Social Learning – A Transformational Shift in Workplace Learning

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“How do I make my team work better by letting them learn the skills they need?”

This is the primary question that L&D managers seek to address when embarking upon workplace learning programs in their organization. Time and again we have stressed, why organizations that have a strong culture of learning are more likely to achieve their organizational goals and remain profitable. The challenges of the modern workplace are many. The distractions on offer from one’s mobile devices, the Internet, and one’s colleagues are just a few. The past decade has steadily shown the changing dynamics of work culture. As a younger generation of employees enters the workforce; recruitment professionals are grappling with the reality that most of the youngsters have no qualms about leaving their jobs and opting for a new career at the bat of an eyelid. In this blog post, we look at how ‘social learning’ is gaining traction and being deployed in organizations to foster workplace learning.

Workplace Learning

Understanding Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory as we understand it today primarily evolved from the work of Albert Bandura in the 1960s. His definition of social learning was – “People learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling.”  This theory is often considered to be a bridge that connects behaviorist and cognitive learning theories.

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Learning Socially

What is it that drives people to share every facet of their lives on social media? Why do you think successful business leaders write long notes and share them on LinkedIn? “Humans are social animals”. This is a phrase that’s used quite often to reflect the evolutionary powers of humans over other living creatures. It is our innate nature to feel appreciated and complimented that’s helped fuel the billion-dollar business that Facebook has grown into today. Social media has turned into an addiction of sorts. Be it public transport or the workplace you can observe people peering into their smartphones or youngsters posing for selfies even in the most crowded places. Sometimes one is forced the wonder if the smartphone has made us dumber?

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Like every bit of technology that has made our lives easier, social media also has a positive and negative side to it. In this blog post, let’s look at the positive side and see how social media is being used effectively to deploy learning in the workplace.

Closed Learning Networks

Workplace learning delivered via an internal learning management system has been in existence for over two decades now. This has evolved significantly in the last five to six years as learning transitioned from the traditional classroom and laptop within a closed learning network to the smartphone. We have seen SCORM give way to xAPI and the rise of bite-sized learning content in the form of video-nuggets.

The challenges of deploying engaging eLearning that caters to the needs of the modern workforce primarily involve around decreasing attention spans and measuring the RoI on the training that’s being delivered. eLearning is now deployed via specialized learning apps rather than a responsive LMS/website. As organizations look to derive maximum benefits from L&D budgets; only those organizations that have a clear L&D and Training policy will be able to grow exponentially.

Social Learning

As organizations evolve to accommodate staff working on-site and from external locations, the need to collaborate and discuss work-related topics is at an all-time high. Solutions like Yammer, Slack, Chatter, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Google Hangouts go beyond messaging and video-calls. Project documentation, knowledge transfer sessions, and real-time learning are all facilitated to varying degrees through these collaborative working apps.

Motivated and self-driven employees love challenges and when a fellow colleague challenges you to complete a module/course, you feel exhilarated when you complete the assigned challenge. It is the same adrenaline rush that your brain responds to when you take up an adventure sport. Solutions like ‘Totara Social’ are built into the ‘Totara Learn’ platform and improve the learning experience to a great degree.

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Our Take

There’s an old Indian saying that reads as follows – “Anything in moderation, will work wonders, and even nectar in excess turns into poison.”

Social learning and social networks are completely transforming how organizations, their employees, customers, and end-users connect and interact with each other. From ordering food, grocery, and books via Instagram and through Facebook pages of brands to consuming learning content via their social pages; everyone seems to be heavily focused on ‘going social’. The elements of distraction and focusing too much on making learning social rather than solving knowledge-gaps is something that organizations need to consider when joining the social learning bandwagon.

Looking for customized learning content to bolster your social learning strategy? Need support with your LMS and mobile learning solutions? We at Origin Learning can help meet your L&D requirements. Write to us at with your requirements.


Harvard Business Review

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