What is a Collaborative Learning System?

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What is a Collaborative Learning System?

Collaborative learning is the new way to do learning and development in a way that sticks. But what's a collaborative learning system? Good question — let's see what it is and why you should consider one here.

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Most companies already incorporate collaborative learning in their workspace.

This isn’t surprising given that collaborative employees work 15% faster, with 73% achieving better results, while isolation can decrease productivity by up to 21%.

For instance, if you’ve needed someone from finance to explain the billing process to your employees instead of contacting your software’s support team, you’ve engaged in collaborative learning. While this might happen unconsciously in some companies, many hope to create this learning culture intentionally.

And they need somewhere to store this information so their subject matter experts only have to share their knowledge once.  

Enter a collaborative learning system. 

In this blog, we’ll explain a collaborative learning system, its benefits, the features you should look for, and how to choose the right one for your team. 

What is a collaborative learning system?

Collaborative learning is learning where employees share their knowledge, teaching and learning from one another at the same time. 

Collaborative learning is fast and efficient

A collaborative learning system is a tool which helps teams share their knowledge and learn new, relevant information from each other in one central place. These systems are typically available via tools or software, which makes it easy for everyone to access the same information, regardless of your work environment.

Why you need a collaborative learning system?

According to research by AdminControl;

  • 73% of digital workplaces credit collaboration tools for productivity, with 70% linking better collaboration to digital tech.

  • Collective action boosts focus, allowing 64% longer task engagement, fostering satisfaction and better performance.

1. Easier knowledge sharing

Have you ever been the go-to person on a subject in your company? Then you know that everyone always needs help at different times. And while you might be okay with helping them, covering the same topic multiple times can feel inefficient. 

But, with a collaborative learning system, you can share all your knowledge on a topic once, and anyone who needs help can easily access your expertise. 

For example, let’s say you know everything there is to know about onboarding new hires, but you’re expanding, and someone wants to know your onboarding process. Instead of explaining your process verbally, you’ll share what you know via your collaborative learning system. That person (and anyone needing help) can learn and access your process through the platform.

2. Real-time feedback

One thing that makes collaborative learning great is that everyone can ask questions, address concerns, and thank experts for sharing their insights. However, it’s not always a smooth process when done in person.

On the other hand, a collaborative learning system will let your employee share their thoughts with your internal expert in real time without disrupting the flow of work. This can ensure that the information shared between teams is always accurate, covered from multiple angles, and, let’s not forget, appreciated! 🤩

3. Promotes continuous learning

What’s better than a team with diverse skill sets? One that’s willing to share their knowledge! Most companies stop training their team members after onboarding.

And according to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2023, lack of learning and development opportunities are among the top reasons employees leave their current employers. 

However, when you create a learning culture and use a collaborative learning tool to document this knowledge, you allow your employees to continuously learn new skills or strengthen their knowledge on a topic. 

In her article, Tammy L. Davis, Chief Relationship Officer for organizations, discussed how she experienced this firsthand with her client,

“These platforms allow learners to discuss, ask questions, and share resources, creating a supportive online learning community. For example, we guided one of our technology clients to set up online discussion forums for system courses, enabling system and business users to exchange insights, clarify doubts, and collectively deepen their understanding of the subject.”
Tammy L Davis
Tammy L Davis
Chief Relationship Officer

4. Helps reinforce knowledge

Have you ever had to learn new information and forgot half of it shortly after the course was completed? Then you know what The Forgetting Curve is, which states that we forget what we learn shortly after, well, learning it. 

Your employees will likely forget what they learned even in a continuous learning environment. So, what’s the cure to The Forgetting Curve

Reinforcing that knowledge.

Tools built for collaborative learning approaches, like Whale, have quizzes or tests that help your team remember and retain the information they learned.

Quizzes reinforce knowledge

5. To analyze your knowledge base

When you rely on a traditional employee learning and development approach, you risk not having insight into how everything’s performing. Are your employees learning from your material? Who isn’t? Are there topics your employees would like to learn, but no one knows who to ask for help?

