Instructional Design

Get Social, Get Smart

Eventually everything comes back into fashion. The Madmen era of the ’60s gave way to the productivity era of the ’80s thanks to first-generation MBA bean counters. The “nose to the grind” workplace encouraged coporate social learning silos, an unintended consequence. Now the pendulum swings back. While social learning takes the enterprise eLearning experience to a higher level, it adds another lauded benefit—a renewed sense of community.

The Total is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

By integrating social components into the eLearning experience, you reach more types of learners while coaxing wallflowers from the shadows. Those afraid to ask for help in a formal setting can accept help and encouragement from their peers.

Plan Your Social Strategy

Your overall plan (strategy) provides routine; the components (tactics) add the opportunity for spice. Place social features on the course page for easy, consistent access. The plan will evolve over time, but you must start with a basic plan.

Social Learning Tools for eLearning

Decide which of the following social learning tools will benefit your overall learning strategy and integrate them as applicable:

  • Blog – Tags identify entries for each course
  • Comments and Ratings – Encourage feedback
  • Forum – Peer review and support
  • Wiki – Knowledge bases
  • Polls – Who can resist a poll?
  • Bookmarking – Share favorites
  • Social Widgets – Integrate Social Learning into the LMS
  • Gamification – Rosetta Stone uses heavy gamification on Live Mocha, their free foreign-language site.

Use your authoring tool’s widgets to integrate social components into the LMS. Then, link entry from the course page. Finally, use an RSS feed to push out information to learners. The more components you integrate, the more opportunities for social elearning and interaction to occur.

Who knows: Your eLearner social butterflies might take the initiative to plan a face-to-face ‘graduation’ lunch meetup on their own—or you could build it into the plan.