social learningA major complaint among those who prefer Instructor led training (ILT) to eLearning is that eLearning is not social. They claim the lack of social interaction, both with the instructor and other learners, limits the effectiveness of the training. Many will cite the Hawthorne effect, explaining that through observation the learners will modify or improve their performance. Without that observation, they argue that the learner is not motivated to achieve training goals beyond completion. But through advances in today’s learning management systems, these criticisms can be addressed. Now we can say that social learning online is possible, and is helping to bring more training and development options to organizations and associations anywhere on any device.

Social Learning in an LMS

Today’s learning management systems are built with social features that allow people to work in groups, facilitate discussions, and even integrate with social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. Now learners can benefit from group collaboration to fully explore subject matter, without having to attend a physical class.

The goal of social learning is to get learners involved with the content and engaging with their peers. Social tools within the new generation of LMSs encourage group collaboration and discussion. Training managers can now spark discussions and let learners discuss topics and concepts to solve problems collaboratively.

Social media integration allows learners to take the discussion outside of the LMS to gain even more insights from industry leaders, peers, and friends. This also allows the learner to seek out resources from social media groups within their industry to gain a greater depth of understanding and bring that understanding back to the course and discussion groups.

This level of engagement goes beyond traditional ILT where learners are discouraged from using their phones during lectures limiting access to outside information that may further the discussion, and are discouraged from engaging in discussion until scheduled breakout sessions.

Integrating social learning features into eLearning has created a more interactive, collaborative, engaging, learning experience making online training and continuing education more informative and effective than ever before.

Yes, but what about that Hawthorne effect? If the learner isn’t being watched will they still modify or improve their performance? In addition to the social features that encourage discussion and group activity, many LMSs have also implemented gamification elements to motivate learners through competition. Indeed, the learner is being watched, by their coworkers and peers, to see who has achieved the most points and earned the most badges. The one-two punch that is social learning and gamification within the new generation of learning management systems is the answer to the many criticisms of ILT providers regarding online learning.

Want to know more about the next generation of Learning Management Systems? Join us for a FREE Webinar November 15, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST: 7 Must-Have LMS Features in the New Knowledge Direct Learning Management System. Register today.