Building a Social Learning Environment in SharePoint

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Building a Social Learning Environment in SharePoint

As professionals, we are constantly striving to implement the best conditions for ultimate productivity. Social learning will play an even more important role in training and is expected to be the standard, not the exception, in years to come. Savvy businesses already know the hidden social learning gem found within SharePoint and this blog will discuss in detail how you can use the software to take your business to the next level.


With all the latest and greatest technology on the market, one would think that business is set up to succeed in a big way. What studies are finding is that productivity is actually down and there is a real gap in performance potential.

With that said, a recent study by Bersin Deloitte shows that there is a strong trend for companies to look into improving the overall employee experience and are actively building organizational ecosystems and networks (i.e. social activity and social learning) to improve performance.

Millennials are already the biggest and most influential generation after Baby Boomers. And they dominate the workforce today. Millennials have a strong need for social learning, a method anthropologists theorize is actually the natural way people learned in human history. It has been suggested that social learning can improve productivity by up to 30 percent or more.

Currently, only about 14 percent of companies believe their internal processes for social learning and collaboration are working well and 77 percent believe email is no longer a viable tool for effective communication.

But, the trouble that companies have experienced in the past is that individuals tend to adapt very quickly to new technology while companies are much slower in adoption. In order to stay competitive, companies must adapt quicker to technology and lifestyle changes.


There has been an explosion of various systems to improve the employee experience from Skype to Trello. But, all come with an additional cost, more set-up and yet another system to navigate and passwords to remember.

What if there was already a collaboration and social learning solution that is right under your nose? Microsoft SharePoint.

A common theme among companies that use Microsoft SharePoint is that they ‘don’t use it like they should.’ Meanwhile, these same companies spend money on other collaboration platforms because they need forums, microblogging, wikis, file sharing and blogs.

What makes this so astonishing is that most of the features that companies pay for in other collaboration products are already available in Microsoft SharePoint. Why pay for features you already have?

There are many benefits of using SharePoint for social learning. The value proposition of a social learning community is easy to articulate with the key drivers being the ability to:

  • Turn learning events into learning journeys;
  • Sustain engagement throughout the learning track (before, during and post-event);
  • Create blended learning tracks (integrate synchronous and asynchronous components);
  • Flip a learning event by pushing out content to the community;
  • Encourage peer to peer sharing and sense making;
  • Incorporate the ‘test as you teach’ methodology.

Social Learning: Team Training

There is a surge in team training and collaboration, especially with the rise of freelance and remote workers.

Team sites in SharePoint are the perfect solution to engage workers and improve productivity. We know that a big portion of training happens outside of the classroom and in the work environment, this is an area that poses big benefits.

SharePoint team sites make intradepartmental collaboration and information-sharing as easy as pie. Upload content, create task lists for team members, use blogs or wikis to share information, gather input with discussions or surveys and create a team calendar. SharePoint can even be synced with Microsoft Project. By doing so, you can make changes in Project and then discuss with your team in SharePoint.

A SharePoint-based LMS also adds another layer of features by adding the ability to tie a learning course to a discussion in SharePoint. This keeps the conversation going and learners engaged.

Real-time feedback is also a must-have for Millennials. They want to know how they’re doing immediately, not just during yearly evaluations. Managers can create surveys and feedback forms in SharePoint at any time. Or, pose a question that is open on forums for employees to give their immediate feedback.

Social Learning: Community Sites

Social learning doesn’t just happen in small groups. There is ongoing opportunity to tap into a wider base of knowledge with SharePoint community sites.

Community sites give the user a forum experience which is intended to cultivate discussions with a broad group of people across an organization. Community Sites promote open communication and information exchange by fostering discussions among users who share their expertise and use expertise of others who have knowledge in specific areas of interest.

Community sites are particularly great with the onboarding process. Instead of a new employee waiting to find out the answer to a question they may have from their manager, they can post on a community site and fellow workers can chime in.

Social Learning: My Sites

MySites are another great social feature of SharePoint. They are essentially personal profiles that provide a central place for users to store personal and shared documents, promote their user information and expertise, tag content, and communicate with others by using the note board. Through people search, users can connect with one another and benefit from expertise of others in their organization. My Sites also contain a microblog and newsfeed feature. These features allow users to engage in short, public conversations and keep up-to-date on activities from content and people in which they are interested.

Social learning is here to stay but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go out and buy a new collaboration system. For those that already use SharePoint, it provides exactly the social features to propel business productivity through Team, Community and My sites. Same time, save money while increasing engagement and productivity with social learning in SharePoint.

Key Consideration:
Technology, Selection

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