Social learning is taking the corporate world by storm. Learning through collaboration, observation and interactions with our peers is driving a new way to learn and engage. While there are many corporate learning tools available to encourage this – think Yammer, Slack, etc. you don’t have to spend a fortune to foster social learning in your corporate learning strategy today. Apps such as WhatsApp – easily available, free and intuitive to use are a great way for your employees to interact, share and learn.

Harnessing the popularity of WhatsApp

The Facebook owned messenger app now exceeds more than 1.5 billion users – that’s more than 20% of the global population using the same platform to communicate!

HBR puts the popularity of WhatsApp down to two stand out factors:

  • It is simple to use, with a very low entry point for new users
  • Its business model is not based on advertising revenue, so users are not distracted by adverts

Demystifying the Modern Learner

How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

The simple interface has many useful features that can be harnessed to foster social learning:

  • Groups – build communities and share learning content
  • Voice recording– send quick voice clips, observations, insights or thoughts to your group
  • Video and voice calls – make interactions real with short videos or live video calls
  • Photos and videos – share a variety of didactic multimedia

How can HR and L&D professionals optimize these features to provide a different approach to learning and deploy social learning quickly and easily?

WhatsApp increases learner engagement

A controlled experiment to measure the effectiveness of WhatsApp to foster social learning was carried out with students at Taibah University in Saudi Arabia.

The findings were very encouraging with better learning achievement and attitude from the WhatsApp experimental group compared to the controlled learning group.

The experimental WhatsApp learners were able to share information, ideas and questions via the messenger platform and contact their instructor outside class – thus driving engagement and commitment

Getting vocal with WhatsApp

We have all adopted SMS, WhatsApp, Skype and Instant messaging. Short sentences quickly fired off can produce an interactive and lively debate with other users in the group. Making yourself heard and engaging with other social learners can prove to be very productive and efficient.

What is Social Learning and How Can HR Benefit from it?

Making learning fun

Learning that doesn’t feel like learning can be more effective and have a greater impact.  Using WhatsApp “hides” the learning methodology from the learner, and introduces a more relaxed, fun and flexible approach. 

This makes learning and studying less emotionally negative. According to the Center for Development and Learning, negative emotions have an adverse impact on learning.

If someone feels stressed, angry, or sad because of their work, personal life or their training, then they may retain less information and be less motivated to learn.

With learner engagement high on the list of corporate learning priorities for HR and L&D professionals, WhatsApp and its use to foster social learning can be a very useful weapon in your arsenal to drive learner engagement.

WhatsApp makes learning more enjoyable and takes it out of formal training scenarios into a more relaxed environment.  Learning via social messaging tools such as WhatsApp can be constructive, impactful and more cost-effective.

Ticking all the boxes

Learning psychologists have known for more than 50 years that social learning is the most effective approach for teaching adults new skills. 

In our digital era, it has become much simpler to enable social learning. A European Scientific Journal study showed that the use of social networking on WhatsApp was more effective than learning in a traditional classroom setting.

Shared resources, easy access to a knowledgeable trainer and to colleagues, light-hearted group discussions, and being able to absorb information at one’s own pace are all very useful ways to make learning more enjoyable and effective.

HR and L&D professionals can apply this information to their training and development programs by using WhatsApp to foster social learning. It’s not often that something so useful and effective, yet so simple, is free.