Most people think buzzwords are annoying, trendy and overused words that pop up everywhere. Buzzwords serve one purpose: to drum up excitement around an idea, product, or event. That’s why people use them.

While Chris and I worked through the Atlas, we kept an eye on words that came up to see if we could find any trends in the industry. I’m not one for graphs and charts, that’s more Chris’s speed. What I’m into are trends and patterns. (If you were wondering, I have an affinity for plaid, houndstooth and ikat patterns).

After months of observation, one of the trends we saw was a move in the industry towards social learning.

Everyone has different meanings for what “social learning” is and what it does. For some, it means collaborating with others while creating or viewing content. For others, social learning means simply the integration of social media, like blogs, wikis, Twitter or Facebook into traditional eLearning. For me, social learning is both of these things.

A few months ago, I added Cookie Intern to my resume here at Rustici Software. A match made in heaven, as I love to bake and the Rusticians love to eat.

All of the sudden, every batch of cookies started tasting like soap. I couldn’t figure it out. I changed pans, mixing bowls, spatulas, everything. I took my questions to Facebook and Twitter, begging my friends to provide suggestions, hints, anything that would vanquish this soapy situation. They posted helpful links and speculations, and finally I got my answer. Baking soda.

Old, old baking soda that began its journey with me as a high school senior, watched me matriculate at Alabama, witnessed the glory of our 2009 National Championship (Roll Tide), smiled at my graduation, and travelled with me to my new home in Nashville. Who knew that old baking soda made cookies taste like soap, right?

Anyways, my point is that I could have Googled the answer myself but I used my community, where my friends and family could brainstorm with me and the group came to the final conclusion, together. This is what social learning is all about: making connections to people and what they know.

Chris and I have been fortunate enough, through working with the Atlas, to discover companies who are integrating different forms of social learning into their solutions. Take a look at all of the different companies in the eLearning Atlas that are making the move towards social learning.

So keep your eyes open, eLearning world. We’ve only scratched the surface of what social learning is capable of.