‘Social Learning’ has been a buzz phrase for some time and L&D departments may feel under pressure to ‘do social learning’. It’s important to remember that it won’t be appropriate for every learning need. There is a time and a place. However, in the right circumstances encouraging social learning can be a great enabler for performance enhancement.

What is Social Learning? In simple terms, Social Learning takes place when we learn from observation of others; by watching their behaviours and the consequences or outcomes they lead to.  For example, a small child might learn by observing the unruly behaviour of a sibling and the subsequent reprimand by a parent.

If you’re interested to learn more, we’d suggest starting with Albert Bandura’s early work which is often associated with the theory.

Social Learning has always been important; after all it is probably one of the oldest and most natural ways in which people learn.  More recently though we’ve witnessed two significant step changes in its application:

  1. Firstly, advancements in digital technologies have led to a plethora of widely available social and/or collaborative technologies.
  2. Secondly, we’ve seen a vast increase in organisations who are recognising, embedding & encouraging social learning within their workplace.

We all regularly learn from our peers, regardless of their location or function, using social learning technologies such as wikis, instant messaging, discussion forums and even video. Nowadays, when we talk of ‘social learning’ in the L&D space, typically we mean social learning using digital technology. This is a narrower definition than the academic one.

What are the benefits of Social Learning?

  • Social Learning encourages collaboration in the workplace – if you have an expert (or someone who can help) within your organisation, why would you go anywhere else?
  • Beyond the technology investment, the learning itself is often free or of minimal cost.
  • Social learning enables you to learn at the point of need and put that learning into action quickly.
  • It’s often quick; so has minimal impact on a learner’s working day.

Does Guykat help implement Social Learning? Social Learning is very high on our agenda at GuyKat.  We’ve already developed a number of technologies that enable us to build innovative social interactions into our eLearning content.  This is an exciting option for our clients. Combining both social and traditional eLearning adds to the learner’s enjoyment of the module, whilst potentially increasing their retention of the content. Done well, this ultimately leads to an increased return on investment.

Do we practice Social Learning internally? Absolutely! We don’t think that GuyKat could function without it! We’re a very supportive team and have created a fantastic culture for collaboration and sharing.  We’re quite diverse, in terms of our location, experience and specialism so we tend to make very good use of our messaging forum.

“It never ceases to amaze me how there is always someone there who is able to help here at GuyKat”,- says our Learning and Development Consultant Claire Kirkby-Webb.

If you want to learn more how GuyKat can help you implement Social Learning into your daily corporate life, please contact claire.kirkby-webb@guykat.com