Jul 242011

Social Learning – The Human Factor: Evangelizing Social Learning

By Mary Arnold, July 19, 2011, Via Learning Solutions Magazine

Social learning: “Some of the aforementioned virtual communities have clear dual benefits. In organizations with a global presence, for instance, assistance with language learning can offer employees and the organization a competitive edge. Even when the benefits are less clearly business-related, using the social learning platform to support outside activities can give employees a reason to log in to the platform more frequently, increasing the chances that they’ll see work-related content as well.”

Training professionals rarely need encouragement to see the potential value in Social Learning 2.0 environments. Given tools that allow for threaded discussion, promoting and linking to relevant resources, or working collaboratively on common goals, training professionals tend to look at social learning and collaboration environments as a Swiss army knife of online learning opportunities. The organizations those professionals support, on the other hand, often need additional reasons to invest in a social learning environment.

The good news is, the reasons are substantial. If you’re looking to generate support for the investment, or need to encourage the use of a platform your organization has purchased recently, here are some additional arguments you can use.

Project management

Most social learning platforms also provide some rudimentary support for project management. Users can create a project, and assign tasks and activities for themselves or other participants in the project. The user can mark that task completed when it’s finished, and any stakeholder with an interest in finding out how the project is progressing could log into the platform and check.

Make no mistake; these tools can’t take the place of MS Project. But they can serve as a dashboard of current projects, showing completed tasks, and identifying those that may fall through the cracks. However, for projects involving only a few steps or a few people, this can be the perfect amount of information and control.


Social networking within an organization is as important to the organization as it is to the individuals in it. In large organizations, people often work at similar jobs across a wide geographic area, and may never have the opportunity to meet one another in person. Offering them a space to meet virtually, through their common interests, expands their pool of resources when they have questions or problems they can’t resolve in their own location.

Better yet, research has shown that people respond to requests for help or information more quickly when they know the person issuing the request than when they don’t, so offering opportunities for employees to connect to one another creates the potential for a more efficient organization.

social learning


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