eLearning Doesn't Have To Be Lonely!




Social Learning is more than just a trend. Our world now has 2.789 billion social media users (Hootsuite, 2017). The ‘Social Age’ has arrived where the formal work space and the social world has collided (HT2 Labs, 2017). A study by Brandon Gaille, a marketing expert and blog master, found that of the businesses he surveyed 75.4% used social media for business purposes. We live in a world where social platforms are increasingly the way to connect, learn and grow (Origin Learning, 2015), and if you haven’t done so already it’s time to get on the bus!

It’s no secret that our society spends a considerable amount of time on social media websites. Next time you are at the shops, have a look around, you are very likely to see at least one person browsing on their phone. Some see this phenomenon as an addiction but it’s time to start seeing things differently.

Social media can be a useful tool for educational purposes and that’s where social learning comes into play. Social learning is the process of developing and growing together by observing and asking questions to get answers – not just from Google but from your colleagues, friends and fellow learners (GrowthEngineering, 2017). Not only can it improve uptake of your eLearning courses, “Learners who are active in the learning process are twice as likely to recall training as their non-social counterparts” (HT2 Labs, 2017).

While social learning has been a buzzword in the learning and development world for quite some time, the basic concept dates back to the start of mankind. We as human beings, have learnt complex lessons from each other through knowledge sharing, story-telling and modelling.

Think about how a baby learns to speak in their younger years. The baby isn’t sat in front of a PowerPoint presentation and told to memorise words and catch phrases. The baby learns from listening to and observing their parents. In a baby’s early years, you may hear “gobbledygook” and nonsense sounds. Parents will repeat words to their baby and speak slowly to them to model how to speak, and one day the baby speaks a word that makes sense! I know that if there is something I am needing to learn I am more likely to ask someone around me who knows rather than sit through a mind-numbing and onerous PowerPoint presentation or information video (am I right?!). We learn from each other and it works!

So why make learning social?

1.     It’s flexible.

Social learning can happen anywhere and at any time. Learning is often required in the moment and social learning allows this to happen. Let learners ask customised questions when it suits them and have them receive answers from a range of fellow learners with different knowledge and experiences. This can be done through online forums, social learning platforms or via social media, whatever works best for you and your business.

2.     It’s enjoyable.

Social learning feeds our natural desire to connect and share with others. As human beings we are wired to connect with each other. When we finish doing something that involves non-social thinking, the network for social thinking comes back on like a reflex – almost instantly (ScientificAmerican, 2013). Our brains are wired to experience feelings of reward during mutual social interactions so we will naturally seek activities that involve social interaction. Think about how we as humans attend barbeques and get-togethers, how we eat lunch with a colleague or group of peers and how we get that pleasant feeling when a text from a friend pops up on our phone (not to mention the rush of dopamine – the feel good chemical in the brain). You could say that evolution has provided us with the perfect make-up to survive in a world that is continually increasing in population (HuffPost, 2013).  

3.     It works.

Research on the social brain has revealed that we absorb information much better when we learn in order to teach someone else in comparison to just learning to take a test or to memorise information. Sharing your knowledge with someone is prosocial and relies on the social networks of the brain. We now know that activating this part of the brain improves memory (ScientificAmerican, 2013), which consequentially has a positive impact on the retention of learning outcomes.

4.     It’s like a collaborative culture injection.

Creating a network that allows your learners to share knowledge and experiences with each other creates a culture of collaboration. A learner-led culture encourages your learners to communicate with each other and breaks down barriers between teams. It also allows learners to feel part of the bigger picture (GrowthEngineering, 2017).

It is second nature for us to want to share interesting, hilarious or meaningful posts with our networks, so why not harness this and get your learners to share what they know with their peers? It taps into our natural instincts to share and connect with each other and has a significant increase on the amount of information we can memorise and retain.

We hope you enjoyed this blog on social learning. Here at Belvista Studios we are always striving to keep up to date with the latest trends in eLearning and this is one not to be missed. If you would like to know more about how you can implement social learning in your organisation visit our website via http://www.belvistastudios.com or email info@belvistastudios.com.

A little bit about the author...

"I am Hannah and I am passionate about how we can create effective and fun learning experiences. I believe that if you create enjoyment and social connection through learning, learning outcomes can sky rocket! The world is changing and becoming more and more digital by the day. We need to harness this and see what's possible!". 


References

Brandon Gaille (2017). 23 Great Social Media at Work Statistics and Trends. Retrieved 11 July, 2017, from:

Hootsuite (2017). Digital in 2017 Report. Retrieved 10 July, 2017, from:

HT2 Labs (2017). Curatr. Retrieved 10 July, 2017, from:

Growth Engineering (2017). Retrieved 10 July, 2017, from:

Origin Learning (2015). Social Learning Pays off – A Success Story. Retrieved 10 July, 2017, from:

Scientific American (2017). Why We Are Wired to Connect. Retrieved 10 July, 2017, from:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-we-are-wired-to-connect/ 

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