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June 4, 2024
|
5 mins to read

Communication in learning: Why words matter

In this piece, we’ll explore the connection between communication and learning – and why they are so closely intertwined.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

In this piece, we’ll dive into the important role communication plays in the learning process – and to take this even further, explain why we believe they are so closely intertwined.

This blog is a companion piece to go alongside our new downloadable PDF. To get the full story, download "Communication in learning: Why words matter" here.

Communication is the exchange of information and ideas… sound familiar?

Learning is, quite obviously, at the heart of everything we do at Thrive. And on our travels through thousands of customers’ L&D strategies, we’ve observed one clear through-line when it comes to effective learning experiences; a through-line that can be summed up with three words: Communication, connection and community.

There’s a reason why our all-in-one platform places comms features alongside learning and training functionality. It’s a way to gently introduce your workforce to the idea of knowledge-sharing in the workplace, and to enable the easy exchange of ideas.

Just take Thrive customer Westmorland Family as an example. Speaking as part of Thrive’s “Retail Revolution” webinar last September, Matt Brooks (Head of Learning) said the following:

“Communication can be the hook to pull people in, then you hit them with the learning.”

- Matt Brooks, Head of Learning, Westmorland Family


Having soared to the top five most engaged companies on the platform within the first six months of launch, the Westmorland team knows a thing or two about captivating learners. They got their workforce to adopt the platform in record time, embracing the user generated content capabilities in a flurry of initial activity that served to get them off the ground. From then on, using the platform was like second nature.

Westmorland Family’s use of Thrive is the perfect illustration of the fact that learning is social. The more that their first cohort of colleagues used the platform and shared knowledge, the more everyone else wanted to follow suit.

"When a few people have a go, everyone joins in – it's having those few brave souls who are going to step forward first... Once that happens and you're past the tipping point, it becomes normal."

- Matt Brooks, Head of Learning, Westmorland Family

The power of social learning and community

If you have been taking part in literally any conversations within the last year, there’s a chance you might just have heard of this thing called AI. It’s making quite a stir, and the L&D industry is far from exempt from this excitement.

At Thrive, we’ve made our own incredible leaps and bounds with AI in recent months: Starting out with a humble roadmap that steadily grew into a full-blown suite of game-changing AI features, we embraced AI’s capabilities with cautious optimism. In order to support these efforts, we hired Head of AI Niloufar Zarin and have even led several thought-provoking talks and webinars on the topic. We’re proud that this has resulted in our AI content authoring tool, WhatsApp coach and AI-powered search function that will make learning easier and more effective for learners and admins alike.

So we’re of course not saying that tech and innovation aren’t important – far from it. But placing innovation over human connection - or vice versa - is a false binary. There needs to be equal emphasis placed on both. These two things working in tandem with each other makes for an incredible, well-rounded experience that bridges the best of both worlds.

For us, the effectiveness of social learning can’t be overstated.

You only need to do a cursory scan of the internet for the phrase “benefits of social learning”, and you’ll uncover several impressive stats. For example, did you know that Harvard Business School’s online education initiative boasted over 85% course completion rates when they used social learning, compared to just 7% using traditional methods?

It’s easy to see that social learning is effective – but why exactly?

From the HBS study:

“When students asked a question on the platform, we resisted the urge to jump in, instead leaving it to peers to do so. When students struggled with a concept, we resisted (even more) the urge to jump in and correct the group, but relied on peers to do so. The results were remarkable (and somewhat humbling if you’re an expert): in more than 90% of cases, questions were precisely and accurately answered by the peer group.”

From “What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration From HBX” by Jan Hammond, V.G. Narayanan, and Bharat N. Anand

This just serves to prove the fact that: (A) peers - or for our purposes, your employees - can largely be relied on to correctly answer questions, and should be empowered to do so. (B) Human connection and collaboration are at the core of social learning.

Different factors that influence communication

When you acknowledge that communication is at the core of learning, the next step is to make sure you’re communicating as clearly as you can. This starts by broadening your view of how people take in information.

There is certainly no “one right way” to receive information – just as there isn’t a wrong way to do so. People are fascinating, complex individuals, each with our own unique patchwork of circumstances that make up the way we personally see the world. That perspective can be informed by anything from our cognitive style, to our age, to the way we were brought up.

The important thing is to keep this individuality in mind when communicating with learners, thereby leading to more effective, inclusive learning.

Cognitive style

When we talk about cognitive style, we’re talking very basically about the ways in which people think, perceive the world around them, and remember the information they’re taught. For example, a neurotypical person will generally find it easier to recognise meaning through facial expressions and non-verbal cues, whereas someone with Autism may require literal, straightforward language in order to understand.

