Learning communities are a great way to encourage informal learning throughout your organization. By creating an online space for employees to continue discussion and support outside of the classroom, your learning community becomes an integral part of your training strategy.
In his webinar with Mimeo, Dan Jones offers 4 simple ways to start your learning community:
1. Set Up a Collaboration Website
Have a central location for your members to connect with the community. It can be simple on your company intranet, like Sharepoint, or host your own website using a template from WordPress or SquareSpace.
Be sure to include crucial information on the website, including:
- Upcoming Activities
- Contact info for the community leaders
- Membership list
- Blog or discussion forum
- Content library
2. Claim Social Media Handles
Next, make sure your social media-inclined members have a place to take the discussion online. Claim social media handles that are similar to your community name, and consider setting up official hashtags for your followers to use so that you can aggregate conversations.
Dan suggests setting up handles on external social media such as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
If your population is already active on internal systems (or if you are prohibited by company policy from starting public social media handles), you can also make the most of Yammer, Slack, Salesforce Chatter, or whatever system your organization uses.
3. Set Up a Dedicated Email Address
Dan recommends setting up an email address for the community so you have a designated communication channel for questions about the community. Direct any questions to this account, and use it for sending out calendar invites.
A bonus for having a dedicated email address: if you recruit others to help manage the community, you can easily add them to this email account.
4. Set Up Online Groups
Finally, Dan recommends supplementing your collaboration website with online groups or forums. This allows your community members to engage with each other and share files, pictures, and links for free. By leveraging free tools like Facebook or LinkedIn groups, you can create rich conversation without requiring IT to create a custom forum for your community.