Social learning is one of those terms we often hear in the higher education or training sector. What is social learning? Why is it of interest? We take a closer look at this idea.
What is social learning?
As part of their development, human beings need to observe, imitate and communicate with each other. This helps them learn to behave appropriately in society, from a very early age, and to acquire useful knowledge. It is indeed impossible to learn the codes that govern social interactions on your own, based on your own behaviour.
Social learning is a method of learning that takes this human characteristic into account. It enables people to talk to and share ideas with other people remotely, using collaborative tools and social media. Students, training officers, teachers, tutors and experts interact easily with each other, mutually enhancing their experience.
Social learning using dedicated tools
Social learning uses different types of tools, such as:
- Virtual classrooms
These offer the same conditions as a traditional classroom thanks to a number of features. Document sharing, virtual whiteboards, work group organisation, survey creation, etc. Virtual classrooms are designed to encourage interaction and dialogue between participants.
- LMS (Learning Management System) platforms
These are software programmes to help companies manage their training. LMS are used to host and deliver training sessions, but they can also monitor performance and manage appraisals. This type of platform can also be customised according to the company’s specific needs.
Further reading: What is blended learning?
Good to know
Although tools are an important part of learning, the human element remains the focus of the social learning system. It is vital that dedicated players (training officers, tutors, etc.) are at the helm to steer social learning towards success.
What are the benefits of social learning?
Social learning as part of a training or higher education programme has several advantages:
- It encourages interaction and inspires students to switch between the role of information source and the role of pupil. Knowledge circulates between participants through exercises, usually carried out in groups.
- It helps students succeed and educates communities.
- It can be used to collect information to improve future training courses or classes.
Social learning is a method of training with a bright future. It has an important role to play in the current climate of social distancing and working from home.