Social Learning: Effective, Efficient and Fun

Social learning is as prevalent as ever in today’s society with social sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest. Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook only to come across a BuzzFeed personality quiz that a friend of yours had posted? Have you ever typed in a “how-to” into the search bar of YouTube? Perhaps a “how-to tie a bow-tie?” or a “how-to wrap a gift professionally?” Have you ever gone to Pinterest to find a new recipe? The point is, social learning theory is inherent in our everyday lives. Someone else posted that quiz, or uploaded that instructional video, or type in that recipe. We are constantly looking to one another for advice, instruction, and whatever else we may want or need.

The social learning theory, originally formulated by Albert Bandura, is founded on the notion that people learn by observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. Tony Bingham, president and CEO of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), gives a more modern definition of social learning as “learning that happens outside a formal structure or classroom.” It centers on information sharing, collaboration and co-creation.

In today’s professional world, social learning is the exchange of tips, ideas, and best practices between colleagues. It’s the everyday trading of pointers to help everyone succeed.

The Three C’s of Social Learning

Confidence through Collaboration

Imagine you are sitting at your desk in your office and a colleague comes up and asks you a question that has some type of a step-by-step answer process. You will either know, or not. If you know it, you will give them an answer and if not, you will most likely ask another person that does. This whole process can be one of empowerment. The person who does know the answer will have to teach the person(s) asking how to do something. This person or persons will then go on to become the teacher in the future. In the end, everyone gains confidence and a sense of pride for having, one, the knowledge in the first place, and two, the ability to teach that knowledge.

Collaborative Content

Using Cloud services, any person at any time and from any device can share, view, and contribute to a project. People can bounce ideas off of one another and work to generate the best project possible. In an individual setting ideas can be lost in translation or even worse, never even heard. In a collaborative group effort, you can be assured that the final project is the best possible one your company could have created.


“Bubbler” talk is an extremely underrated occurrence in the workplace. It’s the interaction that occurs when people are grabbing a glass of water, or walking to the bathroom, or grabbing something in the shared kitchen/common space. This type of talk is invaluable because it often spurs new great ideas or ways to improve upon existing ideas/methods. This is something that is used in the argument against employees working from home. They miss opportunity to converse in an informal manner but with deep impact. Of course, services such as the Cloud are allowing for people to converse remotely. The only problem with that is that “bubbler” talk is spurred randomly, and conversing using Cloud services is intentional.

Social learning in the workplace promotes optimum performance. It is the dominating method of learning in a world that is increasingly looking to social media platforms for ideas, assurance, and advice.

Video can only work to enhance social learning by providing training videos that promote confidence, providing a channel for collaboration, and a platform for conversation!


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