What Is Social Learning?

How To Use Social Learning In Your Organization
Summary: Social learning is learning with others and from others. It is a must-have learning methodology for organizations looking to train their employees better.

Social Learning: Learn Why It Is Valuable

As the name suggests, social learning is simply learning with and from others. Social learning occurs when individuals learn through interaction with other individuals, whether directly or indirectly. For example, individuals learning through face-to-face interaction with another individual is social learning through direct contact. Similarly, interactions between individuals on social media are indirect contact. Social learning as a learning methodology is derived from the social learning theory, which can be summarized in the following points:

  • Learning is a cognitive process that takes place better in a social context. Human beings inherently prefer to learn in a social setting (in groups) because they learn better that way.
  • It is the interchange of knowledge and perspective between two individuals that creates new knowledge that is personal to each learner.
  • Learning occurs by observing behavior as well as observing the consequence of that behavior in other individuals. This is known as vicarious reinforcement.
  • Learning involves observation of behaviors, extraction of information from observed behavior, and making decisions about the performance of those behaviors (whether or not to replicate that behavior). This is known as modeling or observational learning and can occur even without any observable changes in the behavior.
  • Reinforcement is important for learning, but learning is not entirely responsible for reinforcement.
  • Learners are not passive recipients of information, they both receive and send information; cognition, environment, and behavior all mutually influence each other during this sending and receiving of information.

Why Use Social Learning In Digital Learning?

Social learning can be used (and is used by a number of organizations) in the context of digital learning through the features of social media. Communication and collaboration features in any social media like comments, posts, instant messaging, group discussion boards, wikis, video chats, and so on can be used to help employees in an organization communicate and learn with and from each other. These features can also be adopted in the organization’s LMSs (Learning Management Systems) as well as learning apps or portals to increase social learning. This is how to use the indirect contact method of social learning through digital learning in your organization. Another way would be to hold online classes where an expert discusses a subject, skill, or topic with learners through smartphones or laptops, (i.e., a webinar). Let’s have a look at some more ways to use social learning in your organization.

How To Use Social Learning In Your Organization

Other than the primary ways mentioned above, there are some other ways you can create social interactions in your L&D (Learning and Development) program and take advantage of social learning. Let’s have a look:

  • Encourage your learners to interact with each other, both face-to-face and through video-conferencing apps like Skype and GoToMeeting. Also, create forums and groups on various sites and social media portals where they can discuss ideas about learning and share knowledge.
  • Competing with each other is a social interaction that engages and motivates individuals like nothing else. And when individuals are having fun, they learn better. Adding gamification in your digital learning courses by using leaderboards with point systems and announcing rewards for weekly, monthly, and yearly toppers, along with other game elements like team-play, health, badges, timers, and power-ups will ensure healthy competition within your L&D program and boost learning.
  • Build a Q&A feature into your learning app or LMS. Allow learners to post questions that will be answered by the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), the L&D department, or stakeholders of the organization. Also, collect the most frequently asked questions to build a microlearning bit like an interactive PDF or infographic and deliver it to all learners on their mobile phones.


Social learning is a must-have learning methodology for organizations looking to train their employees better. It has manifold benefits and is based on the 70:20:10 model which says that 70% of all we learn comes from observing others, 20% from interacting with others, and the remaining 10% from consuming content. Thus, social learning is the most natural way of learning. Follow the above-mentioned points to include social learning in your organization and train your employees to be better learners as well as more socially-able and tech-savvy in this information and technology age we live in.

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