3 Social Learning Tactics to Boost Learner Engagement

February 21, 2019

In its simplest definition, social learning is learning with or from others. For experienced L&D professionals, whose top concern is getting their engagement numbers up, social learning offers a promising technique to boost learner engagement.

Combating the Lonely Learner Syndrome

In his course, “Learning How to Increase Learner Engagement,” Karl Kapp explains that 67% of student’s thoughts during basic lecturing were irrelevant. This phenomenon known as “mind wandering” means that even if learners watch a course, they may not be getting the full value out of the content.

This problem is compounded when learning moves from the classroom to an online environment. The “lonely learner syndrome” is the lack of motivation learners experience when they’re learning on their own.

By adding both social learning and gamification elements to an L&D program, you can combat the lonely learner syndrome and increase the value that each learner takes away from your learning program. According to a study by J.R. Shoen, even something as simple as group discussions can boost a learner’s active attention up to 75%.

So, the question for L&D professionals is how can we apply the techniques of social learning to the busy and fragmented world of the modern workplace. Here are three  suggestions:

1. Social Learning Begins with Q&A

One of the core principles behind social learning is the idea that we can learn from anyone and everyone.

One of the biggest challenges for L&D pros is getting learners to interact and engage with each other. Using Q&A is a great way to encourage learners to interact with each other that they may not necessarily do otherwise.

This was one of the core reasons we built the LinkedIn Learning Q&A feature that we recently launched. On LinkedIn Learning, you can not only ask questions of the instructors, but also of your peers.

Unsurprisingly, learners tend to be connected with other learners, which could be the reason why 97% of questions asked on LinkedIn Learning are answered within 7 days.

2. Create a Course Club

Another way to leverage social learning is by using the tried-and-true model of a book club. Although it may not be obvious at first glance, a book club is social learning applied to one of the most individual activities we do—reading.

You can create a course club where teams watch a course each month and then discuss the ideas from it at the end of the month.

The team at Vision Critical saw great success when they created a learning club within their organization. In the engineering department, for example, the team would choose a course to watch each week and then get together on Monday to discuss what they had learned. Not only did this help with learning retention, but it also brought the team closer together.

Software Engineer, Michael Nguyen, who co-created the learning club explained, “Before we had LinkedIn Learning, we had to just figure out ways to learn on our own. Now, it’s added a lot more structure to our learning and we are able to learn new technologies faster.”

If you’d like to some course suggestions, check out the LinkedIn Course Club. Each quarter we unlock a select number of courses that you can use to engage your learners. Whether it’s a “Creativity Bootcamp” or “How to Become a Thought Leader,” the list changes every quarter, so check back to see what new courses are unlocked.

3. Have Learners Create Custom Videos

You can help amplify the social learning that is already going on in your organization by encouraging teams to share their knowledge by uploading their own videos into your online learning program. For example, most high-performing sales orgs have a very strong practice of sharing best practices among sales reps. A way to capitalize on this trend, is to have those sales leaders create videos where they share their tips with others. Our own SVP of Global Solutions, Mike Gamson, created a course on “Selling to Executives” that ended up the most watched course during our LinkedIn Learning Challenge Week.

Not only does this technique help bottle up the knowledge that’s already being shared, but it also creates an opportunity for top-performing employees to show off their knowledge in a positive and constructive way. As an added bonus, this means that when that employee leaves the organization, all their best practices and learnings don’t leave with them.

Next Steps

Social learning is just one technique among many. If you’d like to see how other L&D teams are improving learner  engagement, be sure to browse through the Learner Engagement Playbook, which features case studies, worksheets, and tools you can use in your organization.