The Ultimate Guide (2022)
- Chapter I: What is Social Learning?
- Chapter II: Advantages and disadvantages of Social Learning
- Chapter III: Trends in Social Learning
- Chapter IV: More effective social learning through digital
- Chapter V: How to implement Social Learning?
- Chapter VI: Social Learning, a generational practice?
- Chapter VII: Is Social Learning the future of professional training?
What is social learning?
Towards a definition
Everyone has experienced this: Traditional school education is based on lectures, given by a qualified teacher, to students who receive them passively in most cases.
This dissemination of knowledge can be roughly summarised as a one-way vertical movement from the top (the teacher) to the bottom (the students). Beyond the classroom, this model of top-down transmission is also typically used in continuing education.
With a growing popularity, "social learning" refers to a learning method that is the exact opposite of the traditional teaching method.
In a nutshell, social learning is learning with and through others.
From social being to social learning
If the social nature of human beings is regarded as being vital to their developmental processes, then social learning is inevitable. Throughout our lives, we interact with others, listening,observing their actions, and we naturally learn many lessons from these social relations.
For a child, for example, learning speeches, everyday gestures, important ideas (right, wrong, rules, etc.) or simple games are done by watching and listening to parents and peers, as well as by practicing.It is simple and obvious: no one would teach their young child to wash their hands by lecturing them! Likewise, there is no such thing as a teacher, rather children pass on to each other the rules of the game, or even create them together.
Social, Peer, Collaborative... Different words for a common meaning
There are several terms that can be used to describe social learning such as "peer learning" and "collaborative learning". The differences between these terms are subtle, or even irrelevant: they all refer to participatory learning, based on the cooperation between learners who are switching from the traditional learning process to become the active participants in their training.
A new terminology has emerged to describe the information that learners can share: the terms "user generated content" and "expert generated content" are used to describe training content that is created by users or by experts - who may be trainers, specialists in a particular field, or even learners with specific skills.
Beedeez encourages the development of internal training content by employees of the company. This feature enables them to share their expertise through short demonstrative videos.
One of the best known theoretical premises for social learning is the "theory", which was developed in the 1960s and 1970s by the Canadian researcher Albert Bandura, a prominent social psychologist.
This theory stresses that the basis of learning is observing the behaviour of others and considering the consequences of that behaviour, which leads to purposeful emulation. According to Bandura, this process eliminates a lot of trial and error in the acquisition of knowledge or skill.
In this context, the researcher calls the emulated behaviour a "model" as well as the whole process that leads to it. It should be noted that it is not just a question of imitation, but of using observation to build one's own behavioural patterns, and even developing new skills beyond the model.
Social Learning involves 4 unique processes:
- Attention, which has to be at the right level for the process to be successful. Observation is an active process that allows the learner to select relevant information and identify the reasons behind specific behaviours.
- Retention, which is an essential step in any learning process. It involves the retention of key points from observed behaviour, either through mental images or through psychological or physical repetition.
- Reproduction, which involves putting into practice what the learner has chosen to remember. In this stage, it is necessary to be able to use self-observations to improve performance.
- Motivation, a necessary factor in staying committed to learning. It is driven by the expectations of real or virtual rewards - such as the feeling of "being self sufficient".
Albert Bandura also points out that we learn best from people we feel close to. Just as children like to imitate their parents, siblings or friends, social learning is all the more effective when it is based on the sharing of experiences and knowledge between peers connected by a degree of closeness.
Two concrete examples:
Sharing a copy of a student's performance with the class, or asking a student to make corrections on the board, are good examples of social learning. In other words, paying close attention to the skills of a good student encourages his or her peers to replicate them, especially if they were motivated.
A similar approach is used in some television advertisements, aimed at mimicking certain consumer behaviour by illustrationg them with attractive benefits. Examples include messages such as "Drink this soda and your life will be more sparkling", or "Use this beauty product and the world will be at your feet". To an attentive consumer who is inspired by the advertisement, this can be effective!
