Collaborative learning is gaining traction and attention among learning professionals lately, but it's always been a part of how we learn. You are using collaborative learning when you ask a question of your cube mate, when you shadow a more experienced peer, or when you search through files left from a previous employee to find an answer. What's changed recently is how technology can help harness that natural inclination, observe the activity, and measure the results.
There are many advantages to nurturing collaboration in your organization, but let's look at five good reasons:
- Increase the reach and connection of subject matter expertise across your organization.
- Pull people in front of the information they need when they need it.
- Give and get feedback on contributed content to ensure accuracy.
- Surface expertise by giving your unknown experts a platform on which to share what they know.
- Make learning stick by making it relevant and available in the moment it will be used.
If your organization is new to collaboration, it can be hard to know where to start, but the best thing to do is smart small and with a specific goal in mind. Share frequently requested documents, such as employee handbooks or policies, in an easy-to-find spot, circulate the links, and invite comments. Or host discussion threads with experts on topics that are relevant to people at your organization. If you'd like to add collaboration to your formal learning initiatives, your on-boarding training is a great candidate - create a group with discussions to let new hires follow up with their questions, and post new information like vacation policies - generally offer a central space for new hires to get a feel for how virtually and in person collaboration can help them ramp faster to start connecting from the start.
Finally, be ready to measure the success of collaboration by taking some benchmark measurements. Just as with formal learning, the goal of collaboration and informal learning is to affect behavior change. Determine where you'd like to see changes (new hire retention, faster sales cycles, fewer support cases, increased engagement) and take a measurement of where you stand now. After you've rolled out some collaborative initiatives and given them time to take hold, check those numbers again to see if you've moved the needle. Grow, adapt, and change course as necessary.
Introducing collaboration to your organization can transform your workforce, and can be done incrementally to make it fit your business. To learn more, watch our webinar.