The problem with anything social (social media, enterprise social, social learning) is the 90-9-1 rule which states that 90% of people will not participate. These “lurkers” are content to read what the other 10% are producing and/or commenting on. This might not be a problem in social media as a whole, but it is a problem in corporate learning when we want 100% participation.
The good news is that you can increase participation on social learning, and there is evidence in the science that says so.
A recent research study demonstrated a positive relationship between social presence and online instruction. In short, when there was a high level of social presence, people learned better in an online environment. So that’s good, right?
It is. However, the tricky part is getting people to participate. If you can get people to participate, you will increase engagement and also increase the effectiveness of your eLearning. With this goal in mind, I think there are three simple things you can do to increase participation in your social learning programs, and this is exactly why it is important to use Mindflash And Yammer together.
Make an Introduction
Even before a Mindflash course begins, the first thing to do is get people to introduce themselves. You can do this in a Yammer group. A brief introduction is easy and is a productive way for people to make a connection with others who are taking a Mindflash course. This can be even more effective if you provide guidance with a specific set of points to address in an introduction. For example, you could ask people to introduce themselves by sharing their name, location, and their favorite vacation spot. That last one can be anything, but it should be something that makes it easy for people to make a connection with each other. To make this exercise even more effective, the course facilitator should lead the way by making his/her own introduction first.
Share a Story
A second way to improve participation is to ask people to share a story from their own experience related to the topic of the course. Adult learners have experience and are mostly willing to share it. In most cases, people do not need to have taken your training course to participate in this question. The rest can participate by saying, “I have no experience here. I just started a new job, and I can’t wait to learn more about this topic.” The point here is to get people to tap into their prior knowledge of the subject in an easy way before they take the course. It gets them geared up for the course itself.
Share a Goal
A third way to get people involved is to ask participants to share a goal that they would like to achieve as a result of taking the eLearning course. You’d be surprised how many people have similar goals in their work. Your participants might even make a connection over a shared goal.
Tell Me What You Want and Make it Easy
I am not saying that these three suggestions will change the 90-9-1 model of participation inequality, but I am saying that you can improve participation if you make it easy for people to participate and if you provide guidance for how to participate, especially early in the course.
Bill Cushard, author, blogger, 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+.