Dornubari Vizor May 23, 2023

Unleashing the Power of Social Learning: What You Need to Know and How to Implement It

Social Learning

What is social learning? It’s something that many of us are still unaware of, despite having been involved in it for most of our lives. Today, course creators are actively harnessing the power of social learning through online communities. More and more companies and entities are taking advantage of this trend, with around 50% of companies using social learning tools and platforms.

But what is social learning, where does it come from, and how can you implement it? This post has the answers to all of those questions. So, let’s dive right in!

What is Social Learning?

Ever heard the famous old phrase, Monkey see, monkey do?

Social Learning

This phrase is based on the notion of imitation and that’s the gist of social learning. Does that ring any bell?

Let me define it for you.

Social learning refers to human behavior or anything learned through observation and imitating others. It’s the most informal type of learning.

Understanding Social Learning

Social learning is flexible. It can happen in a number of ways in different settings. Plus, it can involve direct instruction or mere observation. Social learning can happen both consciously and unconsciously.

Moreover, humans can choose who to imitate. Not just that, humans also tend to choose where or when they can be involved in social learning. Again, this can happen both consciously or unconsciously. Humans can acquire both negative and positive behaviors.

Thus, social learning is a very fluid manner of learning.

Let’s consider another definition of Social Learning for a better understanding. Author Marcia Conner defines social learning as

“Social learning is participating with others to make sense of new ideas. Augmented by a new slew of social tools, people can gather information and gain new context from people across the globe and around the clock as easily as they could from those they work beside.”

Marcia defines social learning in light of how modern entrepreneurs, creators, and coaches are using tools and platforms to foster social learning in the digital world. Robust learning community platforms such as GroupApp are widely used to connect like-minded people and create a healthy environment for social learning.

The idea of social learning stems from the Social Learning Theory. Let’s find out what that is.

Social Learning Theory Simplified

Social Learning

The Social Learning Theory was developed in 1973 by the famed social-cognitive psychologist, Albert Bandura. It can also be referred to as the Social Cognitive Theory.

Let me simplify the Social Learning theory for you

Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory is based on two things.

  1. An observational learning process
  2. A social context or setting that involves other people

Basically, the social learning theory suggests that people learn by observing other people and that learning is a cognitive process. Essentially, we tend to adopt behaviors more than mere ideas or perspectives. We adopt behaviors that are socially acceptable and are not criticized.

Core Concepts of Social Learning Theory

For a better understanding, let’s consider a few core concepts of the comprehensive social learning theory.

1 – Mental state is important for Social Learning

In the case of social learning, we need to note that external and environmental reinforcement factors are not the only ones influencing social learning. There are several internal factors such as motivation, mental states, and other cognitive factors that also influence the process of social learning.

That’s why this theory is also referred to as the social cognitive theory as coined by Albert Bandura himself. A person’s behavior is also influenced by Intrinsic Reinforcement which is internal rewards such as a sense of accomplishment.

This tells us about the link between different learning theories and cognitive theories.

2 – People learn through Observational Learning

This simply tells us that human learning can easily happen through observation. This can be further divided into three models.

  • Live Model: This involves a human demonstrating a certain type of action or a particular behavior.
  • Verbal Instruction Model: This involves an explanation or description of human behavior.
  • Symbolic Model: This involves a fictional or a real character acting out a certain behavior on social media, in films, or books.

3 – Change is not guaranteed through Observational Learning

This one’s important for you to note.

How do we determine that a particular behavior has been learned or acquired? Usually, it happens by seeing by instant or gradual change in behavior,

However, that’s not the case always. In many cases, you might never see the change. In fact, people might learn a new behavior without exhibiting any behavior change.

Types of Social Learning

Further, there are two types of social learning, according to Albert Bandura.

  1. Reinforcement Learning
  2. Vicarious Learning

Let me explain both to you.

Reinforcement Learning

In essence, humans learn new behaviors from the consequences of their behavior or actions. The new behavior is shaped by positive or negative feedback from their social environment.

Vicarious Learning

In the case of Vicarious Learning, people tend to learn new behaviors by observing other people in their environment. They observe other people before engaging in any action to reduce the risk of any errors.

Both of these types of social learning can easily take place in an online community or learning through online courses. Live training sessions and group activities are the best examples of Vicarious Learning.

On the other hand, course creators can foster Reinforcement Learning by sharing feedback with their students based on their course progress or overall performance.

4 Social Learning Theory Principles

After a solid understanding of what social learning is, now we are going to talk about the 4 principles of the social learning theory. You can also refer these to as the 4 steps of the social learning process.

Social Learning

Basically, these 4 steps are meditational processes that help us determine how a new behavior is learned.

Let’s get into it.

1 – Attention

This is where everything starts!

For observational learning, attention is the spark. To learn anything new, attention is important and is a prerequisite. If a person’s behavior in a social setting is interesting enough, it will grab attention. If not, it will have a negative effect on learning.

If anything grabs attention, a human is prone to concentrate and willing to learn it.

2 – Retention

Next, one needs to retain information after observation. That’s how social learning will progress. if your student cannot recall what they saw or were shown, learning is not possible. Not just that, a person has to retain the information in the future as well for social learning to happen.