The Interactionist theory
Before Albert Bandura's social learning theory, a Russian intellectual Lev Vygotsky had already pointed out the social component of learning in the early 20th century.
The social origin of human thought
Philosopher, psychologist and pedagogue Lev Vygotsky was one of the first to acknowledge that the child is first and foremost a social being, and that his or her entire development - thought, language, higher mental functions - is the result of constant interactions with parents, teachers and other children. According to him, learning is only possible through such communications with adults and collaboration with peers.
According to his 'interactionist' theory, learning first takes place through collective activity, supported by adults and peer groups. It is then strengthened through individual activities that makes it possible to be internalized.
A 100% social learning theory
Applied to the field of training, Lev Vygotsky's analysis focuses on a learning experience that maximises the opportunities of interaction within a group of learners. Discussion, collaborative work, sharing of experiences and feedback are essential. This is the actual definition of modern social learning!
Next: situated learning theory
The works of Bandura and Vygotsky are the pillars for a further approach to social learning: the theory of 'situated learning', which was initiated in the early 1990s by the socio-anthropologist Jean Lave and his student Etienne Wenger.
Lave and Wenger reiterate that social interaction is central to the learning process. According to them, this process occurs in all human activities at all times, through observing problems, the way the knowledge is applied, and the role played by the learners themselves.
Context and concreteness
Lave and Wenger's model of learning is said to be 'situated' because it is performed in the context of its use, and is inseparable from this context. In this regard, it emphasises that knowledge is built in a shared "community of practice" where students learn from one another.
This theory was developed from the observation of the behaviorial patterns of a community of apprentices under the supervision of a craftsman. In order to become competent professionals, apprentices acquire their skills directly on the job, through observation, participation and collaboration.
Further examples? Workshops and role plays in a in a real-life context can be included.
A great way to learn: the 70-20-10 modelSocial learning is not only popular for its user-friendly nature. Educational researches and theories show that it is a very effective training method.
Are you familiar with the 70-20-10 model?
The 70-20-10 model was developed in the mid-1990s by the Center for Creative Leadership at Princeton University. It is often used today to promote the benefits of an informal training, i.e. learning outside the classroom.
To develop this model, researchers Michael Lombardo, Morgan McCall and Robert Eichinger surveyed 200 managers about the learning styles they used to acquire knowledge, and discovered that :
- 70% were acquired through activity and experience, i.e. 'on the job'.
- 20% were acquired through social interaction
- 10% through academic training
The 70-20-10 model thus emphasises that 90% of knowledge is acquired informally, through experiences and social interaction: a very good point for social learning! The flip side of this is that the formal aspect of learning is only a small fraction of the learning process.
The formal part of learning is quickly forgotten, and the informal part remains.
Other studies confirm that the majority of what is learnt in the traditional way is easily forgotten, unless it is rooted in a process of reinforcement:
As early as the end of the 19th century, HFermann Ebbinghaus the ' forgetting curve showed that 30% of learned information is forgotten within 24 hours if not repeated.
In 1939, HF Spitzer found that, without repetition, 80% of what is taught academically is forgotten within 2 weeks.
In contrast to academic teaching, social learning focuses on observation, sharing of knowledge and skills, application of knowledge under real life situations, interactions between learners, etc. According to the 70-20-10 model, this very informal approach is one of the most effective training methods.
Advantages and disadvantages of social learning
Social learning is becoming increasingly important in the world of professional training, as it offers many benefits to the company. From welcoming new recruits to optimising training processes, from employee engagement to company loyalty .... In many ways, it is an excellent opportunity for professional development.
Saving on training costs
Starting with the key issue: compared to the costs of traditional training, the use of social learning is cost effeective.
By building on the existing skills of employees, social learning eliminates the need for hiring expensive trainers. The introduction of a collaborative teaching method that facilitates the exchange of skills and knowledge helps the company to benefit from the pool of knowledge available in-house.
