Collaborative learning creates a more evolved workforce

  • Encourage employees to create and share their own materials.

  • Grant employees easy approvals to work learning time into their schedules.

  • Inspire employees with formal recognition through certifications and gamification-style rewards.

Technology is now an integral part of education in the workplace. Learning and e-learning aren’t seen as different disciplines but rather as two different sides of a coin.

The best enterprise collaboration platforms are now seamlessly blended with learning tools. This means connecting co-workers and advancing worker knowledge and expertise are integrated activities. Employees no longer have to think about learning or collaboration specifically; they just naturally gravitate to the people and resources they need to do their jobs better.

This convergence is known as collaborative learning. It reduces reliance on structured, isolated courseware and loosely affiliated discussion groups in favor of a focused approach that encourages teamwork and group effort. By breaking down artificial isolation, collaborative learning emphasizes the coordination and joint focus that is so essential for growth.

It also solves problems that artificial constructs like knowledge management hoped to address, particularly breaking down isolated pockets and silos of organizational wisdom. When employees are encouraged and empowered to share information and create teaching decks and modules, it is easier to ensure vital processes aren’t locked up in one person’s brain.

Want to perform a quick self-audit to see whether your organization is truly embracing collaborative learning? Look for these traits:

Autonomy: Self-determination is a crucial component of collaborative learning. Learners must be able to identify their own needs and work through materials at a pace that feels comfortable to them. You can still have discipline for onboarding and to supervise progress, but collaborative learning moves past rigid course schedules. Workers who have tightly scheduled shifts, such as call center employees, must be able to get easy approval to work learning time into their schedules.

High-quality, curated content: Collaborative learning encourages employees to create and share their own materials, which is a wonderful component of the discipline. But the core should still be professionally produced and curated by expert eyes.

Immediate access: Gaining access to learning materials must be quick and seamless, ideally through single sign-on technology. Materials should be comfortable and convenient to search and browse, with personalized recommendations based on role, title, and previous content.

Informal progress with formal recognition: It’s important that employees know their efforts are being recorded and recognized, whether through formal internal certification processes or casual, gamification-style rewards inside the platform. Supervisors should have access to learning data so they can have meaningful conversations with employees about progress.

Social sharing: Employees should have access to tools that make it easy to share and recommend learning modules to others. Social news feeds and profiles that display learning activity and notes are a good first step. Invite employees to offer the most succinct and informative summaries and endorsements of key learning modules, then promote the best of them to a wider audience. This will help encourage discussion and further sharing.

The simplest test of all for an effective, accessible learning environment? When collaborative learning is working, nobody feels like it’s work to learn.


Jason Compton is an internationally published writer and reporter with extensive experience in enterprise technologies, including marketing, sales, service, and collaboration. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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