The landscape of learning is changing, but are instructional designers and trainers changing too? In order for learning to be as effective and engaging as possible, those developing and delivering learning have to think differently about their roles. We can no longer assume that if we build it, learners will come. Learners today can find answers to their questions in a matter of minutes, sometimes even seconds, so we as developers must get them to interact and get them to come to OUR platform to find the answer.


As an instructional designer and trainer, it is imperative that we enable learners to ask questions, ponder ideas, interact with other asynchronous learners, have conversations with experts, challenge ideas…yes…BE SOCIAL. Social learning is everywhere. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn groups, people are questioning, conversing, and yes, learning.
Jane Bozarth, author of Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning, defines social learning as, “learning with and from others by moving within one’s culture, workplace, and world. It’s often unconscious and unintentional, and it often looks more like solving a problem or working together to make sense of something. Social learning is how most of us learn most things: through living in our cultures and interacting with others there. It’s how babies learn to talk and how we learn the basic rules of getting along on the playground. It’s all around us every day, from water cooler conversations to asking a co-worker for an opinion.” Social learning is not a fad, it is here to stay. So as a developer and a deliverer of training, how can you think about your content in this new context?
  1. Get Involved – Join in the conversation yourself whether on a Virtual Campus, eLearning communities, like eLearning Heroes, or LinkedIn elearning groups.
  2. Create a Learning Network– Share resources with your colleagues, learners, and peers. When you see a great article or a new perspective on a topic, share it.
  3. Ask Questions – Get out of your comfort zone and ask questions when you have them. It is okay if you don’t know everything. When you are learning and you come across a question or idea, ask it or share it.
  4. Make the time – It takes 21 days to form a habit so for 21 days, block 30 minutes in your calendar to spend on reading an article on one of your learning networks, following an eLearning chat on Twitter, reviewing what others have posted and responded with your thoughts and ideas.

So…what will you do when you are designing or delivering training to encourage learners to be social and engage today’s learner?