Social learning requires little infrastructure. It requires a change in teaching approach and the creation of relevant processes using the existing tools of the company: messaging, blogs, internal communication networks, etc.
The return on investment (ROI) of social learning is therefore very significant. Although the results are not always easy to determine. a study by the American research and analysis firm Brandon Hall Group concludes that training in social learning mode offers an ROI 75 times higher than that of formal training! It is therefore not surprising that 73% of the companies surveyed by this same firm plan to increase their use of social learning.
Finally, a practical example is better than lengthy discussions: AMD, an American manufacturer of computer parts, claims that its switch to social learning has enabled them to save more than 250,000 dollars per year in training costs. Convincing, isn't it?
Optimise training and improve employee skills
Indeed, social learning enhances the effectiveness of training by connecting learners to each other, and by encouraging the sharing of beneficial information. Not only is knowledge development better than an academic training, but by joint learning, employees take on new skills more effectively.
Also, social learning boosts the motivation of learners, who are more willing and interested in learning that stimulates interaction and builds on the expertise of others. An online course implemented by Harvard Business School improved its success rate by 85% when it incorporated a social learning approach.
Placing learning at the core of day-to-day work life, and incorporating constant feedback, also ensures that knowledge is constantly updated. A very valuable virtue in a rapidly changing professional world.
Improve employee satisfaction and commitment
The following are some of the reasons why and how in highly competitive industries, social learning can be an effective tool in retaining the best talents:
- Employees are looking for companies that offer them opportunities for professional development. By offering them the opportunity to improve their skills and acquire new competences in an informal way through social learning, the company increases its attractiveness.
- By its very nature,Social learning boosts staff engagement by ensuring the active participation of each learner in the training process.
- By recognising and valuing the expertise of each employee, social learning improves the sense of recognition of each individual and thus their satisfaction and retention within the company.
- By promoting teamwork and interaction, social learning improves communication between employees and leads to improved teamwork within the company, which develops the sense of belonging of each member of the group.
Increasing business performance and productivity
The collaborative aspect of social learning improves the integration of new hires
By promoting and supporting peer-to-peer interaction, social learning accelerates the process of integrating new recruits into the group. By encouraging communication, they encourage new hires to ask questions and find the right answers. This is a significant improvement in productivity given that it generally takes 6 to 24 months for a new employee to become fully effective!
Social learning has a positive impact on company performance
By informally increasing the opportunities for learning and sharing, social learning generates valuable benefits: it improves problem solving skills, and stimulates research, development and innovation by creating a productive intellectual environment. In addition it improves the skill levels of employees.
Constraints to be taken into account
A learning style that is difficult to structure, plan and evaluate
The informal nature of social learning means that it can be more difficult to structure than traditional training. Too much supervision can undermine the principle of collaborative learning and the volatility of the exchange. On the other hand, too little supervision can lead to a loss of effectiveness if learners are left on their own. Finding the right balance is important but not easy, and requires flexibility in traditional organizational habits.
Social learning courses evolve through the interaction and participation of learners. This somewhat uncertain and changing structure can lead to difficulties in determining the real added value of these courses, and in assessing the time needed to achieve any productivity benefits.
Resistance to overcome
Because of its informal and innovative nature, social learning practice may encounter some resistance. This will have to be taken into account in some areas that are more 'formal' than others, or are subject to specific constraints.
Departmental boundaries are a potential barrier that should not be overlooked, as different divisions may already have their own collaboration tools. This can be a barrier to overcome in extending shared learning across the organisation.
Leaders and senior managers are often very busy, but it is essential that they are involved in the overall implementation of social learning for it to be successful. Strong managerial support is needed to create a corporate culture that supports social learning.
Confidentiality of data can lead to a justifiable reluctance to share skills and information, but this works against structure of social learning. In this case, consider that even the CIA has realised that the collaborative approach can be beneficial, and has set up an electronic publishing system that provides its senior staff with the latest key information in real time: the CIA World Intelligence Review (WIRe) editor explains: "If you share too much, people will die. If you don't share enough, bad decisions can be made and people can die. It is our responsibility to share widely and safely. The fact is, in the business of intelligence, sharing and security of information must co-exist."
