Informal Learning Activities To Promote Peer-Based Collaboration
A few years ago, open offices and flat hierarchy were all the rage. But that’s no longer the norm due to the global pandemic and corporate restructuring. Multiple distractions and lack of leadership are also notable problems. In the same way, formal learning isn’t the panacea of learning. Sometimes, you need to tap into the very human need to work together and learn by doing. Even corporate eLearning courses can benefit from collaborative tasks and “non-academic” forms of learning. Fortunately, technology makes this much easier to do. Here are 6 informal learning activities to add to your online training strategy.
6 Inspired Peer-Based Collab Ideas
1. Social Media Study Group
Peer pressure affects adults too – just in a different way from kids and teens. In high school and college, most people sign up for courses just because your friends are in them. This is a tool you can restructure for corporate eLearning. Find out which social media platforms are most popular among your corporate learners and use them to enhance peer-based collaboration. Form a virtual study group on that platform. Corporate learners can exchange ideas related to their subject of study.
Social media study groups can be used to seed reference online training materials, like an interesting news article or a related YouTube video. The ambiance should be light and casual. It shouldn’t feel like “school” invaded “leisure time.” The secret is to mimic everyday social interactions so that corporate learners immerse themselves in the online training content and group dialogue.
2. Online Discussions
Online discussions must be included in your informal learning activities. Unfortunately, group debates have a tendency to spiral. Irrelevant topics may find their way in, as well as non-employees. As much as the corporate eLearning group is informal, it’s still a training set up, so moderation is key. The number of online moderators will depend on how busy the corporate eLearning group is.
Ideally, the online moderator should be active so that group members recognize them and respect their authority. Online moderators ensure the group stays on topic. They’re also primarily responsible for seeding course-related content and shaping the online discussion. If corporate learners are missing the point, they can steer things back in the right direction.
3. Gamified Training Checklists
Social media is a popular choice for promoting peer-based collaboration because of their immediacy and loose structure. But they’re not for everyone. Some corporate learners prefer to chart their own paths than follow the crowd. For these employees, you can make an online training activity list. It should include social tasks that can be done in their own time.
For example, encourage them to have a one-on-one debate with a classmate or publish an article on their chosen medium, whether it’s a Twitter thread or a Snapchat story. As they finish each task, they can cross it off the list. Program the online training course so that ticking off an item sends out a notification. This invites their online instructor to verify and award grades or points to gamify the online training experience and increase motivation. For example, corporate learners may earn 5 points for joining the social media group and posting a helpful online training resource link.
4. Live eLearning Feedback Sessions
Another phenomenon with social media groups or online discussions is “lurkers.” They’re consistently present but they never actually speak/type. In this setting, it can be difficult to gauge their silence or ensure they are benefitting. Plus, if they’re not participating, then they’re not collaborating. You could draw out these wallflowers by targeting them in a benign way. Send them an online survey to gather peer-based collaboration eLearning feedback, or have the online moderator ask them a specific issue by name. They shouldn’t feel attacked. Context matters.
For example, lure in the unspeaking accountant by directly asking them a finance question. Remote staffers are able to get involved and boost their confidence because it reminds them they have something to offer. You can also host live events where everyone needs to participate and share their opinions. In fact, you may want to host multiple online sessions with smaller group sizes to encourage open dialogue.
5. Impromptu Online Group Collaboration Projects Using Project Management Platforms
Invite corporate learners to break off into teams and create a presentation or host their own events. They can use a Project Management platform and video conferencing tools to work together and share ideas. The key is to make the online training experience more impromptu and casual so that corporate learners can take the lead. For example, they’re able to choose their own topic and assign tasks within the group or decide how they’re going to convey the information for the benefit of their peers. Such as producing a podcast or video and uploading it to the corporate learner-hosted library.
6. Learner-Led Troubleshooting Sessions
Use the live event format to host informal brainstorming and troubleshooting sessions. For example, propose a problem and encourage corporate learners to use the available online training resources to come to a solution. They’re able to apply their skills and past experiences to make suggestions and discuss the pros/cons for each resolution. They can also explore new perspectives and expand their lateral thinking skills. Once again, it’s best to appoint a team leader or online moderator to keep things on track and prevent conflicts. Try to use real-world problems or case studies so that corporate learners can relate and truly immerse themselves in the situation.
Informal learning activities are just as important as formal education, especially in adult learning. And they work wonders when it comes to enhancing peer-based collaboration. Make them light and fun, but also keep them targeted and functional. Create social media threads and groups for informal online discussions, but keep them constructive and well moderated. Human curation is essential. Develop a to-do list and a platform where corporate learners can pursue individual tasks and check them off. Verify each of these informal learning activities individually. Draw out “shy” corporate learners with online surveys and eLearning feedback modules. These 6 tips can help you create a sense of immersion and foster a sense of community even if your corporate learners are scattered across the globe.
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