User-generated content is a great way for L&D to quickly disseminate information and skills. It’s relatively easy and affordable to produce and share, but the real benefit of user-generated content for elearning is its real-world credibility. This type of content often has perceived value that is inherent in its very nature because it has already been tried and tested - and is being advocated - by a peer.
So with that in mind, let’s explore what user-generated content is, what the key benefits are, and how it can be effectively harnessed for learning and development purposes.
What is user-generated content for elearning?
When L&D is talking about user-generated content (UGC), we are referring to all types of content which has been produced and shared by a company’s employees. This includes a wide range of content formats such as: videos, images, infographics, podcasts, articles, presentations, blog posts, and forum topics and responses.
What are the benefits of user-generated content for elearning?
When done well, a catalogue of on-demand content can be readily available to pull learners in. Because knowledge can be created and shared quickly among peers, it becomes a reliable source of information and skills. This in turn can be incredibly valuable when organizations need to be more responsive to forces within and outside the business.
And with remote working becoming increasingly common (and mandatory in 2020 for many businesses), user-generated content helps foster social learning. It is an effective medium that can transfer the sharing of ideas and knowledge - which traditionally happens around the office watercooler - to the world wide web.
So it’s no question that user-generated content is integral to modern social learning and can provide informal support. And when employees share what they know, they are often doing more than providing answers; they can influence those around them to model their actions and behavior.
There is also this massive element of trust that can be achieved with user-generated content. More real-world scenarios and solutions can be provided by those on the ground than by management and formal training. And this wealth of shared information can go on to influence future training content and be used to update existing material - you could even put a selfie video, for example, right into an elearning course.
All this can be a powerful solution for businesses - especially when you factor in costs - but that doesn’t mean user-generated content is the only method an organization should employ. The best approach for a great learning environment is a mixture of both formal learning and informal, and for L&D to be the guiding hand.
How to encourage user-generated content for online learning
Great user-generated content needs to be supported and fostered if it is to be used as an effective training tool. Here’s our top tips:
1. Identify a system to use for submissions and sharing
For a specific need, this could be a dedicated email that receives submissions and sends out a weekly round-up. You could also utilise existing social channels within the business such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Facebook’s Workplace. For a more advanced solution, you could create an all-in-one learning management system like Mitchells and Butlers did.
2. Create clear guidelines
Make a central hub of information employees will need, ideally within the system you are using. If that’s not an option, you could host separately on your intranet. From best practices, examples, templates and information on how and where to share, this will be the go-to for all user-generated content questions and resources.
You should also decide what methods you want your team to implement for monitoring the quality and accuracy of content. It is important to think through scenarios where bad information is shared and how to handle this. For example, enabling likes and comments on content could help combat these challenges as poor content won’t get much engagement.
3. Start small and find your champions
Connect with and support Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) within teams to help get things off the ground. Depending on the task or challenge at hand, we recommend identifying a department to start with and expand from there. This way you can perfect the rollout before doing a regional or global rollout.
4. Identify knowledge gaps
Create surveys, polls and forum topics to find out what employees want to know and who they want to learn from. This will give you a great basis to encourage employees to get involved and help you identify your champions and SMEs.
You can also find out what your learners really want to know using Google Analytics and site data, LMS search query results and free marketing content tools.
5. Give recognition and incentives
Consider doing competitions or gift vouchers for specific types of content, create badges for contributors, and ensure management takes the time to say thank you. A like or comment from peers can mean a lot to the contributor, and it can be incredibly powerful and encouraging coming from their manager, CEO or your L&D team.
Not every employee is going to want to contribute or see value in user-generated content. Solving this challenge is unique to each business, so think of how you can encourage uptake. Often the most brilliant can be the most hesitant to get involved, so it’s really worth investing in this.
6. Encourage video and images
Studies have confirmed that visual content performs best - just look at your Facebook feed, where video is the reigning king.
Ready to get started with user-generated content?
Here at Kineo we’re passionate about providing opportunities for learners to take control of their learning. Whether you’re looking for a top elearning vendor to build an all-in-one solution that promotes user-generated learning within your LMS or need support with your L&D strategy to make this successful, we’re here to help.
Get in touch to discover how we can support your learning challenge.
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