Trends in Social Learning
Social learning is not in itself a new practice. Indeed, the team-based teaching sessions that have been practised for a long time, or even the simple fact of discussing problems over the coffee machine, involves processes that are part of social learning. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the techniques of social learning is not the same as that used in the past. Social learning as identified and practised in the context of vocational training is a recent and growing approach.
Informal learning on the rise
An increasing number of companies are taking interests in the potentials of social learning, especially in the light of the 70-20-10 model, which, as we have seen, establishes the importance of informal learning over academic teaching. By encouraging employees to learn from each other and to work together over time to build their skills and knowledge, this approach offers them a new way of progress and support.
Training courses in quest of being more attractive
In a world of increasing competition and change, the maintenance and development of skills within a company is a key performance driver that companies can no longer afford to ignore. Providing employees with truly effective and highly engaging learning experiences has therefore become a necessity, and social learning solutions are the ideal answer to this pressing need.
The social aspect becomes societal
According to a CREDOC study, the percentage of people who used social networks on the Internet during the year rose steadily over the last ten years: In 2019, 60% of the population used social networks, compared to 23% in 2009, an increase of 37 points.
- The proportion of users of these networks reached 68% among Internet users, compared to 30% in 2009.
Increasingly digital development
Although social learning was not born with the advent of social networks and can still be practised offline, the rise of the 'social' internet has taken it into predominantly a digital territory.
Digital social uses benefit social learning
The technologies we use to interact on a daily basis have naturally adopted social learning devices, which we have become very familiar with in terms of facilitating exchanges: chat rooms or instant messaging, theme-based discussion forums, video conferences, wikis, blogs, intranets or corporate networks....
Popular features on social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, are similarly adopted by social learning because they not only have the advantage of fostering interaction, but also of being widely understood. We can apply this principle to a "post" that shares a piece of information or transmits one, or to a "like", or even to a comment, or to the ways in which exchanges are organised in social networks.
Continued digital momentum
The growth of the digital world, where new usages are constantly emerging, has benefited and will continue to benefit from the creation of social learning, the collaborative dimension of which, to reiterate, is perfectly appropriate for the moment.
Social learning can be built on a growing variety of technological solutions, using engaging features that contribute to the creation of virtual communities, facilitate networking and expand learning opportunities and procedures or interaction between learners.
As with many other aspects of our daily lives, there is no doubt that the digitalisation of social learning will remain and even grow.
Mutual enrichment also transforms e-learning
In social learning, the learners engage with each other in a two-way exchange. It is interesting to note that this concept of mutual exchange can be applied to the relationship that social learning has with the digitalisation.
From e-learning to digital learning
While social learning is largely driven by digital technology, the reverse also seems to be true: as the social aspect of learning has become increasingly important, it has driven the evolution of e-learning systems used for professional training.
Since e-learning did not initially favour social interaction, a solution had to be found to break the isolation of the learner and make him/her active in the training process. This challenge, combined with the digital revolution, is without doubt one of the factors that has influenced the evolution of e-learning. Initially limited to long videos with quick quizzes at the end, distance learning has therefore evolved into digital learning.
New tools with a social vocation
Digital solutions have been developed to adapt to the new social challenges of education, now with interactive features to encourage the learner's involvement, as well as their interaction with their instructor and peers. Digital learning today has many digital tools that facilitate social learning, including :
- The virtual classroom, which brings learners together, sometimes from different geographical locations, on-line for a given learning period. The trainer can share his or her screen and various types of documents, chat and talk to his or her "virtual students" through video. But above all, each participant also has the possibility of sharing content, using his or her webcam and microphone to exchange with the network, and asking or answering questions very easily. This collaborative aspect is essential.
