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Social Learning Examples in SharePoint that will Change the Way you Train

Amber Rasmussen October, 2014
social learning examples in sharepoint

Social learning examples have been a hot training topic for the last few years and have graced the pages of industry magazines, blogs and social media. The term ‘social learning’ has taken the industry by storm and seems to show no sign of slowing down.

According to a report by HCM Advisory Group, more than half of businesses use social learning to support communities of practice and another 35 percent plan on developing it in the next two years.

The evolution from social media to social learning is where forward-thinking companies are moving to accelerate the development of their people and better accomplish business goals,” said Sarah Kimmel, director, research and advisory services at Human Capital Media Advisory Group. “As employees and learning leaders become more comfortable with social learning and the value it can add to an organization, the challenges with adoption will ease, allowing for even more creative and productive use.”

Social media tools are changing the game when it comes to employee learning. And thanks to workplace collaboration tools, organizations can create environments in which employees can learn from each other instead of the overly formal status quo or from the proverbial "company expert."

For training programs to be effective, businesses must use the right methods and mediums for their training sessions and their audience. Given the popularity of social media, it only seems logical to explore how social media tools can have a positive impact on the learning experience.

In this blog, we’ll offer a few social learning examples that will address the latest trends in training and how they can easily be implemented in a SharePoint environment.

Create a powerful training program with the following social learning examples:

Trend: ‘Snack size’ learning

Snack size learning continues to be a trend in 2014 and beyond. Offering 5 to 10 minute segments of content allows for quick, effective, and memorable learning to take place on the job. Snack size learning is effective because it allows the training to take place but doesn’t require the time and dedication that other learning techniques do. This helps participation in learning as employees don’t see the training as a ‘task’ and build up resentment to it.

One way to implement snack size learning is with video. Videos are revolutionizing the way teams and organizations communicate with each other.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but did you know that a video is worth a thousand pictures?

The latest trend isn’t for formally produced video in a course but rather informal, quick video clips (think YouTube) that may even be taken with a mobile phone.

The great thing about SharePoint is that the latest version offers an enhanced video experience. SharePoint 2013 does a great job supporting video communications-from sharing a video across a team site to building a knowledge management/video portal for the enterprise.

Social learning example using ‘snack size’ learning via video in SharePoint

Most organizations have some form of SOP training to ensure quality of their product and to adhere to rules and regulations. And, of course, it is especially important that each employee reads and understands the SOP training material.

According to The Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education, students remember information better and can better recall it when it is represented and learned both visually and verbally.

CPR training is a great example of how a video can make all the difference in learner retention. A demonstrative video of how to perform CPR with accompanying documents can easily be uploaded in a SharePoint library for learners to access. It also can have version control applied so that only the most up-to-date information is presented.

Trend: Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing involves asking a question to a broad group of people for their input, expertise and opinions and is a great way to access the collective knowledge of a group. Traditional learning models can be slow and time consuming. With the business environment changing so fast, crowdsourcing offers incredible speed to insight, which, in turn, leads to speed to learning.

Beyond just offering a more efficient process, crowdsourcing ignites organizational engagement by giving a voice to a broader group, which will lead to more buy-in, a better harvesting of information and insights, and ultimately the chance for better decisions across the organization.

Social learning example using crowdsourcing in SharePoint

SharePoint + Crowdsourcing = winning mantra! The latest version of SharePoint features improved social collaboration tools that make crowdsourcing effortless.

SharePoint communities are a great tool to cultivate discussions in an organization. It provides opportunities for people to share their expertise and seek help from others who have knowledge in specific areas of expertise.

A great example is in the onboarding process. New employees often times have questions and having a discussion area available to them is invaluable. Community sites also contain a history of all posts and replies to make it easy for the learner to find the answer to a question.

Community sites also offer gamification by encouraging and rewarding members for participation. The more they participate the more reputation points they earn for posting, replying, and receiving likes and best answers.

Another great feature is badges. An employee can be given a badge for their profile that says “new hire buddy” or “peer mentor” to identify them as someone whom a new employee can go to for answers to their questions.

Trend: Social Backchannels

With social backchannels, the learner can contribute to and enhance learning during a live presentation. Using a backchannel can greatly extend the reach of ideas and create a sense of community among your learners, as well as encourage your more introverted learners to participate in the discussion. In addition, a social backchannel can extend the boundaries of the physical room or auditorium by allowing online learners to submit questions and participate in the discussion with those physically present.

Social learning example using backchannels in SharePoint

One way backchannels are used in social media is with a hashtag, real time chat and instant messaging. SharePoint uses hashtags in much the same way as Twitter. After a course or webinar, you utilize the microblog feature to start a discussion about it and use a hashtag, e.g., #cpr101. Learners can actually subscribe to the hashtag to follow the conversation. Instant messaging capabilities are also present in team sites.

In conclusion, the social learning trend is as strong as ever. Learning goes far beyond the classroom and SharePoint has effectively implemented the right features to extend the reach of your training initiatives. We hope the social learning examples above have given you some great ideas of how you can try social learning with your organization.

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