December 23 2014

5 Insights into Workplace Social Learning Technologies

Written by Lambda Solutions

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workplace social learningThe evolution of social technologies from Yahoo in 1995 to Facebook in 2004 has greatly impacted the way we communicate and hence the way we learn in our professional lives. Saba and the Human Capital Media (HCM) Advisory Group surveyed over 500 senior leaders from a wide range of industries and company sizes to better understand how organizations are adopting social learning technologies to achieve their learning and talent development goals.

While 47.3% of organizations have adopted workplace social learning technologies ‘to some extent’ and 18.5% have adopted them ‘fully’—over one-third of organizations have yet to implement social learning tools. A key factor that indicated the adoption of workplace social learning technologies aligned with whether or not the organization is globally distributed. This is largely due to need—organizations that cannot rely on daily social contact between employees have a greater need for social learning technologies. While, globally distributed companies typically adopt social learning technologies faster—this surely does not mean that local or nationally distributed companies do not reap equal benefits. Let’s take a closer look!

What are the Main Motivations for the Adoption of Work Place Social Learning Tools?

Independent from whether or not an organization is globally distributed, Saba and HCM uncovered additional motivations for the adoption social learning technologies in the workplace. An overwhelming number of companies (64%) indicated that their number one reason for implementing social tools is to support a culture of learning. The next two main motivations are to encourage collaboration and innovation (54%) and connect employees to organization experts (42%).

What Workplace Social Learning Technologies are Most Popular?

In order to capitalize on the aforementioned motivations, organizations have implemented discussion forums (60%), internal blogs (58%), secure instant messaging (55%), communities of practice (53%), video channels (48%) and wikis or other collaboration tools (46%). While the two most popular technologies—discussion forums and blogs—are technologies that have been around since the 1990s, modernization of these tools allow for easier access to helpful information through social rating technologies (ex. More ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ will bring helpful information to the forefront). Secure messaging on the other hand is a fairly recent technology that allows employees to instantaneously be connected to company experts for learning, knowledge and support.

What are the Most Common Uses of Social Learning Technologies?

The most common ways the aforementioned social learning tools are used is to enhance virtual classrooms and eLearning for either development or training in the workplace. For example, Saba and HCM found that 60% of respondents use wikis, blogs and discussion forums to share and collaborate with co-workers. They also found that 58% of organizations are using social learning technologies to enable on demand access to real-time discussions, training, support and expertise.

What Content is best delivered via Social Learning Technologies?

Given that over two-thirds of companies indicated that they implemented workplace social learning technologies to support their learning culture, Saba and HCM sought to discover what content was best delivered this way. They found that social learning technologies are most successful in delivering content related to product knowledge (54%), on-boarding (51%) and career development (36%). With regards to delivering product knowledge—workplace social learning technologies are most effective because they allow employees to network with mentors and experts in the organization.

What are Key Challenges for Implementing Social Learning?

Even though social learning technologies are proven to be successful for catalyzing creativity and innovation, they do not come without their challenges. Saba and HCM identified the top three being: employee adoption and engagement with newly implemented social learning technologies (51%), measuring the impact of success (41%) and the time required to successfully manage communities of practice and discussion forums (35%). Employee adoption is a difficult challenge to hurdle but it is possible! For more information on how to overcome these challenges check out this article here.

If you are seeking additional information on the social learning capabilities of open source learning management systems, contact one of our experts today, or check out our webinar on Implementing the Right Learning Technology:

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