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Why Is Social Learning Important In Education?

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Published on: 28 Mar 2022

It is believed that we learn in the ratio 70:20:10. According to this model, 70% of learning comes from observation, 20% from interaction and 10% from traditional learning. It sums up that the most natural and simple way of learning is through social interaction in a group by observation. 
In today's world, it is known as social learning. The growing popularity of social learning stems from its practicality and everyday use. 

In this blog, we understand the fad of social learning in today's online teaching and training industry. 

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What is social learning?

Albert Bandura's social learning theory states that observation and imitation are the two ways in which one learns from his environment. 

The theory has absolute real-world implications too. Learning from one another in a classroom or by following the footsteps of mentors and role models is an example of social learning. 
In today's digitally connected yet remote world, the concept of social learning can be judiciously used. 

To sum it up, the characteristics of social learning include:

Direct and indirect learning through interactions. A face-to-face social interaction involves formal training or group interaction activity. An indirect example of social learning would include seminars, forums, online discussions and the like. 
The information acquired through social learning is done actively. Here, the role environment, behaviour influence and cognitive abilities work mutually. 

In the new era of learning digitally, many developments on the technological front have cropped up. From educational apps to online courses to yielding a pathway to the metaverse, there has been tremendous growth in the education sector. 
While technology achieves newer milestones, the pedagogues and teachers are busy infusing it to provide a more personalised learning experience to learners. Here, social learning has emerged as a crucial concept. Learning in the company of like-minded individuals, at your own pace, place and time significantly increases retention and learning. The learning outcomes are significantly better as compared to traditional learning methods. 

According to a study conducted by FutureLearn in 2020, social learners viewed 37% more content than other learners. 

Screenshot Capture - 2022-03-03 - 13-49-10

Source: FutureLearn

This brings us to ponder how social learning has a positive impact on learning and is possibly better. 

Why is social learning better than traditional learning?

Since social learning is the buzzword today, making it the foundation of many upcoming online learning apps and solutions, it is only logical to understand what differentiates it from other forms of learning. 
Its success can be attributed to its four concepts. These concepts shape the philosophy of social learning. It is important to include these four concepts for successful social learning:

1. Observational learning

Observation lies at the core of social learning. Learning happens when behaviour, process, technique, or a method is observed, imitated and reciprocated in a social environment through observation. Keen observation, close imitation, implementation and improvement is the entire chain of social learning. But it all begins with the component of observation. 

2. Interaction and Reciprocal Determinism

A positive, conducive environment, facilitating interaction and learning is a catalyst to social learning. 
Albert Bandura's theory of reciprocal determinism also states that a person's behaviour influences and is influenced by a combination of social and personal environment. 

3. Self-regulation and Discipline

When social learning takes place an individual is motivated to learn and manage his learning targets and goals on his own. Discipline and self-regulation are key components of successful social learning. 

4. Self-efficacy

Social learning is successful when the fourth component of self-efficacy is present in a learner. When a learner is confident and dedicated enough to produce the desired result, will he be able to perform better and learn more effectively? Evaluating past experiences, learning from them and improving upon existing performance through constant practice and close imitation is helpful in producing desired results through social learning. 
A good blend of all these four components in the appropriate ratio is the best example of social learning. In a nutshell, the fruits of social learning can easily be borne in E-learning. 

How to use social learning in E-learning? 

The general understanding is that social learning happens through observation and imitation in a face-to-face situation. However, that would be optimal, the E-learning industry can implement tenets of social learning into their teaching strategies. 
It all boils down to how well you create a social learning environment in a classroom and take it to online learning. 

Here is a list of strategies that will ensure smooth incorporation of social learning in digital learning:

Use of user-generated content on different topics, layered with personal experience, do's and don'ts to impart learning from a member of a social network. Learning portals and apps can upload and use this content by making it accessible to a learner or the public. 

Interactions and discussions lie at the heart of social learning. So it is pivotal to build space for online discussions when incorporating social learning into Elearning. Learners will naturally have questions, follow-ups, advice, and ideas when learning online and a space for interaction, like a forum or a comment section, is the ideal to express them.

Since digital learning is more isolated than traditional learning there can be a lack of motivation among learners. To fill in this gap online learning portals and apps should include rewards and prices in an engaging learning pattern. For instance, gamification is gaining momentum and is a great way to motivate and learn. The nudge is to collect as many badges, coins, scores and the like to compete with other learners. 

To make online learning less isolated, the social learning phenomena includes the module of collaboration wherein Q&A sessions are fundamental. Learners can easily interact with subject matter experts and gain quick answers to queries. They can discuss their ideas and work together too.  

When these strategies are effectively executed in an online social learning platform, social learning can smoothly be taken to online learning.

Benefits of social learning in E-learning

Successful execution of the social learning module (which strategies mentioned above) leads to the following benefits:

  • Better retention due to informal or social knowledge exchange instead of formal learning. 
  • A natural and more automatic way to learn since it is embedded in our system. 
  • Collaborative learning leads to the identification of knowledge gaps. Group discussions help understand the concepts in a much easier way and promote active learning. 
  • It is an aid in learning as it boosts engagement and encompasses all types of learners. It promotes each student to ask questions and indulge in a discussion. 
  • Moreover, it leads to revisions and problem-solving in real-time. 

Generally speaking, social learning is a very practical method of learning. We use it every day in our day-to-day life consciously and unconsciously. The inclusion of social learning in the digital learning environment would be a huge aid to the process. It will be massively impactful in tying the whole experience together. 

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What is social learning?

The concept of social learning describes learning that takes place in a social environment by observation, imitation and action among humans.

Who proposed the theory of social learning?

The theory of social learning was put forth by psychologist Albert Bandura. In this theory, he states how humans learn from each other in a social setting. Thus, proving that learning is a cognitive process, taking place in a social environment in the absence of a mentor or a teacher.

Can social learning be included in E-learning?

Yes, social learning can be successfully implemented into E-learning. It will make the isolated digital learning experience more social and memorable.

How to apply social learning theory in a classroom?

Social theory can be applied in a traditional classroom through active group discussions, peer assessment, discussions and progress monitoring.

What are the use cases of social learning?

Social learning can not only be used in a classroom but can also be used in corporations and in offices to train new recruits. Social learning can also be used for assessment and progress monitoring.