Research has shown that people learn better when their learning experience has a social component.
This encompasses concepts such as discussion and study groups, the relationship-based discovery and evaluation of learning programs, as well as the use of social networks and badging to broadcast progress.
Many learning management systems are integrating social elements into their products, or leveraging external social media tools for communication and expansion of the learning process in order to strengthen it.
Simply put, we are social creatures by nature and we learn better when we can interact, share ideas and observe others.
Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory states that people learn behavior from their environment through observation, imitation and modeling. Hence, the explosive popularity of learning via sites like YouTube. And though it might seem that eLearning would be counterintuitive to this theory because of its individualized and often isolated nature, technology actually allows us to combine eLearning’s accessibility with the power of social learning as well, making it even more effective than either on their own.
Here are a few ways to incorporate social learning into your eLearning program.
Although videos are often watched alone, it’s the observational nature and our inclination to learn through the imitation of others that are the potent learning solutions in this instance. And what better way to observe others than through video? When we can observe someone physically demonstrating a behavior, task or skill through and we can then imitate until we grasp that skill ourselves. Video is the most powerful method for recreating a first hand experience.
2. Discussion Forums
We can increase our retention and understanding by discussing information with others. And discussing it online is no different. Information is made more memorable by attaching context and emotional connection to it through discussion. When people talk about something, they often relate to personal experiences which other people then connect with emotionally as well.
Adding a healthy sense of competition with others is another way to incorporate social learning into an eLearning program. Leaderboards, rewards programs and interaction with other learners creates a social aspect that creates motivation and inspires learners to stay engaged.
4. Intrinsic Reinforcement
According to Bandura, in social learning, our internal state is also important. We have to encourage a healthy mindset within our learners. It’s not only external recognition or competition that inspires learners but, internal rewards as well, like feeling good. If we can present learners with a sense of accomplishment and increased self-confidence as they go, they will be more fully engaged and therefore experience enhanced learning outcomes. Certificates of achievement, leveling up and creating a sense of accomplishment after they successfully demonstrate their grasp of new material are great ways to do that.
Social interaction plays an important role in learning. Though many eLearning programs are created with isolation and accessibility in mind first, we cannot discount all of the ways in which we can incorporate the power of social learning to improve upon them and reach greater learning outcomes.
Interested in implementing social learning in your eLearning strategy to drive engagement? Contact us today!