Best of the Blogs – Social Learning

Best Of The Blogs – Social Learning
The following is the second of my monthly “Best of the Blogs”. Here I will curate content from a range of posts, blogs, research articles and other sources. With Christmas and New Year celebrations in December, a very social time, I felt that this month’s pick should be on Social Learning.
Understanding Social Learning
Social Learning has become a bit of a L&D buzzword in recent times, but it is not a new concept. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory which was written nearly 40 years ago, describes how “behaviour is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning”. Based on this theory, social learning can be described as the process of learning with and from others. This can be through the observation of behaviours but also learning cognitively through discussions and solving of problems. It can happen online (through social media and collaborative learning tools) or offline (in the workplace, at networking meetups or group activities). Jane Hart also provides a further definition and introduces the term “Social Collaboration” to describe the social learning from working together to achieve business objectives. To understand social learning you should also consider some of the myths around it, which Helen Blunden dispels in her article “4 Myths of Social Learning“. In his article “Socially Acceptable” Clark Quinn clarifies what social learning is not, and what good social learning is.
Implementing Social Learning in the Workplace
Implementing social learning in the workplace will be an important aspect of professional learning and growth (for individuals, teams and organisations). As Harold Jarche explains in his article “new ideas will have to come from our professional networks in order to keep pace with innovation and change in our fields”. Asha Pandey’s article discusses how adopting social learning makes sense and how it will foster collaborative learning. Julian Stodd’s blog describes a way to implement social learning, through the use of a scaffolded social learning journey. This allows for a structured learning journey with conditions where social learning can thrive.
Making it a success
Social learning it is not simply about adding in some social media and other tools and hope people become social. This blog “Integrating Social Learning in the Workplace” discusses how one of the greatest challenges of social learning is not implementing it, but getting it integrated into the culture. Ben Betts discusses how the secret to making social learning a success is in the marketing. Helen Blunden also provides some details on 20 mistakes learning teams make about social learning.
Building a community
One aspect of social learning, is the development of communities to allow for the knowledge sharing to occur. Tanmay Vora provides some great advice on how to feed a community, including this great sketch note. Encourage people to Work Out Loud, which John Stepper talks about in this video. However, there are challenges and obstacles which are described in the article “Six Obstacles To Building Communities In Organisations
My final thoughts
Social learning is an essential element in the design of a learning journey. Consider how you can build it into any courses you are designing. When moving to more social learning, especially in the workplace where culture change is required, start small and move from there. Also consider what’s the future of social learning and how you can take advantage of it..

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