Managers responsible for workplace learning and development may have noted an increasing buzz around the potential of using web technologies for corporate social learning.
Social tools enable increased employee interaction and collaboration, which provides a mechanism for retaining and accelerating knowledge within workplace walls.
As well as enabling companies to create advantage through developing agility and knowledge retention, social learning can also be used to generate new revenue streams. Web portals can be developed for specific market sectors, acting as ‘information hubs’ with news articles and links to further resources.
These portal sites can quickly become a social network in their own right, with industry peers able to view and share comments on news items. The platform is also compatible with mobile browsers, making it possible to access learning on the move.
Taken a stage further, users interested in receiving in-depth learning about a specific topic can search for training courses using a learning management system. Naturally, specialist content providers or training companies will be interested in this model as a means of commercialising their course content.
e-Portfolios are an essential component of a social learning plan. Learners can use an e-portfolio as a way to store and share their work online, developing a body of evidence for course-based projects. Over time, the e-portfolio creates an online archive of a person’s lifetime learning. Mahara is an example of an open source e-portfolio technology platform that can form part of a virtual learning framework (which also includes a learning management system).
In summary, a web based information portal or social networking platform integrated with an e-portfolio enables students to socially interact to create a dynamic collection of online folders, document files, multimedia, website links, secure or personal information (e.g. resumes) and uploaded files of any type.