Thanks to the rise of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and WhatsApp, we are all becoming more ‘social’ than ever before – messaging, sharing, discussing and collaborating across online social networks in ever increasing numbers. Today, the average Briton spends 2 hours and 51 minutes online per day1 and they’re the equivalent of 29% of the world’s population with an active social media account.2
But while an active social media-generation can provide businesses with some challenges, there is one aspect they should be perfectly aligned to – social learning.
First popularised by psychologist Albert Bandura in the 1960s/1970s, the central principle of the Social Learning Theory is that learning does not simply take place through instruction, but that it is a social activity – occurring by observing and modelling others. Social learning is regarded as a key part of the ‘blended learning’ experience because it utilises aspects of it such as “showing” videos of tasks, requiring learners to “observe”, allowing them to “discuss” through message boards, and having them “answer” questions.
But while social learning is an L&D opportunity which organisations can leverage with their younger, social media active workers, there remains a gap between idea and implementation.
Some 89% of Millennials say they want their workplace to mirror social networks – to be more social and fun – and 74% of them also say social technology gives them faster access to knowledge.3 Yet despite this, data shows only 18.5% of organisations say they have implemented workplace social learning technologies ‘fully’, while over a third have yet to implement them at all.4
BEST PRACTICES: HOW SOCIAL LEARNING IS TRANSFORMING BUSINESS LEARNING INITIATIVES
This is a challenge organisations need to overcome. Raytheon Professional Services is at the forefront of helping organisations integrate social learning into the 70:20:10 learning model (which states that the largest proportion of learning within organisations is done by the individuals themselves and learnt from on-the- job experiences). This includes partnering with companies like Totara Learning and being able to offer open source Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) to enhance the flow of knowledge and help create the catalyst for collaboration within the workplace.
“Social networks allow individuals to access information, learn new things and share experiences. Meaning people can find what they need to support them in their role, when and where they need it,” says Cathy Hoy, Senior L&D Manager, Europe at Coca Cola and speaker at the 2016 Raytheon Symposium on Innovative Blended Learning.
In addition, Cathy adds: “Using ESN’s before, during and after a formal training experience can help embed learning and extend the learning period. Learning and development teams should consider weaving social networks into the overall learning design process from the start.”
THE CHALLENGE: IMPLEMENTING SOCIAL LEARNING INTO THE BUSINESS LEARNING SYSTEM
Implementing a social learning strategy is not something businesses can take lightly. It involves understanding cultural change as much as anything else; it requires businesses to defer to the power of informality, by allowing the free movement of different ideas online. It also involves commitment from the management team, and buy-in all the way down.
Christian Böhle, Senior Learning Technologies and Methods Manager at RWE Group Business Services and speaker at the 2016 Raytheon Symposium, says “mankind naturally learns every second of their private life but lose the ability and willingness to do so during their work life – a challenge we need to overcome and address.”
“Social learning is for us one approach to cover the need of supporting our employees to better learn socially and informally,” he explains. “The aim is not necessarily to convince people to take a more active role in learning and developing themselves. It’s rather to create opportunities, to provide relevant and valuable content when people need it through the channels which are receivable and feasible. The aim is that received knowledge can be applied instantly.”
“The proliferation of social technology brings the challenge of integrating it into one cohesive learning system that is aligned with business goals,” says Egon Fleischer, Head of Learning Solutions, Raytheon Professional Services. “This requires a solution architected to meet the needs of everyone, from new hirers to high performers. The right learning strategy is never about merely adding new media or new technology.”
Join senior HR and L&D executives in London on 20th September and in Frankfurt on 27th September for the Raytheon Learning Symposium 2016.
1 Online Measurement Company (UKOM) stats 2015.
2 Simon Kemp. “Digital, Social & Mobile Worldwide in 2015.” We Are Social. January 2015.
3 “Engaging Millennials Using Social Learning Infographic.” eLearninginfographics.
4 Sean Hougan. “5 Insights into Workplace Social Learning Technologies.” Lambda