Social Learning: Build Conversations into eLearning Courses

One of the major problems with eLearning is that people cannot interact with each other. No matter how interactive you make an eLearning course, it is still a matter of a screen delivering content and a person consuming (reading, watching, listening, clicking, etc) that content. In general, eLearning does not afford the benefit of the follow-up question or leaning over to the person next to you and asking, “What did the instructor mean when she said….?” That is the bad news about most eLearningMindflash and Yammer

The good news is that your eLearning courses do not have to be one-way. You can build social interactions into your eLearning courses by integrating Yammer with Mindflash. Yammer has been a long time Mindflash customer, and they use both Mindflash and Yammer in many of their training programs to create people-to-people interactions.

We all know from experience that we learn in many different ways and one of those ways is through interacting with people. In fact, adult learning theories and communities of practice address the important of social interactions and learning. So there are plenty of good reasons for adding people-to-people interactions into your eLearning courses.

Here are three simple things you can do to use Mindflash and Yammer to build valuable interactions into your eLearning courses.

Discussions Activate Prior Knowledge

As part of any new eLearning, you can create a group for a specific course in which people can have discussions about the content. One way to kick off a discussion is to pose discussion questions to new enrollees and ask people what they already know about the topic. Activating prior knowledge of a subject is a key element of adult learning theory and anchors the topic of a course in the content of what other people already know. A simple example of this is that before a customer service training course, ask enrollees to describe a prior good and bad customer experience they have had.

eLearning Helps Deliver New Content

Once you have kicked off your eLearning course with a conversation, you can use that group to point people back to the eLearning course. The course is used to deliver the concepts of the topic. This is the self-paced portion of your course. The time when people sit down on their own and go through the material.

Discussions and Calls to Action

Once people complete an eLearning course, they can be asked to participate in a discussion to share what actions they have taken based on what they learned in the course and share the results (or lack thereof) they have achieved. This is a technique for getting people to apply what they learned, and also to review and clarify what they learned. It is an excellent reinforcement activity.

Blended, Social, Whatever

You can call it blended learning or social learning or just plain eLearning. Call it whatever you wish. One thing for sure is that there are many ways to use Mindflash and Yammer together, and I suggest you read the post about how Yammer does it. But no matter how you do it, you should make an effort to get participants talking to each other in the context of your eLearning course.

How have you used Mindflash and Yammer together to deliver training to your audience?

Bill Cushard, authorblogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Accenture. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.

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