- The LMS or Learning System Management platform,which, as its name suggests, enables the management and monitoring of training activities within the company. This platform provides a platform for centralising and providing access to information relevant to learning. Since social learning requires multiple opportunities for interaction, the LMS is valuable for enabling and organising exchanges: it makes teaching resources accessible, allows content to be created using integrated editing tools, facilitates the organisation of virtual classes or other exchange spaces such as forums, etc.
More effective social learning through digital
Digital social learning breaks down the 70-20-10 model
Recall that the 70-20-10 model splits learning modes into distinct fields: on one hand, 10% formal, which corresponds to academic teaching; on the other hand, 90% informal, which includes 70% practice and 20% learning through our social interactions.
from the beginning, social learning has been an informal activity, but the new digital tools dedicated to it tend to breakdown the ways in which knowledge is acquired. In fact, by making it possible to create and/or disseminate formal educational material, around which learning communities will be built,Digital social learning solutions blend the formal and the informal. In so doing, they enhance, multiply and maximise the learning opportunities available to learners, thereby promoting successful training:
- The quality of formal learning materials provides a strong basis for more informal exchanges between learners;
- At the same time, the social involvement of these same learners enhances their motivation and commitment to the course, making them more likely to effectively integrate the formal learning material provided.
The virtual classroom is an excellent example of this mix!
The benefits of digital social learning
Federated and involved learners
Digital technologies ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of social learning in the company. Not only do LMS platforms improve the management of the various educational resources and the monitoring of learners, but the growth in the availability of participatory tools allows users to be unified:
- collaborative applications (Klaxoon, Slack...);
- document sharing tools (Google drive, Dropbox...) ;
- video conferencing solutions (Hangouts, FaceTime...) ; etc.
This can have negative effects in the private context of virtual social life, but in the professional context, this freedom of speech encourages everyone to participate in social networks. Some employees are more inclined to express themselves from a distance than in front of other participants in a session..
The development of gamification also boosts the involvement of learners by infusing a playful aspect into the learning process. Interaction is also encouraged, for example through the use of group games or competitive challenges that participants are invited to play. The "Battle" mode proposed by Beedeez, which allows participants to measure their knowledge against an opponent on a given subject, is one of the methods that encourage engagement.
Liberated social learning
Another notable advantage is that digital technology relieves social learning of the constraints of space and time; virtual communication has no physical boundaries, and many exchanges can take place all at once, without the need to be in the same place at the same time. However, in contrast to previous e-learning methods, learners are no longer alone behind their screens: they now use their mobile phones, laptops or tablets to connect to their learning community whenever and wherever they want.
Mobile learning at the forefront of future solutions
Among the devices that provide access to digital social learning solutions, the mobile phone is increasingly relevant. Always available, it makes learning accessible anywhere and anytime, and encourages spontaneous exchange and sharing. These advantages are further enhanced by the rise of smartphones and their constant improvement.
The French people are becoming more and more equipped
Mobile phone is the most important form of digital equipment. Not only is the mobile phone increasingly replacing the landline, but it is also taking over many uses that were previously reserved for the computer. This trend concerns all age groups.
According to a survey conducted by CREDOC, in 2019: the rate of mobile phone equipment will reach 95% of the French population aged over 12, and over 98% of the 18-59 age group;
- 82% of French people use their mobile phone on a daily basis, against only 47% that usebthe computer;
- 51% prefer the mobile to connect to the internet, compared to only 31% for computers.
In addition, the smartphone is now the preferred mobile of choice with 77% of people equipped, an increase of 60 points compared to 2011. Among 25-39 year olds, this rate reaches 95%, among 18-24 year olds it climbs to 98%, while 40-59 year olds are still equipped with 80%.
A mobile learning tool
As a result of the figures above figures, mobile learning is becoming an increasingly important means of professional training. And social learning, which is experiencing a strong process of digitalisation, is gaining in importance by building on this development.
Mobile learning - based on short formats and its user-friendly features - combines the spontaneous use of the smartphone with a concise approach that breaks down knowledge into short concepts.
