The LMS and SNS – A Fine Balance That the LMS needs to incorporate social learning elements is no longer a point of debate but both a question of survival for the LMS itself and also a test of how the LMS handles the balance of both the elements of training and the ‘networkedness’ of the social learning.  We’ve been hearing of experts commenting that LMSs today don’t come with appropriate social media technology built in.

We’d like to differ; the UpsideLMS comes with a unique social learning framework that lets users actually access such social tools from within the LMS in a robust and secure environment for connecting to and sharing with fellow users. Letting users move beyond routine training, into actual personal development.

The system is geared to offer the human face required for social interactions. Users can build an elaborate social network by adding individuals in the enterprise they interact with regularly as friends. This network built over time stretches beyond the departmental or working unit boundaries; eventually resulting in knowledge sharing across multiple channels in the enterprise.

Key to the social experience of using the UpsideLMS is the ability to add other users as friends and followers.  Extensive support for internal micro-blogging to quickly connect users with their network of friends and followers through a series of short status messages about work and life. The constant feed of messages makes the LMS alive and alert.

Recently, Twitter has emerged as a fast growing and influential social networking service. It’s also been known for being leveraged as a great life and learning tool. To harness this already powerful network, the UpsideLMS offers a Twitter widget that lets users access their Twitter streams from within the LMS interface.

Communities are a recurring theme in UpsideLMS, as we believe all the tools we provide aid the organization to build communities that are alive, constantly sharing knowledge and learning as a result. One of the key features of social networks is the spontaneous forming of communities around shared interests and concerns. The UpsideLMS now gives users the ability to create and participate in such communities, letting users share their knowledge and expertise with others in their community. This sense and place of community is a powerful force that can drive learning in the enterprise.

While we are not implementing user generated content and peer rating in the current version of the system, while I’ll admit we are experimenting with such features. It already exists in parts with users able to rate curricula and as an experimental feature to rate videos as well. Such features let the social framework truly come to fruition by supporting emergence – good content and experts will come to the fore. This result of using a social framework brings the organization most value. Our development of these features is going according to plan and we should be able to offer customers these in the first week of March. We’ll post a detailed follow-up post showing how those features work for those who’re interested.

The social learning framework provides a unique way to capture the various types of knowledge that are prevalent in the enterprise. It goes beyond the conventional view of courseware, assignments and assessment, but is fundamental to an Enterprise and its employees’ success. This does not mean however, that the UpsideLMS ignores conventional training delivery as it offers an excellent hybrid of conventional learning management and a social learning framework.

I’d love to hear views from other LMS developers and users who have seen social learning elements being incorporated in other LMS systems. We’re constantly looking to improve the feature set UpsideLMS offers, your comments are valuable.

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