How an LMS Facilitates Collaborative Learning

Team of collaborators discussing ideas represented by colorful speech bubbles

According to Bersin by Deloitte, 80% of employee learning occurs in interactions with peers and supervisors in the workplace. Technologies and communities for collaborative learning are key to sharing knowledge across a global workforce. A robust learning management system and a strategy for user-generated content help organizations capture the value of internal subject matter experts (SMEs).

Why collaborative eLearning matters

Businesses are only just scratching the surface of the value of collaborative learning. Currently, the majority of workplace learning occurs via the following on-the-job interactions, such as:

  • Observing colleagues in the workplace.
  • Testing concepts and receiving feedback.
  • Face-to-face collaboration and discussion.
  • Watching, listening and absorbing workplace knowledge.

Your employees are already sharing knowledge with peers, whether or not your organization actively supports user-generated content or collaborative eLearning. The challenge is to scale this organic transfer of knowledge. Peer-to-peer learning across a distributed workforce requires a collaborative LMS experience. Social learning technologies for discussion and networking facilitate the capture and exchange of user-generated content—videos, webinars, documents and user-organized communities of practice.

User-generated content propels collaboration

Agrochemical company Syngenta uses robust LMS technology for knowledge sharing and collaboration across 9,500 global employees who are categorized into 10 networks, Supply Chain Brain reported. Each of the 10 internal networks supports user-generated multimedia content in a wiki, member profiles and technologies for social learning. Syngenta leadership reports these collaborative networks increase innovation capabilities and support talent retention.

User-generated content offers clear benefits to the enterprise and workforce, including greater collaboration among subject matter experts. Learners at all levels of the organization can contribute experience and knowledge through videos, documents and discussion of existing resources. User-generated content leads to greater recognition of key contributors. Collaboration between employees to create user-generated eLearning resources captures organizational knowledge. Active communities of practice and collaborative resources create intellectual friction and debate among experts, all of which sparks greater innovation.

Scaling collaboration across a distributed workforce

While it may be tempting to pursue your ideal vision of collaborative eLearning, the most effective communities of practice are self-governed by a global community of learners—similar to the Wikipedia model. Instead of creating tightly defined rules for user contributions, consider piloting a user-generated content program. Test collaborative eLearning within a small group of highly engaged subject matter experts before launching the program globally. This enables organizations to create the right balance of control and freedom for users within the LMS and identify potential issues. Post-launch, the core super users who participated in the pilot can call on their colleagues to contribute and help others get involved.

Successful collaborative learning communities use a broad mix of user-generated content—including wikis, social discussion and webinars—and understand the importance of community management. Super users and learning and development leaders should work to ensure all global users have the same positive experience. By facilitating organic discussion and collaboration among global experts, organizations are positioned to capture knowledge and spark innovation.