Thanks to the smartphone, the learner can consult the knowledge available in his or her network when he or she wishes, connects to the community and can share his or her own skills instantly - as with the Beedeez "Tips", which capture knowledge and transmits it in the form of short educational videos: product demonstration, business testimonial, technical gesture, safety rule, etc. Learning becomes flexible, progressive, not very time-consuming, engaging because it is attractive, and portable since our smartphones go everywhere with us. All these advantages make it a solution for the future!
How to implement Social Learning?
Respecting the keys to informal training
As we have seen, social learning is part of informal training. Its implementation therefore requires compliance with the keys to success for this type of training:
- Enabling learner autonomy
Social learning makes the learner to be actively involved in his or her training. Not only is his or her participation essential, but it is often the individual who seeks the solutions and information he or she needs spontaneously in the content shared and made available by and for the group. This is particularly the case for tools that support communication, research and information sharing. However, a certain amount of guidance is necessary, and we will be back to this.
- Opening up the training space, it is important to be able to study from any location. Implementation must therefore include means of accessibility which makes knowledge available in the workplace as well as on the road, at the clients' site, using the business softwares.
- Relaxing your goals
Since social learning involves on-the-job training, at the pace and according to the needs of each learner, it is more challenging to apply both qualitative and quantitative targets. Companies need to be flexible, but nonetheless the benefits of social learning in terms of increasing employee skills are significant.
- Being concrete
Priority will be given to the sharing of content that are practical, usable, useful and readily available at the workplace. Each learner must be able to find procedures, operating methods and answers to their specific questions thanks to the corporate social network, online help and exchanges with expert peers. It is about learning while working, sometimes without even realising it! Beedeez "Tips" allow you to create and distribute videos directly in the field.
Rely on the right tools and techniques
Social learning needs tools that facilitate communication, information sharing, co-construction of knowledge, allowing learners to connect and interact.
Some traditional solutions that have existed for a long time can be explored here, such as group courses where everyone is invited to participate by sharing their knowledge, or workshops that involve working in teams.
- But we have noted that digitalization, in particular, provides multiple support for social learning:
You can use social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn to create private groups dedicated to your teams and use them to organise the joint creation and sharing of information that will be useful to all. Similarly, the corporate social network makes it possible to set up collaborative groups that encourage the involvement of learners, such as virtual communities or working groups on specific topics.
- Rely on features such as FAQs, discussion forums and instant messaging.Everyone can participate and find answers, ask questions in the group and easily exchange with their peers on their professional issues. These habits are already widely integrated,because social networks have made virtual interaction popular by encouraging people to constantly "like", comment and share...
- Create your own «Wikipedia» and/or your company blog,and find content created by employees. This can be a valuable source of information, especially for new recruits or those who are not familiar with all aspects of the organisation. The most expert staff will be best placed to ensure that the data shared is relevant and up-to-date.
- Build on the attractiveness of microlearning.This mode of learning is based on very short training content, not longer than 5 to 10 minutes, breaking down the learning into small sections that are easy to access and share. Teams can easily create, share and update these knowledge modules themselves: Beedeez' mobile capsules are an excellent example.
- Put play at the heart of learning. Like serious games in physical mode, virtual group games are ideal for boosting learners' motivation and involvement. The mechanisms of « gamification »are increasingly popular, make use of them! Ranking boards, progressive badges, for example, can reward those who are most active in exchanging or sharing expertise. Competitions or challenges can also stimulate participants in their learning process.
Animating the community
Social learning thrives on the independence and spontaneity of learners, but it is essential to guide the interactions so that the exchanges are not only initiated but above all fruitful.
Dedicating an operator to the system will condition its success. Whether we are talking about an educator, trainer, tutor, administrator or social community manager, it is essential for :
- set up and manage the various tools chosen to facilitate exchanges;
- organise physical and/or virtual workshops to encourage interaction;
- initiate discussions, by choosing topics likely to create competition,, to arouse and maintain the interest of the learners and thus their involvement over time;
- animate the exchanges to give them rhythm, relaunch them, complete them, re align their focus if necessary.
