The Impact Of Social Intelligence In eLearning

The Impact Of Social Intelligence In eLearning
Summary: Solving complex mathematical equations or creating a written work of art may be a breeze for the most brilliant minds among us, but navigating social situations present an entirely different challenge. Although IQ is often associated with academic progress, social intelligence is a key element in a comprehensive education. In this article, I'll take a closer look at the impact of Social Intelligence in the realm of eLearning.

Social Intelligence In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Need To Know

Genetics is often linked to IQ, but social intelligence is a skill developed over time, learning from life experiences and interactions with others. Edward Thorndike introduced the idea of interpersonal intelligence, or social intelligence, to the world in the 1920's as part of his multiple intelligences theory. It pertains to a person's ability to connect with those around them and make pivotal decisions that impact our lives on a daily basis. Social Intelligence in eLearning can help learners to better understand human psychology, behavior, and communication, which opens up a world of opportunities in and out of the online learning environment.

Dimensions Of Learners’ Intelligence

According to Karl Albrecht, humans have six dimensions of intelligence that should be considered when developing eLearning experiences. Even if you plan on focusing on social intelligence in your next eLearning course, there are other forms of learners’ intelligence you should also take into consideration.

  1. Abstract.
    Logical reasoning, verbal manipulation, and mathematical concepts all fall into the abstract category. This is the type of intelligence that often comes to mind when you think of online learning, or any educational experience for that matter.
  2. Social.
    How well we can interact with others in social situations, especially when those around us are from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds. This deals with communication and teamwork skills.
  3. Practical.
    Our ability to tackle challenges and take action in order to get the job done. Practical intelligence typically involves “common sense” and critical thinking skills, as well as figuring out how to use all of the tools in our arsenal to solve the problem.
  4. Emotional.
    Self-awareness and emotional recognition are two important aspects of emotional intelligence. It also involves regulating emotions and reacting to others’ emotions in a respectful manner.
  5. Aesthetic.
    This is one of the more creative intelligence types, as it pertains to design and form. An individual who possesses aesthetic intelligence has an “eye” for art and can determine if individual elements of the design will fit into the overall theme of the work.
  6. Kinesthetic.
    This is the mastery of the entire body and knowing the role that each part must play in order to carry out a specific task. Athletes and high-level professionals, such as surgeons and pilots, are examples of kinesthetically intelligent people.

How Social Intelligence Affects eLearning

To fully understand how social intelligence affects eLearning, we must delve into the main aspects of Social Intelligence, which are included in the “SPACE” formula. SPACE is a collection of behaviors that are divided into five distinct skill sets: situational awareness, presence, authenticity, clarity, and empathy. By integrating these into your eLearning course, you have the opportunity to develop a learner’s social skills and cultivate social intelligence.

  1. Situational Awareness.
    This skill refers to a learner’s ability to understand the dynamics of a situation, including how the situation itself impacts the behaviors and thoughts of those involved. For example, if a learner finds themselves in a stressful situation, they should be able to comprehend that tension and anxiety may be negatively affecting those in the group. As such, they can take measures to minimize stress in order to boost productivity. Role-playing and group collaboration projects are ideal situational awareness exercises. Give learners a task or problem and ask them to solve it together. This gives them the chance to see group dynamics firsthand and how social situations impact the behaviors and thoughts of each member.
  2. Presence.
    A person’s presence is the overall impression they give to others. This may involve their appearance, attitude, behavior, body language, or any other indicator of their personality. One of the most visual and powerful ways to emphasize the significance of presence is the “first-impression” exercise. Create an interactive presentation that features a number of different characters, each with subtle nuances or traits that portray a certain image. For example, one character might be slouching and wearing shabby clothing. Ask your learners to give their first impressions of the character based upon that initial image. Then reveal the “truth” behind the character, such as a brief bio that might surprise your audience. This will show your learners just how important presence is, and encourage them to examine every aspect of a person’s presence before making a judgment.
  3. Authenticity.
    This is all a matter of “talking the talk and walking the walk”. Learners can act one way, but may lack the authenticity that it takes to possess true social intelligence. Others must perceive them as being honest, ethical, and genuine. They must also be able to see that someone’s actions are in-line with those perceptions. To cover this aspect of social intelligence in eLearning you can develop reflective online exercises that encourage learners to think about their thoughts and beliefs versus their behaviors. Ask thought provoking questions that prompt them to challenge their assumptions of themselves or societal norms. Get them thinking so that they are able to determine if their actions truly support their personal ideologies.
  4. Clarity.
    Clarity is all about articulation and communication skills. Can the learner concisely stare their ideas and get their point across in a diverse range of social situations? This also involves active listening and language skills. This can be practiced in a variety of different ways in eLearning environments, from blog creation projects wherein learners must paraphrase key topics to presenting virtual lectures to their peers. Clarity requires learners to not only know the information, but be able to share their knowledge with others effectively.
  5. Empathy.
    Connecting with people and being able to understand and respect their motions are the main elements of empathy. Any group collaboration activities are ideally suited for empathy building, as they require learners to work with others productively in order to achieve a learning goal. During the activities, encourage learners to share their viewpoints and identify commonalities that they share. Have them pay close attention the group dynamics, as well as the feelings of others, so that they can cultivate their empathetic abilities.

Social Intelligence has a wide range of applications in eLearning design. However, before delving into a eLearning strategy that focuses solely on social intelligence, take a careful look at the types of intelligence mentioned above to see if any others can be integrated into your curriculum. This gives you the ability to offer a well-rounded eLearning experience that provides even more advantages to your online learners.

What is the theory of multiple intelligences and how it affects eLearning? In the article, Multiple Intelligences In eLearning: The Theory And Its Impact, your will find the key points you need to know about multiple intelligences in eLearning and how they can impact your eLearning course development and success.