why social learning is taking online training to the next level

category: engagement

Social learning is a theory which is slowly becoming known in the mainstream training industry as a key element within which we learn. Why? Because, as humans, we learn in a multitude of ways and there is no one set path towards achieving the preferred end result.

Social learning theory highlights that one of the most effective ways to learn is through watching, listening and doing; a blend of learning styles which together help us to better understand, retain and apply new knowledge to situations.

That’s why, today, it’s becoming a crucial element of the eLearning experience, with new techniques bringing social learning into the online world with incredible results.

So, where did the ‘Social Learning Theory’ come from and what does it actually mean?

The Social Learning Theory is the brainchild of psychologist Albert Bandura, who says that we learn better when we observe and imitate someone else’s behaviour – rather than learning from personal experience (which, if left to that, could possibly even be dangerous).

In fact, it’s not actually something new at all (but it didn’t really have a name up until this point) and is regularly described as a bridge between traditional learning theory and a cognitive approach, largely because it focuses on the mental factors involved.

An example could be a child learning how to use a knife and fork.

The child learns this action by repeatedly watching and listening to their parents – and imagine the consequences if they were left to their own devices!

This is a very basic form of social learning.

Another example, in perhaps a more relevant situation, could be if you watched a YouTube video on how to change a tyre on your car – by watching, listening and repeating the action, you are socially learning.

However, there is a fourth element to this theory and that is motivation.

Motivation is essentially the end goal – in this case, to successfully change the tyre and be able to drive away safely (or, for the child, to eat the food)– and the more motivation, the better we learn.

So, what does this mean for eLearning and how does it help us progress?

For eLearning, it’s something that’s happening already – and you might not even know it.

As the industry grows, it has simply moved on from the traditional exam style of reading an article and answering the following question.

Now, we incorporate videos and games into online learning, as well as building online forums where people can ask questions (which can then be answered by experts in the field or other people studying a similar subject) and learning to collaborate with others for the best possible outcome.

It’s all part of social learning and, not only that, it creates a fun, engaging learning environment that motivates people to keep going, even if finding a subject more difficult while retaining information better.

Some courses or forums even offer prizes to people for the best forum contributions, top game scores or collaborations.

The techniques don’t have to be isolated, either.

An excellent way to really help people progress could be by providing a short video with information on a particular skill, which is then re-invented through gamification (when the user applies what they have learnt to solve puzzles or win a game related to their topic) – the possibilities are endless and the results better than ever before.

So, if you’d like to find out more about how to build your own branded, flexible learning experience that is both quick and efficient, while highly engaging, then get in touch to find out how we could bring your training to life.

Just contact the thirst.io team here.