Most collaborative learning tools have built-in analytics that can give you insight into those exact questions.  

Besides those nuggets of wisdom, you’ll also see who completed each course material and quiz and how they scored. This can help you make more data-driven decisions to improve your L&D program.

Features to look for in a Collaborative Learning System 👀

While those benefits are nothing to scoff at, you’ll need a system with specific features to see them. But what features should you look for? We’ll cover a few of the top features below.

Content creation

Content creation is one of the most essential features you’d want your tool to have. You want somewhere your internal experts can easily go to and quickly share their knowledge. 

And by default, somewhere for your learners to consume this content. 

Bonus points if the tool allows them to break the information down into sections so that it’s easier to create and consume. 😉

Content creation on Whale

Reminders

Not every department in your company will experience fast-paced industry trends like Marketing. However, that doesn’t mean the information shared in the course won’t become outdated. 

Quick. 

Whether it’s the industry or internal business changes, you’ll want to ensure that the information your employees are sharing and learning is up to date.

So, you’ll need a tool that will automatically remind your subject matter experts to come back and review their material for relevancy.

Automation

Often, you’ll find that your employees need certain skills for specific reasons. And sometimes, those reasons can be tied to a timeline. 

We’ll use the employee onboarding process example from earlier. Let’s say you know that your company is expanding to multiple locations, and each new HR or OP manager will need help onboarding new hires in a way that’s consistent with your company. You can share that knowledge in your collaborative learning tool and use automation to automatically share this information when someone is added to the HR or Operations group.

These features allow you to proactively and automatically share this knowledge with anyone you add to that group and who needs it.

Automated flows on Whale

Gamification

Gamification features like quizzes and badges help increase employee engagement and encourage them to remember what they’ve learned. As we mentioned before, even when people are active in their learning process, they still need help reinforcing what they were taught, which is why these features in your tool are key. 

Analytics

Analytics in a collaborative learning system is a must. When you want insight into:

✅ Who completed the course material?

✅ Who remembered the information they consumed? 

✅ Who hasn’t started the material they requested? 

Then these features are exactly what you need. They help you see how successful your collaborative learning approach is and where you may need to make changes. 

How to choose the best system for your teams

We’ve covered some top features you’d want in a collaborative learning system, but how would you know which one’s best for you? Let’s look at some criteria to consider when searching for a solution.

Business needs

Not every tool will fit your exact business needs. 

Some collaborative learning systems are built for larger teams with hundreds of employees in each department. So they have features that strictly manage who can share, approval processes, etc. Meanwhile, other tools cater to smaller companies and teams.  

Then, you might need your software to integrate with your existing tool stack. Does your tool meet this need? Or does it offer a way to access your data from other tools? 

Write out your must-haves and nice-to-haves so you know what to compare them to when reviewing your options.

Budget

Your budget is another key criterion to consider.

  • How much do you have available to spend on learning and development?
  • Is this system something you only want to test out so you’re not allocating a large sum of your budget towards it?
  • Do you want to test the tool before investing to ensure it’s right for you?

These valid questions should be considered before moving forward with any tool.

User-friendly

And last but certainly not least, is the tool something your employees would actually use? Does it require a steep learning curve to get started? When trying out a new tool, the last thing you want is for it to be so complicated that everyone, from your experts to your learners, avoids using it. 

While in-person teams may be fine without using it, it can become more problematic for hybrid and remote teams who need a central tool to share their knowledge with coworkers in different time zones (or countries). So, you want to make sure your tool is user-friendly for everyone who uses it.

Bottom line?

According to Gallup, employee engagement is tied to L&D and can directly impact profitability by up to 21%, productivity, and employee turnover. So, it’s worth using everything at your disposal to maximize the potential of your collaborative learning initiatives. 

If you’re ready to see how a collaborative learning system can enhance your learning culture, sign up for Whale’s forever-free plan today.

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