Obviously, the above examples all pertain to social interactions, but isn’t that at the core of learning; the intersection between social interaction and knowledge-sharing? That’s why it’s so important to keep these differences in mind.

Age

Age influences a few different factors when it comes to the ways in which people learn and communicate. First and most obviously, cognitive abilities and knowledge can of course evolve and change with age, influencing how people remember information.

Secondly, language itself evolves with each generation, and therefore so do our methods of communication. This evolution has the tendency to widen into a gap, pushing different generations further apart and hampering their understanding of one another.

If you’re over the age of 25 - maybe even (gasp) in your forties, fifties or sixties - you might be feeling slightly outnumbered by the younger generation on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Across these platforms, slang has been created, edited, warped and regurgitated, until anyone who is old enough to remember the Y2K panic feels like they’re trying to understand a foreign language whenever they talk to a “Zoomer.”

And Gen Z has been criticised for this time and time again, particularly within the workplace. This is nothing new; it seems that each generation is cursed with resenting the one that comes after them, and everything from their slang to their clothes to their hobbies becomes fodder for criticism. You just have to look back at the way people spoke about teenagers throughout history to see the clear pattern that’s formed over the decades. From the teens of the 1950’s being condemned for listening to their radios, through to the current contempt for Gen Z’s use of internet slang and social media, absolutely no-one is safe.

The language associated with these different generations has gone through exactly the same treatment. With each passing decade, the older generations get pushed further into bemusement by the way their younger counterparts speak.

But more recently, a shift appears to be taking place towards a kind of Gen Z supremacy. A recent study from Barclays revealed that three quarters of Brits think the younger generation is changing the formality of language in the workplace — and why shouldn’t they? Gen Z is tasked with leading up social and political movements, shaping fashion and beauty trends, and setting the tone for pop culture, so it makes sense that we’d defer to them when it comes to the way we talk.

Education and experience

Education and experience are two more factors that inform the way people learn. When we talk about these two factors, we’re talking about them both in formal and informal terms.

For example, your experience could be the way you were raised, your cultural background, jobs you’ve worked, or lived experiences you’ve gone through. Education can be anything from a book you read to a university course you completed. The spectrum is broad, but the effect is the same: Your experiences inform your perspective.

To discover our top tips on communicating clearly in your learning materials, click here to download the full "Communication in learning" PDF.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.

June 4, 2024
|
5 mins to read

Communication in learning: Why words matter

In this piece, we’ll explore the connection between communication and learning – and why they are so closely intertwined.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

In this piece, we’ll dive into the important role communication plays in the learning process – and to take this even further, explain why we believe they are so closely intertwined.

This blog is a companion piece to go alongside our new downloadable PDF. To get the full story, download "Communication in learning: Why words matter" here.

Communication is the exchange of information and ideas… sound familiar?

Learning is, quite obviously, at the heart of everything we do at Thrive. And on our travels through thousands of customers’ L&D strategies, we’ve observed one clear through-line when it comes to effective learning experiences; a through-line that can be summed up with three words: Communication, connection and community.

There’s a reason why our all-in-one platform places comms features alongside learning and training functionality. It’s a way to gently introduce your workforce to the idea of knowledge-sharing in the workplace, and to enable the easy exchange of ideas.

Just take Thrive customer Westmorland Family as an example. Speaking as part of Thrive’s “Retail Revolution” webinar last September, Matt Brooks (Head of Learning) said the following:

“Communication can be the hook to pull people in, then you hit them with the learning.”

- Matt Brooks, Head of Learning, Westmorland Family


Having soared to the top five most engaged companies on the platform within the first six months of launch, the Westmorland team knows a thing or two about captivating learners. They got their workforce to adopt the platform in record time, embracing the user generated content capabilities in a flurry of initial activity that served to get them off the ground. From then on, using the platform was like second nature.

Westmorland Family’s use of Thrive is the perfect illustration of the fact that learning is social. The more that their first cohort of colleagues used the platform and shared knowledge, the more everyone else wanted to follow suit.

"When a few people have a go, everyone joins in – it's having those few brave souls who are going to step forward first... Once that happens and you're past the tipping point, it becomes normal."

- Matt Brooks, Head of Learning, Westmorland Family

The power of social learning and community

If you have been taking part in literally any conversations within the last year, there’s a chance you might just have heard of this thing called AI. It’s making quite a stir, and the L&D industry is far from exempt from this excitement.

At Thrive, we’ve made our own incredible leaps and bounds with AI in recent months: Starting out with a humble roadmap that steadily grew into a full-blown suite of game-changing AI features, we embraced AI’s capabilities with cautious optimism. In order to support these efforts, we hired Head of AI Niloufar Zarin and have even led several thought-provoking talks and webinars on the topic. We’re proud that this has resulted in our AI content authoring tool, WhatsApp coach and AI-powered search function that will make learning easier and more effective for learners and admins alike.

