Social elearning is the future: Are you coming?

Social learning isn’t new. It’s always been powerful, and the most favored way to learn. With social learning tools set as the number one tech to shake up the market – and the repeated calls from Jane Hart to shift away from old school elearning to harness cultures of socially-driven workplace learning – it’s time for a guide.


Here we share how to re-shape your elearning and bring the social in, so you can maximize the best of both worlds and stay ahead of the curve.

If you’ve yet to read it, we made 10 L&D predictions for 2017. One was more contextualized learning: the idea of taking elearning into spaces and places where learners have needs. Another was social elearning: where we lift the lid and let people into the traditionally formal learning space.

So, with two recent articles from Jane Hart and Docebo getting our juices flowing with their calls for action, we figured it’s time to help you get ahead in these areas.

First, get your elearning shipshape

Ranking first in our predictions for 2017 is more contextualized learning. What we mean by this is not just content that is meaningful to the audience and their needs, but that fits into natural windows of consumption – right time, right format, right device – and adapts to the personal needs and preferences of individuals. High expectations? Not really, when you consider that users can look up what they want or need – be it a video, written guide, list of tips, graphic or interactive via Google or YouTube. Expectations for “getting what you want” are already the norm online.


Slide taken from Simon Greany’s recent presentation on using data in learning.

Splicing up content into different formats – quick-learn resources, immersive games, micro-challenges, articles and more – is a fantastically positive step in reshaping modern elearning. It’s about being in sync with modern learning behaviors, taking it to the spaces and moments where needs exist.

And then you can go one further than Google searches and YouTube, via great elearning technologies that support personalized journeys and smart, adaptive content. This content hones in, live, on the particular learning needs of individuals as they work through it.

Creating this kind of elearning is miles ahead of where elearning was just a few years ago.

Get that sorted, then you can look at the next question.

Where’s the social?

Jane Hart recently posted this diagram as part of her post on Why organizations need to empower employee-led learning:


Modern Workplace Learning by Jane Hart

Here’s the point: These are all ways in which people learn in the workplace. While our above guide might help modernize the L&D-led learning content, the majority of learning still takes place in social spaces: employee-driven learning, social and collaborative learning, and manager-led learning. Each of these needs a bit of a boost and attention from training teams.

So what happens if you start to break down the barriers?

What happens if you start to blur the boundaries between the L&D-led content and the socially generated content? Well, for a start, your elearning becomes something a lot greater than the sum of its parts. This is why we put social elearning at #6 in our predictions list.

Putting social into elearning means higher engagement, stickier learning experiences, and wider, more meaningful ripples of learning across an organization. Without breaking into a rendition of “Let it Go,” taking elearning into the social realm makes a people-powered experience out of your fantastically modern content. It will go well beyond the parameters of the device it was viewed on.

So, we’d like to see the boundaries between “formal” elearning and “informal” social learning begin to melt away – and we’re not the only ones. Docebo’s recent report on Social Learning for Engagement focuses on just that, citing social learning as a key way to engage people with learning – any learning.

Our tips for bringing the social into your elearning

1. Encourage and enable grassroots learning

Knowledge is power. Tapping into the vast knowledge bank of your employees and opening it up so it can be easily shared and digested by others makes a lot of sense – especially since swathes of experienced Baby Boomers are soon to walk out the door, knowledge and all. It’s content curation by people who get the learning context.

Empowering and involving employees in the learning curation, creation and process also makes good business sense. Engaged and involved employees help grow your business and spread your brand, positively. We discuss just two of the reasons in our post:

Look out, the Intrapreneurs are coming! 7 reasons you shouldn’t be scared of grassroots learning movements

How? Rather than creating content given to people to DO, empower employees to easily create, share and collaborate on content together. And, keep it alive; enable them to adapt it and update it as necessary. Equip managers with the same empowering tools that enable them to share, collaborate and coach their teams.


Elucidat enables employees to collaborate virtually to produce content, easily, that can then be shared via the cloud.

2. Crowd-source, and bare all

“Humans are compelled at a very primal level to seek out social engagement and approval. The ability to tap into that desire is what will allow the next generation of learning technology offerings to succeed where previous iterations may have failed to live up to their promise.” – Docebo

Open your mind to new ways of using elearning technologies, and consider how they can be used to tap into learner needs and crowd-source answers. Then bare the results open wide. If you’ve yet to be convinced of the power of seeking social consensus and approval, check out our post on the psychology behind social polling.

How? Set up surveys that dig into performance needs, before or during the learning design process:


And watch the results come in via smart data analytics:


Or, seek answers around controversial or gray-area subject areas, and let everyone see what everyone else thinks:


Elucidat is cloud-based, so it can capture and replay data, live – connecting learners with others’ opinions and answers.

3. Grab it and wrap it

In Docebo’s article, they state that:

“In the future workplace, subject matter experts across organizations will share their knowledge through eLearning platforms, gaining points or winning badges as they answer questions from peers.”

Be like Doc, and bring in the future now!

How? Here’s a quick idea you can do right now:

  • Drop in a ready-made video
  • Wrap-it with a social poll
  • Follow it with an employee-created quiz or game, with built in badges and scores
  • Drive competition by sharing comparisons between learners results and others’


See how we drive up competition with our behind-the-scenes look at our pudding challenge.

4. Spread the web

The big shift that’s needed to reshape elearning in a social mold is perhaps one of mindset. Don’t think that your elearning ends with the final page. In fact, don’t consider an end at all – instead, view it as a process or journey you’re trying to help get underway.

How? Use your elearning to launch into other well used workplace social platforms, newsletter sign-ups, related online articles, up to date subject briefings – like those via AndersPink – further content and, of course, your request for feedback from your users and their ideas on next steps.


A snapshot of how we signpost users in our Elucidat Masterclass topics.

Final thoughts

As learning technologies integrate more and more, the link between elearning and social learning platforms will become easier. But rather than purely thinking in terms of linking segmented elearning with social technologies, consider how you can begin to break down the barriers between the philosophies:

  • Let people into the creation of content through tools that empower and enable collaboration
  • Create live social learning experiences within the elearning content itself
  • Share socially mined results and data within the elearning experience

If you’d like to know more about how Elucidat enables you to do this, get in touch.