3 essential tips for social learning in your LMS

This is a guest post from Kineo Israel's Rotem Landesman.

When Albert Bandura sat down and wrote his Social Learning Theory, we’re pretty sure he wasn’t thinking about learning management systems. We don’t blame him – sometimes it’s hard to see the two mix and merge – so let’s get some ideas, and show how a LMS can help boost the social learning processes in your organisation.

A short reminder - what is social learning anyway?

We won’t give you the whole scope of the social theory, but here are a few short points about it:

Social learning is a learning theory showing us that most of our learning, especially as children but also significantly as adults comes from watching and mimicking others. The theory talks about positive and negative reinforcement, role models that we choose to imitate throughout our lives (whether they be our parents, friends, or simple people we admire), as well as the cognitive processes that we go through before we decide whether we imitate someone or not. Sounds complicated? Fear not – these four processes will sound familiar, as they are something we all go through and have seen others go through when we try and teach them anything from tying their shoes to making business decisions:

  1. Attention – For something to be imitated and learned from, it must first be noticed.
  2. Retention – How we remember the actions or the material – or whether we do at all.
  3. Reproduction – Whether we can, either physically or mentally, reproduce the action we are watching. We may all marvel at Olympic gymnasts, for example, but attempting a backflip may be a bit too much for most of us.
  4. Motivation – Here is where we weight the perceived costs and rewards from performing the task we’re observing; hopefully, we see and recognise the advantages and perform whatever it is we need to do.

As this article from BetterBuys correctly points out, social learning also requires active participation from the learners in order for them to retain the information they need. This means passively sitting in a classroom, or sitting in front of a computer won’t truly do the job - we have to be active in our learning, in sharing and acquiring insight, rather than sit and stare, trying to absorb the information flowing all around us.

Allow us to refer to this excellent article by CIPD that tells us that the future of L&D departments (and the future of social learning of course) will happen when we become the curators of knowledge, allowing the free flow of social information through our organisation and cultivating social environments to help people learn through the social learning theory.

How does this theory apply to learning management systems?

Totara Learn LMS

So how do we take all that – the theory that sounds great and might work but lacks the pragmatic side that so many of us are looking for – and instill those principles in our already existing LMS?  By the way, while many others may say that you may need a social learning system in your organisation other than your existing LMS, we respectfully disagree – there are so many built-in features already inside your system that can open up that flow, that getting another platform may only make things more complicated.

Here are some ideas on integrating social learning and its concepts into your LMS:

1. Use forums and group chats
Remember, one of the better ways to promote such a platform is with a well-built, structured and directed campaign to make people want to share and see the benefits in doing so. Once employees use these platforms within their already familiar environment of the LMS and notice the benefits of talking to their fellow employees – it will surely become a habit and an essential cultural company factor.

2. Use live video formats
By using a live video to explain about a specific topic or troubleshooting a specific problem a customer or an employee may have, you encourage them to follow along, ask questions and immediately get them answered, as well as explain to each other throughout the video demonstration what the other may not have understood. You can easily set up such a call, including manage signup sheets and schedule reminder emails for employees and managers alike can all be done through the LMS – and enhance social learning by strides in your organisation.

3. Gamify your learning
You’ve probably heard this global tip before – make learning fun, a bit of a game (without making it silly or embarrassing, of course) – and reap the rewards of engaged employees who retain the knowledge given to them and raise performance levels across the board. Another hidden benefit? An immense social learning opportunity! As do many of the games in our lives, we can make the games we use for teaching require social interaction between the learned, whether it be getting facts from each other, collaborating to reach a joint goal, or even a simple energising game that will be talked about around the watercooler. Use the tools in your LMS to upload courses with gamification qualities, and meaningful learning will come right along.

That’s it for today – we hope you got some ideas about utilising social learning theory in your own workplace. Remember, you can always find out more when you visit our blog, or when talking to one of representatives. Now go out there and get social!

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