The role of the facilitation is particularly essential when launching a social learning system,to build up the community and make members want to join actively. The central issue is often to have questions and answers: the facilitator will therefore have to ask questions, share content, and challenge learners to interact.
Social Learning, a generational practice?
Because it is innovative, increasingly digital, and part of the collaborative trend that became popular by the explosion of social networks, one might think that social learning is an approach reserved for the younger generations. However, everyone can find their interest in the practice of social learning, which in essence promotes inter-generational cohesion in the company.
For baby boomers: a give-and-take system
Born between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s, Gen-Xers tend to place a high value on balancing work, family and leisure, and have a certain independence of mind. Adapted to a labour market that they entered during a crisis, they have a good capacity to adapt. Having lived through the emergence of the Internet, they are comfortable with most of its uses and with technological tools in general.
In the case of X's employees, social learning is an attractive learning method, as it eases them from the pressure of time and space associated with traditional face-to-face training methods. The approach therefore meets their significant desire for professional and personal development, without burdening their schedules or interfering with their personal lives.
The interactive learning mode, sometimes the playful aspects introduced by gamification techniques, the use of digital tools and the established use of social networks are all additional points of attraction for them.
For Generation Y: the ideal learning experience
Today, at the heart of companies, they are even more connected and digitalised than their older generations. Particularly influenced by the culture of fast and immediate learning, they like to see things happen quickly, and it is essential for the company to find a way to engage them and nurture their professional commitments.
As a result, they find social learning the ideal answer to their learning expectations. As long as the process is deployed using online tools that are available everywhere and at any time, they appreciate being able to learn at their own pace, wherever they are, using the latest digital options.
Although they are independent and prefer to develop themselves, they are nevertheless influenced by collaborative practices because of their virtual habits and are therefore also receptive to the peer-to-peer dimension, which they naturally embrace.
For generation Z: a requirement and an evidence
In short, Generation Z is Generation X version 2.0! Born after the year 2000, these very young employees are still, by necessity, relatively rare within companies. But we can predict that their arrival into the labour market will be followed by the necessary adaptations to their incredibly high mobile, ultra-interactive and ultra-demanding profile.
Familiar with a variety of communication modes - and more broadly with a lifestyle where speed is of the essence - members of Generation Z will not only have to embrace social learning wholeheartedly, but will also have to constantly evolve it.
Being independent and self-sufficient by nature, it is in a company's best interest to engage them in order to keep Z talent in its workforce. The relationship is valuable in this context: it is at the very heart of social learning, which constantly nourishes and supports it.
Deeply rooted in their various professional and personal social networks, young Zs naturally think collectively, and here again social learning is perfectly suited. It is also perfectly suited to their innate taste for self-learning, made evident by the availability of MOOCs, wikis and multiple online tutorials. They are used to looking for answers to their questions themselves, as well as commenting on what others have said or answering questions, so they will have no problem sharing their knowledge or relying on that of their peers - quite the contrary.
Is social learning the future of professional training?
A practice in line with the evolution of society
As mentioned earlier, the rise of social learning can be likened to that of online social networks. The sharing values behind these uses are clearly similar, and the tools created on the networks have also greatly benefited social learning.
But social networks, which have certainly become essential for many people, are only one expression of a much broader trend: the rise of collaboration in the society at large.
The collective group " Ouishare ", a think-and-do-tank founded in 2012 and now an international network present in twenty countries, has a purpose that says a lot about this societal trend: " Create a network of peers, a horizontal organisation and bring about a more open and collaborative society ". Its values are equally revealing: experimentation, openness, collaboration, empowerment, participation, awareness and care...
From sharing economy to knowledge sharing
The event of the day, beyond the new practices of online communication, the practice of sharing is transforming many areas of the economy. There are many initiatives in this field: car rental between individuals or carpooling, flat rental via airbnb or even house swapping, pooling of household equipment or bartering of skills between neighbours.... The field of knowledge is no exception!
