Social Learning (My Acronym Definition)

You probably (or maybe not) have heard about social learning.  For those of you who have not, here is a quick definition for you:

Social Learning is about creating and sharing information and knowledge with other people using  social media tools that support a collaborative approach to learning.  Social Learning is fast becoming recognised as a valuable way of supporting formal learning and enabling informal learning within an organisation.

I was recently reading an article titled The 8 Truths of Social Learning and it started me thinking about my own view on social learning.  Personally I believe the journey seems to be still in it’s early phase.  And I think sometimes there is a difference of what social is and how to be social.  Sounds weird doesn’t it?  Social learning is not just content.  In my opinion it is, or should be, more than that (such as interactive and wait for it…learning from it).  So, instead of rambling on, why don’t I explain it in an acronym.  Don’t we all love acronym’s?  And look how cute this is…I am going to use the word Social for my definition 🙂

First I will define it what I feel is Social Learning:

Socially sourced and searchable

On my device


Interesting and relevant




Socially Sourced and Searchable
OK, I cheated here and added two things to the “S”.  But, bear with me as they are both important.  First of all, content should be socially sourced.  What I mean is the majority of content should be sourced (created) by the community.  Not content publishers.  Not social media experts.  You or the social circle.  Listen, I am fine with having some content creation to kick off the community, but if that is your main source of content, that is less social and more content.  And I know there is value in having conversations around content, but you want to get to a point that your social circle is publishing the content.  OK, I won’t spend much time on Search here…but basically, in this day and age of Google, content needs to be searchable.  And I mean a competent search…not just a search box.  Enough said.

On my device and On Demand
The learning should be not just accessible, but scaled to my device.  Whether it be a phone, tablet, PC, watch or a 60-inch screen.  Use responsive design.  Don’t make me pinch and zoom.  Make it an enjoyable experience (my two cents – build mobile first).

For goodness sake, don’t write a novel.  Actually, I am pretty guilty in this blog where it is getting pretty wordy.  But if you look, I am chunking the content with a certain amount of whitespace.  This makes it a little easier reading on a screen and gives the viewer an opportunity to scan the content.  And when you chunk, it is easier for people to comment and interact on (specific or targeted) content.

Interesting and relevant
I know this should be self-evident, but if you’re learning content is not interesting, it will be harder to get any social traction.  Yes, it needs to be relevant (if not, what is the point?), but if it is not interesting, don’t expect and social interactions around it. And while I am talking about relevant, make sure when you are surfacing notifications to people, that they can get to the relevant information fast.  For example, if you are sending people e-mail daily digests, make sure you surface relevant information; not just “someone posted to this forum”. Target the content (which means I can learn in my inbox) or I can click right to that relevant information for interaction.

Don’t make it difficult to get to.  If it is a locked community, then make sure the option to have passwords “remember me” option enabled. I have no problem getting e-mail notifications, but make it easy to get to the interaction. Make sure EVERY main web browser (including older versions) can access it.  Make sure you can deep link to it (one link).  Also, see above “on my device”.

Remember, this is a social event.  People do not NEED to be there (unless you are mandating social learning…deep sigh).  Here is an example.  Would you rather be at your Uncle Scot’s 85 birthday event (hey, he is a likable old sort) or be interacting on Facebook?  Both are social events.  One you may “like” a little bit more. Be likeable.  Hey, I might make that a slogan on a T-shirt and make millions ;).

Anyway, there you go.  My Social in Social Learning.


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