Investments in training appear to be on the rise. Many experts expect that training will be a major focus for organizations in the upcoming year. It makes sense. As our economy continues to move in a positive direction, consumers will demand better service.
This translates to a need for customer-service training, as well as management and leadership training. These are all poised for increases in 2012.
The amount spent on training jumped about 13 percent from 2010, according to the 2011 Training Industry Report. The expenditures included increases in overall training budgets and payroll, and spending on outside products and services.
Along with the increased attention on training, a conversation about value and retention is happening. Ways to engage participants and enhance the value of training are part of that discussion, as new tools and methods emerge.
Here are three areas that combine social development with learning. Consider integrating them in your business during this year.
1. Social learning
Tony Bingham, president and CEO of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), is helping, is helping define social learning.
“Social learning is learning with and from others, often—but not always—with social media tools," Bingham says. "Social learning is a powerful approach to sharing and discovering a whole array of options. [It leads] to more informed decision-making and a more intimate, expansive and dynamic understanding of the culture and context in which we work.”
There are many benefits to incorporating social learning into an organization.
“Incorporating social learning creates networks of knowledgeable people to work across time and space to make informed decisions and solve complex problems," Bingham says. "Learning happens more quickly and broadly. Innovation happens faster. And tacit knowledge can be retained and reused.”
Companies are paying attention to the benefits. ASTD’s research report, "Transforming Learning with Web 2.0 Technologies," indicates that 87 percent of respondents predict that their companies are more likely to use Web 2.0 technologies in the next three years than they currently do. Bingham offers several examples of how companies are applying social learning in his book, The New Social Learning.
2. Social networking techniques
Defining social learning is still a work in progress. Many trainers use social networking platforms to create activities and exercises for their programs. Jane Bozarth, e-learning coordinator for the State of North Carolina and author of Social Media for Trainers, explains how using social networks can enhance training.
“Social media tools help to amplify the social and informal learning already going on in organizations all the time, every day, and make the learning available on a much larger scale," says Bozarth. "They provide ways to connect talent pools and expertise in an organization or within a practice area, and can offer just-in-time solutions to problems and performance issues.”
The reaction from participants is very positive.
“Participants are happy to engage with one another using social media tools for training purposes," says Bozarth. "They find it convenient, useful for learning at the moment of need, and [it helps them] develop a greater sense of control over their learning.”
Trainers shouldn’t fear adding a social component to their programs. Bozarth says it’s pretty easy to do.
“Social media tools are just tools. [They] can be effectively employed to support the gamut of training activities, from introductions to role plays to discussions of video clips, and anything in between,” she says.
Bozarth hopes "learning and development practitioners [will move] toward partnering with learners and away from feeling their role is to direct them.”
A frequent training request is make subjects fun. What better way to learn a new topic than by playing a game?
“Studies indicate that games, when designed properly, motivate learners, improve learner retention and encourage students who aren’t typically ‘academic’ to partake in the learning process," says Karl M. Kapp, professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University and author of The Gamification of Training: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Learning and Instruction. "There is no reason learning has to always be hard or difficult.”
It’s important to note that not all games are created equal when it comes to learning.
“Some people see gamification simply as the process of adding points, badges or rewards to the learning process and instantly creating engagement, interactivity and motivation for learning, says Kapp. "This view is wrong.”
Look at the real reasons why games are popular, says Kapp, and apply those elements to the process. “When done correctly, gamification provides an experience that is inherently engaging and, most importantly, promotes learning. The elements of games that make for effective gamification are … storytelling (which provides a context), challenge, immediate feedback, sense of curiosity, problem-solving, a sense of accomplishment, autonomy and mastery.”
Adding social networks and games to training programs has the potential to shake up the learning experience. It can create constant learning opportunities, real-time knowledge-sharing and improved participant engagement.
What do you think of bringing social into the learning experience? Share your thoughts in the comments.