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“There is nothing new under the sun”, as the oft-repeated saying goes. But while there is certainly some truth to this I observe new and innovative ideas around me each day at SAP, as my colleagues develop ways to improve upon the status quo. One example that is generating a lot of excitement is the new era of social learning: using social collaboration via social media to learn with and from others. I find this to be an exciting departure from more formal methods of learning.

The notion of learners learning from each other is nothing new; in fact, the first theories of social learning (most widely established by Albert Bandura) have been around for over 50 years. Social learning is not technology, but as with many things, technology can amplify, improve, and expedite a process - as in the case with learning.

According to learning researchers, collaboration is the most important characteristic of social learning. Social learning incorporates the view that while instructors help to facilitate group interactions, students can steer the course and decide what they need to learn to gain a better understanding.  To take this thought further, what better way to collaborate with fellow learners, and allow subject matter experts to facilitate and nurture learning, than to employ social media tools? It’s a rich environment of involvement and creation that can motivate learners to carry on that collaboration in real-world situations. 

According to renowned social learning expert Marcia Conner in a compelling article written for Fast Company, social learning is not just the technology of social media, though it does make use of it. It is also more than just expressing your opinion with opt-in friends. The real shift is in the corporate culture, which encourages ongoing knowledge transfer through social media tools and connects people in ways that make learning more enjoyable.

This is the idea behind the many new social features in the upcoming release of SAP Learning Hub, a complete, cloud-based learning experience for customers and partners from SAP Education. By incorporating SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Jam capabilities, learners will soon be able to have ‘jam sessions’ to foster collaboration and idea generation. In addition, users can engage in a MOOC-style social learning environment led by instructors, consultants, and other SAP experts.

With the right social technology, the inherent cooperative and interactive nature of social learning can support continuous learning, leading to that corporate shift toward an agile learning environment - and ultimately a better learning outcome. Who knew getting social could be so productive?

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