22 Social Learning Strategy Questions to Answer Before Your Next Lesson

by Renee Robbins on July 1, 2010

As an industry we are so excited about informal learning and even more so about the smaller facet of social learning that we are too quick to jump on the bandwagon and call what we do “Social Learning” (note the capitalization).   So what do we have to do to turn our fascination with social learning into a true Social Learning strategy for our training programs?  I say it starts off with asking a few good questions.


Some of these may seem obvious, but it never ceases to amaze me the number of trainers and educators that don’t ask the most important questions upfront. 

  1. What is the primary purpose of this program/class/training?
  2. Who exactly is your target audience?
  3. How long do you have to ensure that your learners are proficient in this topic?
  4. Is it better for my learners to use a formal or an informal learning approach?
  5. If informal is best, should you use on-demand learning, social learning, or embedded learning?  (Check out  Bersin & Associates’ Enterprise Learning Framework for more on this breakdown.)


When it comes to social learning the market is filling up faster than ever with new toys you can use to support your programs.  That is why it is so important to have a clear set of goals before moving toward choosing a social learning tool.  Otherwise you will soon fall victim to “bright shiny object” syndrome. 

  1. Who has the expertise you need to create this program/class/training?
  2. How comfortable are your learners with the material right now?
  3. Can you leverage the knowledge other employees currently have to help this new class of learners?
  4. Are your learners computer savvy or struggling with their email?
  5. Are your learners willing to put themselves out there and potentially show how much they don’t know about a topic?
  6. Do the learners need instant access to experts to answer their questions while on the job?
  7. Do you want to ensure that detailed documentation is available for future reference?
  8. How much off-topic chit chat are you willing to allow?
  9. Does the workload of your employees allow time for seriously working through the questions/problems of others?
  10. Do you have the staffing to support the solution?
  11. What does your IT Department already have on hand that they feel might fit the bill?
  12. Who will “own” the solution, monitor to ensure the solution is working for all learners, and assist learners in finding answers when needed?


 As we all know, our industry has struggled with measuring informal learning, especially social learning.  Nevertheless, that doesn’t give us a free pass.  We still have to tackle these questions, even if we know that the answers are not going to be perfect.

  1. What are the outcomes that equal success?
  2. What is the knowledge change between what your learners knew coming into the training vs. finishing the training?
  3. Is self reported data sufficient for this training?
  4. Has there been a positive change in the business outcomes associated with this training with no other identifiable cause?
  5. What are your friends in the Marketing Department doing to prove the value of their social media marketing campaigns? (Check out The Real Secret to Social Learning Success in 2010 for a start.)

These are by no means the only social learning strategy questions that you need to ask, but they will get you moving in the right direction.  Once you have these answers you will be better prepared to develop your next social learning intervention.


Related Posts

  1. Social Media Tools in Social Learning
  2. The Real Secret to Social Learning Success in 2010
  3. Top 10 Ways Social Media Will Impact Employee Development and Training in 2010
  4. What Can Blogs Do For You… and Your Learners? A Social Learning Case Study Review
  5. Using Online Forums in Social Learning

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July 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm

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Stephanie July 2, 2010 at 5:58 am

I think the measurement questions are the ones that are the most challenging, especially when it comes to the discussion of ROI for social learning programs. Question 4 hits it right on the head: Is it worth it? Has social learning itself proved to be a positive experience for corporate traning programs?

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