If you’re not sure yet what this post is about – you’re not alone. Social learning, even though it has been around for quite a while, seems to cause a lot of confusion. The truth is, there is no single truth. Social learning is such a wide and yet illusive term that we can tie it to almost anything.
Great portion of our lives moved to social networks, giving social environments a whole new dimension. No one is immune to this online-fever, including businesses.
Many companies are embracing social learning tools, some to complement their traditional training, some to replace it completely with virtual training sessions. Whatever the case: social learning tools are making their way into standard processes and this trend is here to stay. Not surprisingly, social learning tools are growing in numbers and variety. But, where do they come from? Is there any real value to them?
Let’s look back: what does ‘social learning’ mean?
The term has been around for some time now. Social learning and cognitive processes have been a popular topic in the 20th century, especially in the ‘60s. Great minds like Julian B. Rotter and Albert Bandura have built theses around this topic and helped shape modern psychology and pedagogy.
Social learning theory basically states that a person’s behavior has an effect on their surroundings through interaction, and impacts the motivation of others to engage. If expecting positive outcomes, a person is more likely to repeat the action. Simple, right?
Now let’s put this in practical terms…
Our parents or caretakers were the first influencers, giving us basic guidance on how to behave and what to do. Much of what was considered a genetic factor may, in fact, be connected to social learning. We see how others are doing it, and if it seems right – we do it ourselves. As we grow, our social environment becomes more complicated and we start learning from friends, teachers and media.
Of course, this can have negative sides as well: a child watching other child jump off a roof could be a painful example. If the little flyer doesn’t get hurt, the observer might be triggered to replicate the behavior. But, if the parents or guardians are there to ‘moderate’ the behavior – this nasty situation can be put under control. So one of the keys to gaining actual knowledge from social learning is safe, interactive, moderated environment.
The workplace social learning model
Translate that into a workspace, and you have a model for professional skill development through interaction. With proper moderation, social media and social learning tools can be powerful allies. Most tools now are dynamic, making collaboration effortless and cross team communication seamless. Also, as mobile / online interaction became a second nature for most of us, transition to a virtual learning tool seems just natural.
Can ‘a’ social media tool be used for learning?
Absolutely. Social media has been used for various forms of learning. Through gamifications of processes to actual games, social media has been providing organic social learning environments since their creation.
This doesn’t mean that they are the same thing. In fact – they are completely different, for the most part. Social media tools don’t have the ‘learning value’ tied to them by default. It’s all about how you use it, and if you’re a private user like me: there is little you can learn from thousands of cat videos being shared through social media each minute.
Bottom line: social learning tools are here for a reason
It’s all about collaboration. Interactive learning, where communication with your peers isn’t obstructed by physical boundaries of space and time, will ultimately give you great results when it comes to knowledge retention. We also tend to be more accurate and meticulous when writing or creating various content for our peers. This means, through social learning tools, your teams will collaborate much more efficiently, effectively gaining, trading and, most importantly, retaining knowledge.
So many to choose from: pick one
There is a rich variety of social learning tools out there in the market, all of them offering something unique. Before you go on to making a decision, make sure that you have evaluated your true needs. Best way to tighten your choice is to read peer reviews that will give deeper insight into others’ experiences. Again, keep in mind, what works for some might not work for others. If you need help choosing the right solution, we at CollectMyThoughts can help: chose ‘Get Quotes From Vendors’ option in any sidebar, and submit your inquiry.
If you already used a solution – be a good sport and share your experience. There are many professionals out there searching for the right fit for their business environment and perhaps your review will help them find their way.