So we’re of course not saying that tech and innovation aren’t important – far from it. But placing innovation over human connection - or vice versa - is a false binary. There needs to be equal emphasis placed on both. These two things working in tandem with each other makes for an incredible, well-rounded experience that bridges the best of both worlds.

For us, the effectiveness of social learning can’t be overstated.

You only need to do a cursory scan of the internet for the phrase “benefits of social learning”, and you’ll uncover several impressive stats. For example, did you know that Harvard Business School’s online education initiative boasted over 85% course completion rates when they used social learning, compared to just 7% using traditional methods?

It’s easy to see that social learning is effective – but why exactly?

From the HBS study:

“When students asked a question on the platform, we resisted the urge to jump in, instead leaving it to peers to do so. When students struggled with a concept, we resisted (even more) the urge to jump in and correct the group, but relied on peers to do so. The results were remarkable (and somewhat humbling if you’re an expert): in more than 90% of cases, questions were precisely and accurately answered by the peer group.”

From “What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration From HBX” by Jan Hammond, V.G. Narayanan, and Bharat N. Anand

This just serves to prove the fact that: (A) peers - or for our purposes, your employees - can largely be relied on to correctly answer questions, and should be empowered to do so. (B) Human connection and collaboration are at the core of social learning.

Different factors that influence communication

When you acknowledge that communication is at the core of learning, the next step is to make sure you’re communicating as clearly as you can. This starts by broadening your view of how people take in information.

There is certainly no “one right way” to receive information – just as there isn’t a wrong way to do so. People are fascinating, complex individuals, each with our own unique patchwork of circumstances that make up the way we personally see the world. That perspective can be informed by anything from our cognitive style, to our age, to the way we were brought up.

The important thing is to keep this individuality in mind when communicating with learners, thereby leading to more effective, inclusive learning.

Cognitive style

When we talk about cognitive style, we’re talking very basically about the ways in which people think, perceive the world around them, and remember the information they’re taught. For example, a neurotypical person will generally find it easier to recognise meaning through facial expressions and non-verbal cues, whereas someone with Autism may require literal, straightforward language in order to understand.

Obviously, the above examples all pertain to social interactions, but isn’t that at the core of learning; the intersection between social interaction and knowledge-sharing? That’s why it’s so important to keep these differences in mind.

Age

Age influences a few different factors when it comes to the ways in which people learn and communicate. First and most obviously, cognitive abilities and knowledge can of course evolve and change with age, influencing how people remember information.

Secondly, language itself evolves with each generation, and therefore so do our methods of communication. This evolution has the tendency to widen into a gap, pushing different generations further apart and hampering their understanding of one another.

If you’re over the age of 25 - maybe even (gasp) in your forties, fifties or sixties - you might be feeling slightly outnumbered by the younger generation on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Across these platforms, slang has been created, edited, warped and regurgitated, until anyone who is old enough to remember the Y2K panic feels like they’re trying to understand a foreign language whenever they talk to a “Zoomer.”

And Gen Z has been criticised for this time and time again, particularly within the workplace. This is nothing new; it seems that each generation is cursed with resenting the one that comes after them, and everything from their slang to their clothes to their hobbies becomes fodder for criticism. You just have to look back at the way people spoke about teenagers throughout history to see the clear pattern that’s formed over the decades. From the teens of the 1950’s being condemned for listening to their radios, through to the current contempt for Gen Z’s use of internet slang and social media, absolutely no-one is safe.

The language associated with these different generations has gone through exactly the same treatment. With each passing decade, the older generations get pushed further into bemusement by the way their younger counterparts speak.

But more recently, a shift appears to be taking place towards a kind of Gen Z supremacy. A recent study from Barclays revealed that three quarters of Brits think the younger generation is changing the formality of language in the workplace — and why shouldn’t they? Gen Z is tasked with leading up social and political movements, shaping fashion and beauty trends, and setting the tone for pop culture, so it makes sense that we’d defer to them when it comes to the way we talk.

Education and experience

Education and experience are two more factors that inform the way people learn. When we talk about these two factors, we’re talking about them both in formal and informal terms.

For example, your experience could be the way you were raised, your cultural background, jobs you’ve worked, or lived experiences you’ve gone through. Education can be anything from a book you read to a university course you completed. The spectrum is broad, but the effect is the same: Your experiences inform your perspective.

To discover our top tips on communicating clearly in your learning materials, click here to download the full "Communication in learning" PDF.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.