Learning Trend 3: Social Learning Comes of Age

This trend has been through some ups and down over the last number of years. Social and collaborative learning gained some traction from expectations that everything would become social, paralleling the power of social at the consumer level, then followed by the ‘reality check’ of the complexities of social in a corporate context, particularly so in areas like banking.

Social and collaborative is on the up again, however, with LXPs that capitalize on the power of sharing and knowledge exchange, and the growth of data analytics that can help drive curation, sharing of relevant knowledge, and personalization. And it’s an important trend, given the increasingly recognised effectiveness of peer-based learning, as well as the potential role of social in facilitating both informal and formal learning.

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New tools and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Facebook’s Workplace, Asana and Jive are increasingly popular in the corporate world. Slack, a collaboration tool for real time messaging and file sharing, now has 10 million daily active users on the platform including 65 of the Fortune 100[1]. Microsoft teams was being used by 329,000 organisations as of September 2018[2], and reportedly ranked as the second most popular business chat app by late last year.[3] Facebook also recently released figures for its Workplace tool, its enterprise focused collaboration platform, saying that it now has 2 million paying users.[4] It seems that the connected workplace is where it’s at. Or at least where it’s all headed.[5]

In Deloitte’s 2018 report on the rise of the social enterprise[6], Deloitte highlights the trends of the ‘hyper-connected workplace’ as part of the increased level of collaboration in the evolving social enterprise, reflected in a much greater level of interaction between and amongst workers and with the outside world, alongside the rise of workplace collaboration tools, in an environment with both responsibility and opportunity. For the enterprise as a whole, this social enterprise evolution must be well managed and carefully led to the benefit of the organisation. As far as employee learning is concerned, this increased focus on collaboration presents an opportunity to also drive learning in a way that supports and enables individual and organizational success. And like the organization as a whole, collaborative learning must be managed and led with clear and careful strategy to deliver on its potential.

Donald Taylor’s Global Sentiment survey 2019 places Social/Collaborative 4th (down from 2nd in 2018).


We believe social learning is (finally) coming of age. It can be used to facilitate both formal and informal modes of learning, through structured modes such as communities of practice as well as unstructured methods, such as shared content and feedback and discussion that can occur organically around sharing. It can help promote active learning and empower learners to meaningfully direct their own learning.

It is social learning wrapped into a strong work function however, and not just social for social’s sake. Now, with the advent of strong enterprise collaboration tools with built in social channels, video meeting tools, content sharing and editing platforms and a capacity to integrate with other social tools and productivity apps, we see a game changing social learning come about. Coupled with a range of new platforms that make it easier than ever before for organizations to successfully and securely enable collaborative learning, and a large segment of the workforce raised on digital social, the obstacles are being wiped away, social learning is integrated into a seamless work environment and the benefits accrue.

Fostering an environment of social and collaborative learning should be on the radar of everyone with responsibility for organizational learning.



  1. Use systems and tools that help your organization and your workers harness the benefit of social for sharing, contributing, knowledge exchange and development. Consider what tools will work for your context and culture.
  2. Encourage people to connect with both peers and more experienced colleagues.
  3. Think curation: how can social help your people curate effectively, continually enriching the resources at their disposal with accurate, relevant and quality materials.
  4. Social requires a different mindset from L&D: think facilitation rather than delivery, enabling rather than controlling


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[1] https://slackhq.com/slack-has-10-million-daily-active-users/

[2] https://venturebeat.com/2018/09/24/microsoft-teams-is-now-used-by-329000-organizations-up-from-200000-in-march/

[3] https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2018/12/12/number-of-companies-using-microsoft-teams-to-double-within-two-years/

[4] https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/28/facebook-says-that-workplace-now-has-2m-paying-users/

[5] https://www.intuition.com/the-connected-workplace-ringing-the-changes-of-a-new-era-in-collaborative-working/

[6] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/HCTrends2018/2018-HCtrends_Rise-of-the-social-enterprise.pdf