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Fostering Online Communities for Employee Learning

Posted by Lynn Schroeder on Aug 3, 2016, 8:00:00 AM

Topics: Adult Learning Success

Setting up an online community where your employees can collaborate on topics related to workplace learning is an important move for your organization.

Here are some of the key things you can do to create a virtual atmosphere of encouragement and learning.

Nothing is as important as having a supportive environment when it comes to balancing a career with new knowledge. One of the best things a manager can do is make everyday learning a part of a company’s culture by offering the right channels for collaboration.

It can be difficult to get every member of your organization in a room to discuss how and what they’re learning. How can you make support accessible to employees in every department?

Online communities are the answer. Your employees already spend time engaging in online communities regarding everything from their personal lives to their professional development. You should use the power of online communities to create an ongoing conversation about learning within your organization.

A big value of a virtual setting is that it can connect people in every department with ease. An online community is particularly useful if you are part of a national or global organization that has a workforce scattered throughout many cities.

Some helpful tips for setting up and maintaining an online community for people within your organization:

Choose a Platform

You want to make sure every employee is on the same page when it comes to communication. If you leave it up to employees to communicate on their own, they’ll use a mix of different platforms. This won’t work because it will create social pockets that only include certain employees. Uniformity is important when it comes to building a solid online community.

The good news is that there are a number of useful platforms out there that offer innovative tools for easily sharing thoughts, opinions, experiences and documents. Take some time to research various user programs and messaging platforms that are appropriate for work-based communication and collaboration. 

Invite Former Students to Participate

Some of the best encouragement and advice often comes from employees with experience at balancing work and learning. Invite employees who’ve completed educational or training programs to interact with coworkers online and provide support and advice. Encourage experienced learners to provide helpful tips and advice for succeeding in various academic programs. The experienced learners can also share how the education they received has helped them succeed in their job roles.

Encourage Mentoring

Go one step further than simply inviting former students to participate in conversations. Set up a virtual mentoring program tohelp people gain insights and encouragement from more experienced employees.

Make Resources Available Online

If you’ve brought training courses to your company recently, you can keep the momentum going by making the coursework available to employees in a virtual space. Post lessons and notes from the training sessions to ensure that employees can get a refresher course whenever necessary. The great part about making these materials available virtually is that they can also be used by newer employees for months or years after the in-person training is over.

Celebrate Success

Does your company have an online newsletter or virtual homepage that all employees see when they sign in every morning? Use this space to make announcements about the learning accomplishments of employees enrolled in programs for workplace learning. Milestones like completing degrees or attaining certifications should be posted for all to see. This is a great way to foster a culture of learning at your organization. There is a good chance that employees will be inspired to continue learning if they see that many of their colleagues have already made the commitment.