Learning does not happen in Isolation (Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Human Learning, Jarvis P., 2006 pg. 122), quite in contrast, cognitive learning happens at all times and especially in social, interactive environments. Here at LearnWorlds, we understand the need for a social online learning experience. Instead of creating a traditional learning management system, LearnWorlds was created to be an online social learning management system.
Going further away from the obsolete model of old-fashioned courses, where an instructor might throw videos and pdfs at a student waiting to see what sticks. No wonder nothing does, and no knowledge is being absorbed. This is not how learning works, this is certainly not how we learn and grow our skill-set in our everyday lives.
An Ecology of Learning
Premium quality education comes from an environment that nurtures interaction. Where instructors such as you are nurturing a community and students learn through multi-layered networking and interactivity.
Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but rather within an interconnected social network. Learners browse the courses in a non-linear order and are able to discuss issues, ideas, suggest and share their experiences with each other. The conversation can take place within a traditional online course or through group discussions and personal messages. Instructors can intervene to direct, enrich or moderate a discussion as needed.
While most online courses offer a one to many approach, LearnWorlds’ educational system supports both one to many and one to one mentoring. Each student has specific learning objectives and style. Some might require a special approach, personal coaching or even their own custom private course, created for their own specific learning objectives.
Interactive Learning in a Knowledge Economy
Our modern society is quickly moving towards a knowledge economy, where intangible assets such as knowledge and information are valued much higher than tangible goods. Which is also the reason of why elearning is a growing multi-billion dollar industry with online courses being in such a high-demand and the rise of edupreneurs.
Elearning is a convenient way for a busy society to earn knowledge. Whether you teach yoga or dancing to busy professionals that prefer studying at home instead of commuting or corporate training professionals earning their CPE credits after work, it is an important part of our society. Learning has been disconnected by the limitations of the physical world.
However, the missing part of an online knowledge economy is the crucial element of interactive learning. Interaction makes learning more effective. A learner interactive with the material and his/her peers or instructors will earn more from courses. Active learning allows the learners to keep learning and avoids the pitfalls of “sleeping in the class” or learning mechanically, increasing the value of education (or training).
Interactive learning offers many benefits and benefits both the learners and their instructors. Lessons become less boring, satisfaction with the courses rises, retention of knowledge goes through the roof and understanding of the topic increases.
Instructor Interactions and Direct Communication
Online courses are asynchronous in nature, they do not follow the live interaction and instant feedback of in-person classes. But still, as social creatures, we need to communicate, ask questions, delve deeper into problems and learn by interacting with our peers and instructors.
To solve this issue, students can interact with instructors, as well as with each other, in private messages, improving the teaching with a personal touch. Some students will need more or less support in their educational journey and you can be their guide.
Going further, a LearnWorlds online school also features social groups. Students of a course are automatically included in the course’s group conversation that can be found in the social page of their account. Group conversations are great to discuss subjects relevant to the material, network, meet and greet each other or share their own experiences and knowledge, while adding value with user generated content.
Additionally, each admin, instructor or student has the ability to create their own groups and invite others to join. Whether you want to have a closed conversation with your instructors inside the platform or students decide to create interest groups within the school’s social environment, the possibilities are endless.
Built-in Community Inside Every School
One step ahead of the curve, communities add more value to an online academy. For educators and teachers, community adds a layer of much needed social learning, while for digital entrepreneurs, community is a lead nurturing paradise.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or educator, creating a membership site or offering online courses, a vibrant community will add value to your school. Imagine what you could do by offering a small facebook-like social network within your school.
The integrated social network supports interactions with both the whole community and specific individuals and groups. The learner is able to discuss issues, ideas, suggestions, and share experiences and advices within a community of practice. The messages that can be shared are adapted to the specific topic of each LearnWorld through the use of learning objects.
An example from a Computer Science Academy:
A student may share small snippets of code in order to ask for help on solving a bug or to showcase a new coding technique). Private communities can be created ad hoc, e.g. for student projects, for a specific interest group or for collaboration with the trainers. The social network is not an isolated “trendy” service, instead it is fully interconnected with the learning content: a discussion may arise from within the e-book or the instructional video.
Each of your users will have access to value-added features.
All users have their own public profile that showcases their activity, their contribution to the community, their achievements, the courses they are following and can include a picture, social media links and some information about them.
The profile is both a mirror and a networking hub that motivates learners to achieve more, to understand, but also to connect with their instructors, to compare their progress against that of their peers and to reach out to them.
Each student profile will be visible and searchable to others, enabling them to connect, network and communicate. How best to connect without a way to find your other classmates, visit their profile and follow their social posts, comments and conversations? Whether you are looking to create a community to network or include a healthy social discussion to your academy, both can be achieved through LearnWorlds.
