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Integrating social media with your e-learning

The potential of social learning is huge.

You may have come across the term ‘70:20:10 learning’, a learning and development model that encapsulates the three types of learning – experiential, social and formal.

Research suggests that 70% of our knowledge is gained from observing others, 20% through practical interaction and only 10% is acquired from traditional training methods.

Social learning fits into the 20% of practical interaction and you can use social media to allow your learners to gain this even when their e-learning is online.

What is social learning?

According to Bandura’s social learning theory (1977), people learn from each other through observation, imitation and modelling.  People learn through observing others’ behaviours, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviours.  Social learning theory looks at the interactions between cognitive, behavioural and environmental factors.

While the principles of this theory remain the same, the way we interact socially has changed dramatically with the introduction of social media.  This affects our learning experience and is a way that the social learning theory can be applied in e-learning, capitalising on the popularity of social media.

What impact will social learning have on e-learning?

Using e-learning as a method of training is generally a very isolated journey for users.  They navigate through the module, take a test if necessary, and repeat the process if they’re unable to pass or complete.  The only interaction is between the learner and the content.

What social learning aims to do is promote communication between learners so they can benefit from a shared experience.  This is where the use of social media can be of great significance.

The many facets of social media suddenly become devices of collaboration for learners using features like comments, instant messaging, video chats, forum discussions, etc.  Opening channels of communication using social media expand the learning experience, meaning learners can benefit from sharing their journey with their peers and create a more engaging experience overall.

How can you implement social e-learning?

To effectively integrate social media into traditional e-learning methods, it’s a clever idea to create a page or profile on the most popular platforms.  Facebook and Twitter are the most prevalent when it comes to having a widespread user base.  Once you’ve decided which platforms you’re going to use, you can prompt users to follow or subscribe to your social media so that they don’t miss any important updates.

Adding hyperlinks on your LMS that link directly to each page or profile is an effective way to promote your social media.  You can then begin to post links to new courses/content on your social media sites.  Any users that follow/subscribe to your social media will automatically see your posts and will hopefully be intrigued to view, and engage.  Ask users to share your posts so that others may see what you’ve been posting, and even follow/subscribe.

Encourage users to communicate with each other by creating posts that generate conversation.  Pose a question, allowing learners to respond and, in turn, create a truly collaborative experience.

Putting social learning into action

A great example of a social learning approach has been adopted by one of our clients.  As well as the formalised learning methods, an open forum has been made available on many of their courses.  Users are encouraged to shares ideas, tips and hints that they feel their peers may benefit from.  This is achieved through a forum post on a certain topic which shares one user’s thoughts.  Others can then respond with their take or to pose further questions.  This generates conversation between users where they discuss what they find helpful and what they have found challenging.  

This is a perfect example of how social learning can be integrated with standard learning methods to create a collaborative approach where users benefit not only from an e-learning course but also the experiences of their peers.

This is a simple, yet effective, way of giving learners the opportunity to gain more than the knowledge attained from the content of the e-learning course.

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