3 – Reproduction

A person has to reproduce a behavior after attention and retention. Basically, it’s the step where you will be able to see whether learning has been successful. Further, if the person can practice the behavior or reproduce the behavior constantly, that leads to improvement.

4 – Motivation

People can imitate or reproduce a certain behavior but the big question is “Do they have the motivation to do that?” This is where reinforcement comes into play. People tend to be motivated to perform a certain action if they receive positive feedback or a reward.

All of these steps are important and must be incorporated in every case of social learning.

Benefits of Social Learning

Social Learning

Social Learning is vital for course creators, community leaders, and online coaches. It offers a lot of benefits. Let’s discuss how important and beneficial social learning is.

First, social learning naturally goes with human nature. We are social animals after all.

That’s why it comes as a natural way to learn something socially. It’s effortless and can happen both consciously or unconsciously. Essentially, it’s an informal and effective way of learning. That’s where 90% of our learning comes from.

Next, social learning helps to build engagement. It gives us the opportunity to learn new persona and professional skills in a learning community. Social and community tools such as GroupApp give a platform to engage like-minded people for social learning. In fact, 85% of learners prefer social and community learning tools. Plus, 90% of learners agreed to the need of incorporating social tools into their formal education system.

Social learning helps to create a dynamic learning environment with a sense of collaboration. Moreover, it’s a cost-effective solution for creators and coaches. In addition, social learning introduces us to better, broader, and more diverse skills from other people.

That’s the beauty of social learning! According to a study, 54% of learners agree that social learning tools and platforms enhance the overall learning and teaching process.

In addition, social learning is great for efficient problem-solving. In fact, one can get several resolution approaches to a problem in real-time. This also leads to the improvement of communication within an organization.

Lastly, social learning promotes a constructive perspective, which is a great thing. It presents learning as an active and constructive process. Everyone involved is a learner and stakeholder in the process of learning,

How to Implement Social Learning?

Finally, let’s see how you can implement social learning in your business venture. Essentially, social learning is implemented through different mediums, platforms, or strategies. Let’s talk about it.

Create A Learning Community

This is the most common and successful way to implement social learning in real life. A learning community fosters social learning in the best way possible. Like-minded individuals with shared learning goals come together on the platform.

A learning community acts as a social setting for members. Further, they learn new behaviors from fellow community members, through training sessions, online courses, and community activities.

If you are a course creator, you can create a learning community around your online courses. Opting for a dedicated learning community platform is the smartest thing to do. Having one platform that corresponds to all your needs saves you time and cost.

Need an example? Consider GroupApp

Social Learning

GroupApp is an all-in-one learning community platform. It enables you to host your learning community and courses in one place. Plus, it comes with an in-built course builder, event feature, membership tool, and community management feature. GroupApp also offers an iOS and Android mobile app.

Create an Inclusive Learning & Knowledge-sharing Culture

Establishing a knowledge-sharing and inclusive learning culture is the basis of social learning.

That is because culture is a primary factor that determines how and when social learning takes place. Such culture helps to create the most favorable environment for social learning. Moreover, induce a sense of collaboration as well. Make it mandatory for your students to engage with each rather it an exception.

Gamify Social Learning & Add Incentives to Foster Social Learning

This is one of the best ways to foster and boost social learning. It is based on the 4th principle of social learning which is motivation. Gamification can help you tap into the intrinsic motivations of your students and create a sense of accomplishment.

You can top it with rewards and incentives to enhance the social learning and gamification process. It creates healthy internal competition among students. Plus, you can gamify a learning experience for an educational or corporate training setting.

Around 86% of companies are actively using rewards for their employees. Moreover, a study showed that 50% of students were motivated to interact and ask questions when there was an incentive for collaboration in place.

You can easily track student progress in gamification with analytics. If you are using a platform such as GroupApp, you will have access to built-in real-time analytics and can generate reports as well.

Lead by Example

This strategy is aimed at managers or superiors in an organization or community. The managers and superiors act as role models for the rest in addition to managing and designating tasks.

This leads to a very natural form of social learning. That is because they look up to their managers or superiors. If the managers exhibit a more positive and likable behavior the employees are more likely to engage in social learning.

Use Discussion Groups, Social Feeds, & Live Sessions

This strategy stresses the use of different social tools and platforms. Creating discussion groups within the community provides people with a dedicated place to collaborate, learn, and exchange ideas. With GroupApp, you create Channels to host discussions along with providing learning material.

In addition, you can opt for a user feed on social media platforms such as Facebook. It acts as a stream of updates, questions, answers, and discussions. If you are using GroupApp, you will have your community feed. Your members can react and comment on posts.

Lastly, you can host live sessions for brainstorming, real-time feedback sharing, and training. For that, you need a platform or tool to create live sessions. GroupApp offers an in-built event feature that is dedicated to creating and scheduling live events.

Wrapping Up

There you go! The most important aspects of social learning are all covered for you. Now, you need to come up with a social learning strategy that is well-suited for your organization.

Today, social learning largely relies on social tools and platforms. Make sure you choose a platform that complements social learning with all the necessary tools. Do not opt for multiple platforms. Instead, look for an all-in-one learning community platform. What an all-in-one learning community platform looks like?

Look no further and check out GroupApp. Create a free account and kick-off social learning.

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