Following each other will also enrich the students’ newsfeed. Posts, updates, comments, images and polls shared and answered by their friends and network will become a reason to come back for more.
Whether this is a closed corporate training group or an interests group created by similarly minded professionals or a group sharing tips and advice with each other, it will be a valuable addition to your educational offering.
Students will be able to interact and learn from each other, grow a community around your academy and discuss the material provided at your courses. It will also give you the opportunity to collect feedback, upsell and do a market research survey for what your students are looking to buy.
Gamification badges offered within LearnWorlds are focused on increasing the social actions of the students, making them more active and improving the community as a whole. Small acts of gratification will raise your community’s engagement and keep students active and happy to be a part of it.
Today, new knowledge is constantly being created and both you and your students will need to keep up. By adding RSS feeds of popular blogs and resources, you can keep your students coming back to read the latest news in your industry, thus offering education that can withstand the sands of time.
Getting Started with a Free Trial of LearnWorlds
Advantages of Social Learning to Edupreneurs
Community, engagement and interactivity might sound great, but what would be the benefit to you?
Entrepreneurs in the elearning sector, educators and trainers alike can reap multiple benefits by including social components in their schools.
1Satisfied Learners to Word of Mouth Marketing
Student satisfaction plays a huge role in customer retention and positive testimonials. Keeping your learners happy will lower the chance of asking for their money back, give bad reviews or leaving your community altogether while increasing the likelihood of suggesting your courses to their friends, family and coworkers.
This will result in one of the most valuable course selling methods available, word of mouth marketing. Positive reviews from your students to their own network is the best way to create a virality effect and greatly increase your sales.
Learners interacting with each other is a form of user generated content. It increases the content of your course and the value proposition you are offering. Your students will reap more benefits, learn more and value your course even more.
Online academies with more users can benefit from a vibrant community to price their courses higher just because of a great community and if you are offering membership options, keeping satisfied users for more benefiting by the content other share means more income for you.
LearnWorlds provides integrated social features as part of the platform. You don’t need a different wordpress plugins to setup your school, courses and the community. It is all build under the same platform, making it easier to control and hassle-free.
4Marketing and Selling
Looking to differentiate from your competitors?
Social learning will increase the quality of services you will be offering to your learners, whether individuals, professionals or corporate. It is a great way to enrich your offering, value of your course and including it in your marketing messages will give you an advantage over competing trainers.
Giving more under the same roof and keeping your students closer to you instead of splitting them into Facebook Groups, Slack chats and other plugins or external services will save you time, energy and money!
How the Community Works in LearnWorlds
Carla, has just bought your newly created online course in which Joey is an instructor. Reading through the material and watching the videos, she decides to join the conversation. Each course unit gives her 3 tabs to navigate: Path (where your course content is), Learners (her classmates), Discuss (the social commenting tab).
1She then comments to the video.
2Joey, the instructor sees the new comment on his Dashboard.
3Going from the admin panel’s Settings → Community option you can moderate or reply to the students’ comments.
The conversation can be joined by other Learners, Carla’s classmates that also bought and are attending the course. And that’s an opportunity to connect with them.
She can look her classmate’s in the Course’s “Learners” tab and from there go to their profile to follow them and send private messages.
However, based on Carla’s questions, Joey realises that she might need personal attendance. And he opens a one-to-one chat with her using the inbox communication.
And while Joey offers a more personal tutoring to Carla, she decides to also join the class’ group chat. Through her profile, she can see what her other classmates are discussing and sharing through the course’s chat or even create her own group chat with others!
Manage and Control your Community
Keeping an eye to your community is always a good idea. Social interactions and comments are a great chance to get feedback, understand your students better and offer in-time solutions to their problems or personalised training.
And when Odin … eh YOU, need to intervene in your students’ affair to delete a post or join the conversation, you will know!
Pro Tip: Add a community zone in the after-login page or a landing page to show-off your vibrant community 😉
Whether you need to enable or disable the community and students’ communication between them, all you need to do is visit the “App Configuration” panel. Disabling the students’ directory and communication will only allow students to communicate with instructors and admins, for better control of your school.
Launching a Social Learning Academy through your own website
Would you like to start selling online courses through a social learning platform?
All you need is to create a free trial account with LearnWorlds. Click here to Get Started, give a name to your school (don’t worry, you can always change your school’s name) and your email.
Do you have any questions?
Send us a message through our contact page 🙂
Panos Siozos is the CEO and Co-Founder of LearnWorlds. He holds a PhD in Educational Technology and has worked extensively as a computer science educator, software engineer, IT manager and researcher in many EU funded research projects. Before following the startup route, he was working in the European Parliament as a policy adviser for research and innovation.