Social Learning - How Social is Your LMS

Viren Kapadia November 5, 2020
Social Learning - How Social is Your LMS

Almost every aspect of our life today has become ‘social’. And by social, we mean uploaded on to social media. Be it dining out, vacations, shopping, or life events, we tend to post almost everything that we do on different social media platforms. So why should learning stay behind? Social learning is the perfect solution for having to train remotely located employees, and especially in the current times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The term ‘Social Learning’ is derived from the ‘Social Learning Theory’ by Albert Bandura, which refers to learning through:

  • Attention
  • Imitation
  • Recording of others’ response to the imitation
  • Reinforcement/Change depending on the positive or negative response

Why Social Learning is Important?

Learning in a social environment is much more effective and the retention rate is much higher. This is because the ‘learner’ does not just passively receive instruction, but actively learns through experience. It is easier for people to remember lived experiences in daily life rather than what comes their way in the form of formal instruction.

Some of the world’s leading organizations are increasingly investing in LMS with social learning functions in the quest of making their training program more interactive and effective An LMS that can connect and engage learners like a social network boosts overall participation, comprehension, and learning satisfaction.

Learning Management Systems (LMSs) can prove to be great facilitators of such social learning in the following ways:

Enabling communication

The latest LMS platforms provide 2-way communication channels among learners as also learners and trainers. Thus, they replicate a classroom environment but on a much more convenient and comfortable virtual platform. This allows for free and open discussions, sharing of doubts, and exchange of ideas, thus facilitating informal learning.

Group Assignments

At work, everyone is expected to work collaboratively, so why should learning not be collaborative? An LMS can enable trainers to offer assignments that trainees can take in groups. While working on such assignments, not only would their learning be reinforced, but if they have missed out on any parts, the retention gaps would be covered through active peer interaction.

Content Sharing

By enabling social learning, an LMS can allow users to share relevant content, be it research papers or free MOOCs with the rest of their peer group. Thus, the peer group will be encouraged to share such content that is relevant to the topic and can thus enhance the learning experience.

Training Feedback

The content of the training modules needs to be regularly updated to ensure that trainees have access to the most relevant information. More importantly, any existing concerns with the content need to be promptly rectified. By enabling communication, a social LMS can ensure that learners can share their feedback with the trainers to improve upon the existing content and maximize its utility.

Apart from the above, a social LMS can also include some or all of the following features:

Creating user profiles

Trainees can provide some personal information and create their profiles on the platform. This enables the participants to get to know each other. Users can post updates, pictures, stories, biography, etc. to make their profile more social.

Friending and following

Learners should be able to connect with their fellow learners by the virtue of following or befriending them. They should be able to exchange ideas and insights with each other. Collaborative learning helps participants explore new horizons and improve their comprehension level.

RSS / Newsfeeds

Just like social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, your LMS too can feature a news feed where the latest updates can be shared. Learners can share their achievements, questions, queries, announcements, etc. on a common news feed. Also, an RSS feed can keep learners updated about the latest developments.


The invention of notifications changed the game for social media. It increased the engagement level to a different level. Notifications can be used to catch the attention of participants and make your LMS more social.

Live Chat

Chat is an essential part of any social application. Your LMS should allow participants to chat with one another or their instructor for quick communication. Learners should be able to create chat groups and use this feature to get instant help from fellow learners.

User-Generated Content

UGS is at the core of any digital community. If you want to deliver a community-like experience to your learners, your LMS should encourage them to create and share content on their newsfeed. They can share updates about their learnings with a larger group. Group discussions and forums are a great tool to enable UGC and promote social learning among participants.


Learners should be able to conduct polls on the platform. It makes a great tool to get a quick point of view from everyone in the group without a detailed discussion. Polling in LMS makes it easy for the instructor to quickly assess the thoughts of the learning group.

How do you make a transition towards social learning?

Organizations can assess the current level of social learning in their training program and plan a strategy to make the training more social. You need to identify the features needed to achieve your specific social learning objectives. Once that identified, you need to assess the efforts required. For example, if participants are autonomous and the learning program is focused on individual skill-sets, then transition to social learning may take more time and resources.

Once you identify the need, you need to decide what is your end goal. For example, do you want the learners to be more participative and exchange knowledge to fully explore the subjects or you want role-play based learning and hence need a social learning setup? Once this decision has been taken, you need to identify the LMS platform that supports these requirements or checks with your existing LMS vendor if they can facilitate the same.

Once you select the platform, the next step is to encourage your learners to collaborate and interact on the platform. The success of social learning depends on group collaboration and interaction. Spark conversations on the forum and incentivize learners to be more participative.

Today, cutting-edge LMS solutions offer most of the above features. Such features can make learning a social experience, and not only boost learners’ interest in participating in the training but also deliver substantive benefits for the company culture.