What is social learning, and how can you adopt it in your organization?


From our earliest days, human beings have engaged in social learning, or observational learning. As infants, we watched our parents to learn how to walk, how to smile, and how to speak. As children, we watched our friends to learn social mores and behaviors. 

And as adults at work, we continue social learning every day when we observe and exchange ideas with our coworkers. This informal learning is simply human behavior, and part of our learning process.

What is social learning theory?

Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory says that social learning is informal learning that takes place through observation, imitation, and modeling. Because human beings are social creatures, we take our cues from our peers through this type of observational learning. 

More than passively absorbing information through observation, however, social learning theory shows that human beings tend to learn more efficiently in a group. When we work together, we retain more information, our cognitive process is more engaged, and we get opportunities to teach each other and further cement the knowledge we're acquiring. 

How do you use social and collaborative learning in the workplace?

In the workplace, social learning theory is one of the main ways that workplace culture is transmitted, and it often goes on unnoticed beneath the more formal structure of the learning and development program. 

However, training program managers at forward-thinking organizations are starting to use social learning theory in a more structured way. They foster collaborative learning and reach specific learning outcomes by creating platforms and spaces where learners can collaborate, discuss, and exchange ideas. 

Social and collaborative learning is especially important in today's online learning environments. In online learning, students often feel isolated from one another. Fostering social learning has a direct and noticeable effect on student engagement and employee satisfaction.

Using social learning in the workplace

There are many ways to adopt social learning in the workplace environment. 

Embed social learning in course work. One way to foster collaborative learning is by encouraging social interactions as part of the coursework. Students could be required to post questions and respond to other learners in an online forum. 

Encourage just-in-time learning. Enable learners to get answers to questions and everyday challenges whenever they have them through on-demand learning. You could also set up a messaging app to encourage informal learning and asking questions of one another. 

Create opportunities for teamwork. Group projects and other collaborative opportunities are excellent ways to encourage social learning. Creating teamwork opportunities can also promote social interaction between employees who may not usually work with each other.

Gamify social learning. Gamification is a powerful way for forward-thinking organizations to encourage social learning. For example, you could encourage learners to earn training badges and display them as a way to encourage a learning culture in your organization. 

Foster collaborative learning with social learning technologies

Forums, messaging apps, gamification, and other social learning features can be implemented as part of your learning management platform. 

Take a demo of Opigno LMS to learn more about how our learning platform can help you adopt social learning and creature an influential, vibrant learning culture.



Author: Adam Kennedy-Ripon

Design: Simon Contreras