Collaborative Studying Atmosphere: four Stress-Free Steps
4 steps to building a collaborative learning environment
In our eBook How Collaborative Learning Raises Engagement Rates to Over 90%, we cover how useful collaborative learning can be for companies moving to remote working environments. But how exactly can you create the right collaborative learning environment to involve each of your teams? And who exactly has to be involved? Is this a project only for your L&D team, your instructional designers, or other in-house trainers? And how should you involve stakeholders in this process?
That may sound difficult, but we’re here to make it easy.
How collaborative learning increases engagement rates to over 90%
From benefits to proven strategies, this guide has everything you need to start a successful collaborative learning program for your remote workers!
1. Make use of decentralized learning
In traditional centralized learning, training takes place at a single point: instructors teach and staff learn. But now many companies are moving to a more decentralized approach, making this system obsolete. More and more employees are working remotely and asynchronously, and they need to break the learning into small chunks that fit into their daily work schedule, no matter where in the world they are.
The first step in decentralizing learning is to move to online courses that can be taken in microsessions throughout the week. This should start with your L&D team, but it also requires encouragement and support from management and senior management. This is an integral part of what remote learning looks like today, be it employee onboarding or sales empowerment training.
But decentralized learning is more than just switching to Microsessions: In a decentralized, collaborative learning environment, every team member participates in the learning process. They can determine their learning needs, request courses, provide feedback on existing courses, and create courses themselves. We call this a bottom-up approach.
In traditional learning, managers or a company’s learning and development department will make educated guesses about employee knowledge gaps and either create or outsource courses to address those gaps. Courses are expensive to create and can take months to create. Knowledge flows down without people receiving it. In short, learning is a one-way street with little scope for engagement.
With a bottom-up democratic approach to learning, employees use collaborative learning tools to make inquiries about learning opportunities. Anyone can vote on which courses are most useful, and anyone can offer to teach a course. Courses can be created and updated much faster, which helps the company keep its employees updated on key skills. This is an essential characteristic of collaborative learning environments.
Decentralized learning democratizes knowledge and lets everyone share in the benefits of information. Perhaps most importantly, decentralized learning is more agile and adaptable than old school centralized learning systems and helps create the right learning community.
According to our study, among companies using 360Learning, 85% of courses are created by non-L&D members. When the process is democratized, everyone is both responsible for their own learning and empowered to take control of their goals. While L&D teams play a key role in this process, they can focus on the things that matter most, such as:
2. Emphasize self-directed learning
The second key element of a great collaborative learning environment? A workplace culture that emphasizes self-directed learning.
Nobody knows their own learning needs like your employees. When you enable self-directed learning, you support the growth of your employees while maximizing the benefits for your company. Self-directed learning gives your team the greatest autonomy and flexibility: They can complete courses on their own schedule and work independently towards their goals.
They can adapt courses to other activities as they are empowered to manage their own responsibilities. This is more than just cooperative learning in which the learners work side by side: instead, the learners are genuinely independent.
But despite the name, self-directed learning is not a one-off activity. For self-directed learning to be effective, the entire company must be on board. Team managers and the L&D department work together to act as moderators, helping set learning goals, suggesting courses, facilitating the flow of learning, and creating a schedule. Employees recognize their own learning needs, managers encourage learning in the company and also set a good example by sharing their own learning goals.
This self-directed approach is what learners themselves want: According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, 74% of learners want the freedom to take courses at their own pace. At the same time, 75% say they would take a course recommended by their manager. Providing learning experiences that match these preferences is an important part of building a collaborative learning environment.
Here is an example of self-directed learning in practice: Rather than launching an in-house retraining initiative for 1,000 engineers, a company could encourage each employee to set their own learning goals based on their specific development aspirations and priorities.
3. Promotion of knowledge exchange
The next hassle-free step in creating a collaborative learning environment may sound obvious, but it’s still difficult for many companies. We are talking about promoting the exchange of knowledge between subject matter experts.
When you hire a talented team, your people are your greatest resource. They have the skills, the intelligence and the expertise to make your business a success – after all, that’s why you hired them. By promoting the exchange of knowledge within your company, you can use this resource and free up your subject matter experts.
Learning from top to bottom also carries the risk of creating information silos. In this scenario, sales teams are only informed of sales goals and marketing departments have no insight into product development. Everyone works on their own niche without lifting their heads and seeing where the company is going.
In a collaborative learning environment, employees can teach each other their work and gain valuable insights into other departments, which helps them stay focused on the global strategy and encourage collaboration between teams, even when working remotely. Employees are invested more in the company as a whole, and being part of a learning community and sharing knowledge leads to higher employee satisfaction.
Another valuable benefit of promoting knowledge sharing within your Company? You can reduce the risk of brain drainage.
In a top-down environment, employees gather institutional knowledge – a customer’s likes and dislikes, the specifics of a technical process – and use that knowledge to do their job well. But when they leave, they are accompanied by all of this valuable information. When a company encourages knowledge sharing, institutional information can be shared and accessed even after an employee has changed, contributing to future-proof learning against staff movements.
4. Choosing the right learning tools for collaborative learning environments
The last step in the process? Find the right learning tool to help your teams.
To create an effective collaborative learning environment, your most important tool is the right collaborative learning platform. With the 360Learning Collaborative Learning Platform, companies can easily and inexpensively create courses that are tailored to the needs of their employees and answer the most important questions.
Collaborative learning platforms offer several decisive advantages over conventional learning management platforms and learning experience platforms. For one thing, they make course creation faster, easier, and cheaper because courses are created by staff on demand. They also make it a lot easier to keep course material current and relevant by using peer feedback and continuous improvement to identify out-of-date information and fix those bugs.
L&D departments no longer have to waste time creating and sourcing learning content – tasks that take up 29% of an L&D team’s time. Instead, they become learning guides and have more time to meet with key stakeholders, facilitate the flow of learning, and develop strategies.
Since courses are created in-house on our collaborative learning platform, they are specifically tailored to the needs of your company and your team. Any competence gaps in the company can be rectified immediately and outdated courses can be identified and corrected quickly. This helps your company stay competitive and respond to rapid market changes.
Finally, by using our collaborative learning platform, you can focus on the training ROI. Traditionally, the success of a company’s learning initiative is measured in terms of course completions or learning minutes per month. This gives a good idea of how much coursework is being done, but it doesn’t tell us how learning actually benefits the company. Collaborative learning platforms are tailored to your company’s own needs and skills gaps. As team members make progress, you can measure improvements in their results and measure the overall success of each learning initiative.
Creating the right environment for collaborative learning doesn’t have to be stressful. With these 4 steps you can give your teams all the elements they need to grow and succeed. Even better, you can avoid some of the common barriers associated with traditional approaches to learning. Let’s examine these obstacles in more detail.
Are you looking for inside secrets to change attitudes towards online training and actively involve employees in the process? Download the eBook on How Collaborative Learning Raises Engagement Rates to Over 90% to learn how the collaborative approach breaks down barriers and maximizes your company’s L&D potential. Also, take the webinar to learn how collaborative learning can help you achieve over 90% course completion.
360Learning is the learning platform that combines collaborative tools with the power of an LMS. We empower L&D teams to drive culture and growth through collaborative learning.