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What is a Social Learning platform?

E-learning is all the rage, especially as the events of 2020 have rapidly driven a lot — continue reading
Posted by Adela Kalkantova
September 23, 2020

E-learning is all the rage, especially as the events of 2020 have rapidly driven a lot of organizations, institutions and companies completely online. There is now a sudden immediate need to find ways to train, educate and build knowledge remotely over the internet. Within the broad category of e-learning, however, social learning has proven to be a very successful model. This is because it makes the online learning experience, which can easily leave you feeling isolated and demotivated, more engaging through building strong collaborative and community-oriented motivators into the learning system.

In this blog post, you will find what social learning is, what unique benefits it holds and how Open Social’s social learning solution compares to some of the top e-learning platforms or Learning Management Systems (LSM) available. 

What is Social Learning?

The term ‘social learning’ is most famously associated with the work by psychologist Albert Bandura who studied learning processes that occur in interpersonal contexts. This became known as Social Learning Theory.

In his research, Bandura concluded that learning is a primarily cognitive process — but one which takes place within social contexts. In other words, we learn best by interacting with others in our social environments. There are fundamental human habits at work when we learn, including imitation, observation, communication and the act of modelling our behaviour on people we admire.

Of course, Social Learning Theory becomes rather complex when you start delving into the works of Albert Bandura and other theorists! However, the basic principles of Social Learning Theory have been applied to a number of industries and fields — including education, training and even HR management. This is because social learning practices can help organizations maximize the talent within their teams by letting people share knowledge and expertise through a structured and collaborative learning experience.

Social learning systems create highly engaging environments for improvement, as course material gets inserted into a cycle where team- or community members learn through helping others learn. This creates a collaborative cycle of knowledge creation and distribution where people get to ask questions, develop new knowledge, and then help others learn.


The Power of Online Social Learning

One problem with traditional e-learning is that we often end up sitting by ourselves at a desk with earphones in doing course work in isolation. There is only self-discipline keeping us committed to our courses.

Inversely, it has been shown that the more social and e-learning experience is, the more effective (and enjoyable!) it becomes. For example, course completion increased to 85% on HBX, a Harvard Business School online education initiative, when it introduced social learning components.

The mix of social or community software and e-learning software is thus a natural fit. While there are countless e-learning or learning management tools and services available, the most innovative of these have been social learning software.

Research by McKinsey Global Institute found that by using social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25%. This can be greatly facilitated by introducing e-learning components to the social or community software within an organization. Especially if you take a look at the 70/20/10 Model for Learning and Development holds that:

  • 70% of their learning from on-the-job experiences.
  • 20% of their knowledge is from interactions with others.
  • 10% of the learning from structured or formal training

Social learning software rolls all of these into one platform, we’re learning on the job or within an organization is integrated into the online social interaction between colleagues or community members. This is then complemented by formal learning structures made possible through features or tools such as Courses, Badges, Quizzes and more.


Online Social Learning tools can help your organization: 

  • Create, implement and manage media-rich courses and training material
  • Keep colleagues or community members engaged with the courses through social interaction and build a cohesive and collaborative community
  • Facilitate relationship building within your organization through learning and training tools
  • Allow members to connect and help each other
  • Leverage internal knowledge systems and allow members to benefits others with their knowledge
  • Generate new knowledge internally and create community-generate content
  • Foster co-working structures
  • Facilitates learner engagement
  • Brings about self-organisation among learners
  • Triggers collaboration
  • Can be used to supplement various corporate training needs

Importantly, social learning software is not just for businesses. It can also help NGOs cost-effectively increase competencies and expertise within their organizations. Online social learning can bring experts and volunteers together on a platform that allows members to learn at their own pace and from anywhere in the world. More importantly, it can encourage members to learn from each other and create dialogue throughout the learning process.

Want to know more about e-learning in general? Read Why We Need to Learn More: eLearning and Beyond!

How do you pick a social learning platform for your organization?

Setting up an Open Social e-learning environment is the fastest, most cost-effective way to increase competencies and expertise within your organization. With easy to use modules, you can quickly build graded quizzes and courses to upskill your members, implement new training, onboard new employees, or deploy new knowledge in your community with interactive content.

There are, however, a number of other e-Learning and LMS platforms that you can choose from! So to help you pick the one that fits your organization best, we compared Open Social to some of the top e-Learning platforms available. In the comparison guides you can see point-by-point comparisons related to features, pricing, customizability and more.


Open Social vs eloomi

eloomi is a very comprehensive LMS from Denmark. It has a strong focus on corporate training and upskilling courses and offers unique HR-related tools such as peer-appraisal, self-appraisal and performance tracking.

However, Open Social has a much stronger social or community component for social learning. This comes with a number of features, tools and customizations that eloomi doesn’t offer.

Both eloomi and Open Social also offer ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions that are easy to set up and start using. Open Social offers slightly more control over your platform, as you can build and layout custom content blocks on user landing pages.

Download the full 63 point comparison here

Open Social vs 360Learning

360Learning is a very powerful e-learning solution. However, that is all that it is. The unique benefit of Open Social is that it is so much more than just for learning, training or member development — but offers a fully-fledged online community experience.

For example: While both platforms offer offline event scheduling, 360Learning only allows these in the form of scheduling face-to-face training within a course curriculum.

360Learning also offers a slightly simpler and less customizable platform. Customizability means that you have more control to tailor the platform to your specific needs.

Download the full 63 point comparison here

Open Social vs SAP Litmos

SAP Litmos offers more intensive training and learning tools, while Open Social offers many more features for online community collaboration, connection and communication. For us, this is an important dimension of social learning.

SAP Litmos also offers a number of customizations to the look & feel of your platform. However, most of these require custom CSS and Javascript to be added to your website. This is a complicated and unreliable method. Open Social offers you easy customization within your platform dashboard, allowing you to change layouts, menus, colour schemes and more.

Download the full 63 point comparison here

Choosing Between e-Learning and Social Learning

To get the most out of an online learning environment, we believe it is necessary to look at the social learning components and capabilities. We believe that Open Social is a unique solution in this space. While other platforms might have a stronger focus on the learning component, or offer additional course libraries, Open Social is first and foremost an online community platform. And when you mix that with knowledge building and learning – you unlock the full potential of social learning.

To find out more about what Open Social can do for your organization, you can easily schedule a one-on-one demo and we can show you all the features (and also what Open Social would look like branded for your organization!)

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