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The Benefits of Social Learning

Dennis Kyle

April 29, 2021

What is Social Learning?

There are many types of learning methods in existence today, but one that has really grown over the past few years is social learning. For those that aren’t familiar, “Social learning is based on a theory developed by psychologist Albert Bandura that proposes learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and occurs purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement.”[1]

The theory found that our environment was particularly impactful on this type of learning, as people tended to mimic others who they felt were similar to them and those whose behaviors generated reactions from others that were favorable to them.[2]

Employing social learning can help businesses more smoothly transfer the most important knowledge to learners. 82% of businesses that currently utilize social learning tools want to increase their use of them in the future.[3] With an increasing amount of the workforce being driven by millennials who grew up with social technology[4], it’s natural that the demand for social learning would increase.

Benefits for Learners

 

Social learning can have a lot of benefits for learners, especially since every learner has different needs. Below are some of the most noteworthy benefits that implementing social learning in your training can provide.

 

Learn at Your Own Pace

Social learning can be done at any point and doesn’t necessarily require attending classes at specific times. It can also be utilized through a number of different channels (from chat messages, to forums, to voice calls), allowing learners with busy schedules, and those who work remotely, to connect and learn when it’s convenient for them.

More Likely To Match the Learners’ Learning Style

Social learning often involves learners interacting with multiple people, which increases the likelihood they will find someone who can help teach them in their desired learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc).  When a learner is able to learn in their preferred learning style, it helps increase their understanding and knowledge retention.

Increases Engagement and Interest

When learners brainstorm or share ideas with their peers, they tend to be more interested than if they are listening to their boss or an instructor teaching them something. This increased attention and engagement can often lead to better results.

Benefits for Businesses

 

 

Social learning can also provide a lot of benefits for businesses. We have listed some of the most useful benefits below.

Saves Time and Resources

Social learning is often done in groups, which allows for multiple learners to understand and practice the new material, while getting feedback quickly.

Additionally, the material is often relayed quickly without a lot of pre-amble or structure. This can save time over traditional learning that tends to be very structured and standardized.

Improves Workplace Collaboration

Social Learning provides an opportunity for sharing between peers that can help get more information out into the open, so people feel more comfortable collaborating with each other. This can lead to new innovations and improvements in employee morale.

Shorter Orientation for New Hires

When learners are surrounded by peers who can show them what really happens at their position, it can help get them up to speed faster. This can save the cost of having a formal trainer instruct them, or needing to create an eLearning to explain the entire process.

 

How to Incorporate Social Learning into your Training

 

 

There are many ways to add a social learning element into your existing training, whether it’s related to employee onboarding, teaching a new skill, or encouraging a change of behavior. Below are a few of our favorite methods.

Gamification

Through awards, badges, and certificates, gamifying the social learning experience can have a big impact on participation and learner competency. A couple suggestions include providing badges to workers who successfully answer learner questions and to workers who reach out with new questions/suggestions to increase engagement.

Chat/Message Boards

Learning is often more successful when it takes place in a less formal environment.[5] Chat applications are generally easy to use and informal in nature, allowing the two to go together very well.

By allowing your team to communicate with each other via chat or a group message board, you can help encourage learners to share without feeling embarrassed about not knowing something, or making a mistake. This can help learners improve quicker and be more likely to share in the future.

Wikis

Having a company knowledge-base where workers are able to access and refresh their memory about processes, or find answers to their questions, saves a lot of time. Often wikis are run by workers, for workers, which contributes to the social aspect of the learning.

When workers are encouraged and rewarded for sharing, the result is a better knowledge-base and an easier time for existing and future learners to get the answers they seek.

Final Thoughts

Positive Results™ is a training development and cloud services company that works with organizations to analyze their business processes and provide solutions to resolve any gaps we find.

We believe that social learning is an important addition to the training development toolkit for many companies.

It’s not the entire solution by itself, but by providing the option for workers to learn socially it gives them more control over their growth and allows them to connect with others in a similar position. This helps to increase their engagement and improves their understanding of the skills being taught, ultimately saving your business time and money.

If you have additional questions or need support, contact us at:

 

Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions

440.499.4944

https://PositiveResults.com

 

[1] https://www.docebo.com/blog/what-is-social-learning-how-to-adopt-it/

[2] https://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html

[3] https://www.docebo.com/blog/what-is-social-learning-how-to-adopt-it/

[4] https://www.docebo.com/blog/workplace-social-learning-engagement-results/

[5] https://elearningindustry.com/informal-learning-in-the-workplace-8-benefits

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