5 Ways to Make your eLearning Social



As humans, there is no denying that we are social beings. A core part of our survival is to cooperate with each other (DeMichele, 2016). Cooperation is so important that our bodies are actually hardwired to reward us with feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine when we do things together (DeMichele, 2016). 

  • Think about when you accomplish something significant as a team—the high fives, group victory dances and smiling faces around you makes you feel pretty good right? 
  • What about when something exciting happens in your life? Do you feel tempted to message or call someone to tell them the news? 
  • How about your birthday or New Year's Eve? Do you make an effort to share these celebrations with others? 
  • The success of social media is another great example of how we love to connect and share things with others. Think about when a friend comments something nice on one of your photos or posts—feels good doesn’t it?
For most of us, we want to share life and experiences with others by our side. We do not wish for a life without others in it.

Do not get us wrong, as humans we do not want to be social all of the time—we all need our alone time to recharge. What is important to humans is that we incorporate ‘social activities’ into our lives. Becoming disconnected from other humans for long periods of time can be isolating, leading to a weaker immune system, compromised heart health, increased risk for dementia, greater risk of depression and we hate to say it but even an earlier death (Skopec, 2017).

We were made to connect, we love doing it and our survival as a species depends on it. Whilst the human race has its disagreements, if aliens were to attack, we are sure that we would unite to fight for our race (#teamhumans).

The question is:

If humans are naturally social, how can we incorporate elements of social learning into our learning solutions?


Social learning has been around for a while. All you need to do is Google ‘social learning’ and you will be presented with thousands of websites, articles, videos and quotes. If you are interested in learning more about social learning in general, give the term a Google!

Our intent for this blog is to share how social learning can be incorporated into eLearning solutions specifically. Our team has seen some great examples of social learning over the years and we thought that it was time to share our favourite solutions and examples with you, in the hope that it will add value to your projects.

Here are our current top 5:

1. Encourage your Learner to Learn from the People Around Them 


As humans, we learn most of our knowledge from others. 

  • How did you learn to ride a bike? 
  • How did you learn to write?
  • How did you learn to cook? 
  • How did you learn to do your job?
For most of us, we learnt the above things from others, whether it was a parent, family member, colleague or friend.

When our team designs a learning solution we consider how the learner could be supported by other people in their environment. 

An example is an induction project that our team worked on. We wanted to support inductees to obtain the information that they needed, when they needed it. We had a collection of information that we included in the learning solution but we also appreciated that inductees could learn a lot from the people around them—such as their supervisor, work colleagues or other inductees. We therefore encouraged inductees to meet up with these key people outside of the online learning environment and learn from them (social learning in its purest form).

View an example of this in action below. 
Belvista Studios eLearning example.

2. Replicate a Messaging Interaction

Messaging is what most of us do every day. Whether it is through text message, Facebook Messenger or Skype (the list goes on). 

From personal experience, our team can vouch that messaging is a great way to connect with others. Whether it is for emotional support, sharing information or of course to learn. Our team works remotely, so Skype messaging is our main form of communication—for us this method of social communication is really effective.

This led us to think about how such a core component of our social and work lives could be replicated through an eLearning solution. To our delight, over time we have seen this in action and we think it has great potential (we are experimenting with it now).

If it is not realistic for each learner to learn from a specific person one-on-one, how can you replicate a messaging interaction with this person to teach them what they need to know?

Photo by Oleg Magni on Unsplash

3. Host a Discussion Forum

We increase our understanding and retention of information by discussing it with others (CoreAxis, 2017). Discussion forums provide learners with an opportunity to ask their specific questions and connect with and learn from fellow learners and subject matter experts.

There are multiple platforms for holding discussion forums such as:

  • Skype 
  • Facebook 
  • LinkedIn 
  • Whats app
  • Instagram
  • Slack
If you believe that a discussion forum will add value to your learners (especially if you think they will have questions about the learning content), encourage them to join a forum and participate in it while they are completing the eLearning.

Our team at Belvista Studios have our own discussion forum that enables instructional designers and eLearning developers to ask questions and connect with a like-minded community. We have had great success with this forum so far and this is evidence for us that forums work. If you are reading this and thinking, “TY invite”—eat your words because all you need to do is direct message us on Instagram for your invite. 

4. Incorporate Coaching

From our experience, coaching is powerful. When members of our team are learning something new, receiving coaching from each other is crucial to our success. We are very lucky at Belvista Studios because Kim, our founder, incorporates coaching into our daily interactions as a team and from this we are all on the brink of becoming superhumans 😜.

With advancements in technology, coaching does not need to be face-to-face. Coaching can be achieved through using platforms like: 

  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • Google Meetings
If you believe your learners would benefit from receiving real-time advice from a subject matter expert, incorporate it into your learning solution.

If you have a large number of learners, one-on-one coaching may not be realistic. If this is you, consider if group coaching could work. You could also ask your individual learners questions to determine if coaching will add value to them and only offer it to those who really need it.

5. Use Emojis

Most of us have come across emojis. You most likely receive at least one emoji a day, whether it is someone sharing some love with you ❤️, celebrating something 👏🏼 or expressing their emotions 😭.

Emojis enable us to communicate emotional cues, reinforce a point (Kuhlmann, 2018) and most importantly add some personality and ‘heart’ to the online communication process.

By incorporating emojis into your eLearning courses, you can replicate social messaging and bring a sense of fun and expression to your course.

So that is it! Those are our current top 5 tips for incorporating social learning into your eLearning.

We are always on the hunt for different ways to improve our eLearning through social learning. If you want to keep up to date with our findings, we recommend following us on Instagram for daily eLearning design tips and tricks. We hope that this blog added value to you and opened your mind to the possibilities of social learning.

                                                   References

CoreAxis. (2017). How to Incorporate The Power of Social Learning Theory into Your eLearning Program. Retrieved from https://coreaxis.com/how-to-incorporate-the-power-of-social-learning-theory-into-your-elearning-program/.

DeMichele, T. (2016). Humans are Hardwired to Be Social Beings. Retrieved from http://factmyth.com/factoids/humans-are-hardwired-to-be-social-beings/.

Kuhlmann, T. (2018). When to Use Emojis for E-Learning. Retrieved from https://blogs.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/when-to-use-emojis-for-e-learning/.

Skopec, C. (2017). Being Lonely Is Bad for Your Health — Here's Why. Received from https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/being-lonely-bad-health.html/.

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