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Taking Your E-Learning Social

light-bulb-1433914-sThe other day I had the chance to attend the monthly meeting of a local professional group. This is not a group I belong to, but I know several of the members and they were hoping to learn more about eLearning and how they could utilize it within their organizations. And, since I love getting the chance to share what I do with a captive audience, I was thrilled to volunteer my time and share my heart at their very well catered luncheon.

So, when the time came I hopped up to a smattering of applause and headed up front to give my talk. It went great! The audience was receptive, the questions were thoughtful and you could literally hear a pin drop throughout the room as they listened to every word I had to share.

I finished up and was feeling pretty pleased with myself as I headed back to my table for the delicious looking cheesecake that had showed up while I was talking. But, here’ s what I didn’t expect. It wasn’t until I sat down, stopped talking and started listening that the really interesting things started to happen.

While I was focused on my cheesecake the group was focused on each other. They were talking through the key points of what I had shared and bouncing ideas off of each other related to application, growth strategies and even funding. As I sat there, fork frozen halfway between my mouth and my plate, it dawned on my. This was when the real learning was taking place.

It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my delivery, my clever jokes or my well thought out concepts, it was this interaction with each other that would take my simple talk and propel it into real world action that could be applied to their individual organizations. That was the power of their group. It was that this meeting put all of them in the same place, at the same time, with a focused topic to discuss. I provided the foundation and then they ran with it.

The entire process was fascinating to watch.

Somewhere in the middle of all this I started thinking. When we deliver virtual content we often have this same opportunity whether we realize it or not. After all, we have a group of people gathered in the same place, for the same reason and after each learning interaction they all have a fresh topic to discuss. So the question quickly becomes, how to we capture this social aspect of learning and take it to a virtual setting? it’s a thought provoking question for sure and one I’ve spent quite a bit of time considering.

And, while this is an issue I definitely want to spend more time with, today I want to offer three key places for the discussion to start.

teamwork-1-1336892-sFirst, we need to find ways to stimulate and encourage learner to learner communication. Remember the chatter in the room? That chatter had power and it is up to us to find ways to replicate that level of interaction in the virtual classroom. So ask yourself. How are your participants communicating? What level of interaction do they have and what can you do to enhance that?

It’s a great start.

Next, look to social media and see if there is an appropriate platform to utilize. The ideal platform is closed, meaning a secret group, where your learners can speak freely to each other without worrying that the outside world is watching their every move. It is up to us to create these safe environments where true learning can take place. Then, once we find the right platform its simply a matter of connecting the group and planting the seeds to start the conversation. Check out the UserConnect feature in the Axis LMS that addresses this scenario.

The last point I want to make about this today is to be consistent. If you encourage your participants to talk with each other, to interact with each other one time, you might not get the best results. But if you do this consistently you will be amazed at how much deeper and richer the conversation will get. As the group grows closer, gets to know each other better and even bonds, they will come to trust those around them and be more willing to share their thoughts and ideas. So, as the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

teamwork-2-1237611-sFor eLearning to continue to grow and expand we have to create environments that meet and then exceed the classroom experience.

We can’t do that if we ignore the social aspect of learning and the depth of understanding that comes from discussing a topic with your peers.

As I said, its a topic I want to explore in more depth in the very near future, but for now I think we are off to a great start.

The Axis Learning Management System is a powerful, budget-friendly, easy-to-use Online Learning Management System for authoring, managing, and tracking online training (including social e-learning). To try it FREE,  go to the Axis LMS Sign-up Form.

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