Learners are increasingly demanding exciting and participatory training, equipped with the latest digital innovations that facilitate exchanges and the sharing of expertise between peers. Thus, social learning fits perfectly into this major evolution of society, and should logically continue to develop in the decades to come.
A mixed Approach
The potential of social learning is enormous, and its implementation in the enterprise is probably still in its early stages. Nevertheless, the potential is there, the challenges of vocational training are complex, and cannot be fully addressed by this learning method alone.
More than the ability to adopt the principles of digital social learning, to the exclusion of all formal and/or face-to-face training, the real innovation will undoubtedly come from the ability of training managers to make these different teaching methods and the many digital solutions available to them coexist.
An essential module in an e-learning offer
In all probability, tomorrow the aim will not be to use social learning at all costs, but to make good use of its resources and dedicated tools, depending on the context, the needs identified and the objectives to be achieved. Social learning is becoming an essential part of the learning process.
Training is an essential component in creating a culture of continuous development in the company, but it is not the only one.
Training must also take into account the preferences and learning abilities of each employee, in order to best meet their expectations. The future will therefore be an offer that integrates social learning while remaining a multimedia offer, increasingly personalised and adapted to each individual in order to stimulate their engagement and maximise the development of their skills.
Prospective essay: what new uses to come?
The popularity of video is already well established. Fully integrated into the training space, it should make interactions between learners more flexible and developed by simplifying the sharing of questions and solutions. A simple click on the webcam is more efficient and faster than writing a message or written content, and this type of use should become more widespread.
The improvement and availability of virtual reality should also make it a key technology for future digital social learning. One can imagine virtual meetings of communities of learners located around the world, actually equipped with virtual reality headsets, and whose virtual players would participate in collective games of all kinds. Immersion,This is already the case today in physical role-playing games, and it will be enhanced to the point of becoming an unbeatable learning tool. What could be more memorable than making the group experience the feelings of a common adventure where they have to share their knowledge to advance together?
Logically, gamification techniques should develop in line with the emergence of such collaborative games that are based on the need to share information.
Finally, the process of identifying and addressing all individual assessments could become a key element of future social learning. Each employee has specific knowledge at his or her level: documenting this in a comprehensive skills database and making it available to the community, may allow learners in the future to immediately find the peer experts who can answer their questions precisely.
Supporting the evolution of professions through social learning
WWe are living in an era where the sustained pace of technological innovation is leading to the disappearance of certain jobs and accelerating the process of skill depreciation, while at the same time triggering the emergence of new professions... In a constantly changing labour market, it is essential to be highly adaptable: training is becoming a crucial challenge...
On one hand, people are now required to be life-long learners in order to ensure their employability. On the other, it is essential for the company to have effective training systems in place to update the skills of its employees. Sometimes it has to go as far as training them in new professions, as this is the only way to meet certain emerging labour needs.
Social learning to be updated
In all cases, social learning is a particularly interesting solution: by its nature, this mode of learning leads to the creation of a system that is constantly in search of new knowledge, powered by exchanges and content thats are constantly updated by the community, encouraging employees to train on a daily basis to keep their expertise up to date and to improve it as they progress, in a rather informal manner.
By encouraging peer-to-peer sharing, social learning makes it possible to spread changes impacting the company in real time. Its digital tools allow each person with knowledge to acquire it and pass it on to the community: very useful for informing employees of new products or services, or training them in new techniques.
Beedeez' Tips function is a perfect example of this advantage. It allows any employee to record his or her expertise on video, improve it with pictoral illustrations, comments or games, and share it, all in a few minutes! Based on the principle of the YouTube tutorials that everyone knows, the community can easily discover the professional skills needed to use a new machine, the presentation of the latest product launched by the company, or a new safety rule that needs to be known....
Such a move towards the sharing of knowledge, which is directly linked to the problems in the field, has every chance of becoming an essential element in the strategy of companies to adapt to the increasingly rapid changes in professional environments.