Social Learning Community
Social learning is the sharing of information and knowledge among peers via interactive discussions and computer-based methods. Today, it is recognised as one of the fastest growing segments of the training and education space. Its growth is being propelled by a variety of popular technologies and applications, demand for greater individual control over learning experiences, and the training profession’s eagerness to improve learning.
In line with the approach of this learning method, the Women Power Code Social Learning Community aims at making digital subjects more attractive for women, by creating a virtual space where they can consult peers to gain information, discuss mutual interests and concerns about learning these topics. In the medium and long-term, the objective is to enable women to explore and share solutions to common professional dilemmas through action research, by developing resources, and/or implementing new instructional strategies. Additionally, it aims at building cooperation for creativity and innovation development among all the targeted stakeholders, including VET providers, IT companies, Universities, Women Associations etc. from the IT field.
More and more aware of the benefits of social learning in the workplace, companies are also incorporating social learning into their training programs, to ensure that knowledge can be shared easily and efficiently. From this perspective, the Women Power Code Social Learning Community offers a competitive advantage to those women who are part of the community, as they become aware and familiar with these online collaboration tools and are part of a support network where they discuss the challenges they encounter in their professions with other peers. Moreover, they will develop the practical knowledge to be able to introduce this social learning method to their potential employer, which represent a highly valued skill.
Description of the online tool
The Women Power Code Social Learning Community (SLC) is set up as a complementary learning tool to the online training developed by the project consortium. To this end, the SLC was integrated into the same cloud-based learning management system as the online training, called Moodle. Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments. This tool was selected because it allows to create in the same online platform a set of learner-centric tools and a collaborative learning environment that is easy to use and empowers learning.
The Women Power Code Social Learning Community is created using the forum activity provided by the Moodle platform and it allows learners (and teachers) to exchange ideas by posting comments as part of a 'thread'. Learners can both comment on an existing thread or they and start a new thread of discussion depending on their interests. Files such as images and media can also be included in forum posts to increase the repository of learning resources.
Users dispose of a series of settings that they can use to personalise their use of the forum activity, including display options, replying to discussions options, subscribing to forum discussions or track read and unread forum posts.
The access to the Women Power Code Social Learning Community is made through the https://academy.womenpowercode.eu/ platform, where users need to register. Once they create a profile, they are automatically registered to the SLC and can start interacting with other users.
Exploitation, transfer and sustainability
To ensure a successful uptake and transfer of the Women Power Code Social Learning Community and its potential results, Digital Leadership Institute, as leading organisation of this activity, in close collaboration with NERDA and all the other project partners, proposes the following activities to encourage individual end-users to adopt and/or apply the results of the SLC, but also other relevant stakeholders at local, regional, national or European levels:
- To ensure a wide participation of users to the Women Power Code Social Learning Community the SLC was set-up to cover seven European languages (English, French, Italian, Dutch, Romanian, Bulgarian and Slovenian). For each language, one SLC was created to make sure those users who only speak their native language are not being excluded and are more closely linked to the reality of their local/national job market. Users can be part of one or more language groups, so that information can also be transferred internationally.
- Each partner will be responsible to follow and animate the SLC in their native language, to ensure the dynamics of the conversations, and that users are supported in receiving the correct information. Partners will also have share information that are relevant for all the language groups, to be cross-posted and so to provide more value to the community.
- Partners commit to manage the SLC in the different languages at least one year after the project ends. They will identify the community members which are the most active and appoint them as Ambassadors, recognising their contribution to the learning community. This will contribute to a higher engagement of community members and also to the sustainability of the project results beyond the project’s lifetime.
- Partners commit to communicate regularly not only within the SLC platform, but also on the other communication channels of the project, to ensure a wide promotion and visibility of the SLC (in line with the communication strategy outlined below).
- The potential for exploitation, transfer and sustainability is enhanced also through the involvement of companies in the IT field, IT companies, university, VET providers, ECVET national authorities or other relevant stakeholder which will receive the information about the Women Power Code Social Learning Community and will be invited by project partners to directly contribute on the online platform.
To provide for a successful transfer of results towards all stakeholders groups mentioned above, the project team has identified a series of best practices in social learning that can be integrated in the programs of the interested organisations:
- Encourage collaboration. The key to social learning is learning through collaboration with colleagues. Among the most beneficial are conversations that feature story telling and problem solving of workplace challenges.
- Provide the right tools. In an e-Learning context, learners need tools that allow them to socially and collaboratively connect with one another when navigating through e-Learning courses and online training. Make sure that the tools put in place are easily available and user friendly, where users can ask questions and give feedback in real time, creating a truly collaborative social learning environment.
- Measure true success. It’s helpful to know how people are utilising social learning opportunities, but measuring that activity is limited in value. Organisations should also identify success criteria such as a trackable performance metric for a sales team. Also, process automation can yield measurable business results.
- Stress formal learning. A foundation of formal learning must be the basis of every social learning network. Learners start with a foundation of knowledge, and build around it via informal learning methods.
Communication elements and strategy
To coordinate the dissemination of project results, particularly the Women Power Code Social Learning Community, project partners will use the following elements that will be integrated into the communication strategy of the project:
- A webpage dedicated to the SLC will be created on the Women Power Code webpage that partners can refer to when communicating about it;
- Partners will regularly post on the communication channels of the project and their own to include relevant and engaging information on social learning, for example: benefits of social learning, best practices for adopting organisations, learning challenges, benefits of being a SLC ambassador etc. Where possible, the following hashtag will be used #WPCSocialLearningCommunity to make it easier for users to identify posts containing information about the SLC.
- As mentioned in the section above, partners will ensure the communication on the SLC platform itself, by contributing on discussion threads. Partners will starting new threads as well on topics such as: how to use the SLC, what are the benefits, learning resources, information on new skills etc.