Social learning happens when we talk, discuss, and share; it is key when retaining new knowledge. In our digital era, there are plenty of ways to integrate social learning in organizations.   

Do you learn best on your own or along with other people?

Learning by yourself might seem more flexible, but social learning is still fundamental when we want to make knowledge stick. 

What is Social Learning?

Definition: Social learning is learning behavior controlled by environmental influences rather than internal forces. The father of social learning theory is Albert Bandura, and he says we learn by observing others, which he explored in his Bobo Doll experiments.

In other words, Social learning happens when you observe others but also when you discuss, talk, and share learnings with each other. And this has clear benefits.

If you engage in a group discussion, you can retain 50 percent of what you just learned, and if you teach it to someone else, you can retain 90 percent of the learning.

But social learning is so much more.

When you share and discuss learning, you may find new perspectives and learn even more.

When we talk about digital social learning tools, they can, for example, boost course completion. Harvard Business School's Online Education experienced course completion increasing to 85 percent when social learning was introduced.

Digital social learning is actually more common than you probably think and is a great benefit in modern employee development.

How to Integrate Digital Social Learning

In our everyday lives, we engage in digital social learning all the time. An example could be when we want to learn how to boil an egg correctly. What do you do? You turn to Google, Facebook or YouTube - of course.

Here, you watch a video another person uploaded on how to boil an egg, or you might share with your friends in a Facebook Messenger chat what you yourself think is the right time to boil an egg and see what they say is the right time.

Facebook itself is actually the key when looking at social learning in a digital learning organization.

Our ways of working have changed. We work more flexible hours, from home, and from separate locations. Everything moves in a more digital direction, and the classic social learning scenario, the discussion by the coffee maker, happens rarely.

Here, a Facebook-kind-of-platform comes in handy in a social learning context, because you still need the social part of learning, even though our ways of working change.

Remember the 70-20-10 model. Here, 20% of learning is when you engage in dialogue with your co-workers and learn more about the topic at hand.

Specific Channel or Group

Back to Facebook. Here, you probably have tons of groups and Messenger channels concerned with different topics with all kinds of people. If you take this and put into a corporate learning perspective, one way to do it could be creating a certain group or channel within your LMS (Learning Management System) or Learning Platform.

Maybe a new group of people start at the same time at your company, and in that channel/group they will be able to share their experiences and knowledge with one another.

In that way, they can talk, learn, and interact about the process and create a shared community - even though they are not sitting together.

From Facebook to Social Learning Wall

In Learningbank's platform, we use a social learning wall that we now call Feed. With the feed, you combine a push and pull strategy for your learning content.

Push learning is a top-down, management-driven approach that sends people to formal training events where they receive nice-to-know information—as in, it will be nice to know someday.

Pull learning is a learner-driven, bottom-up approach that enables people to access the information they need when and where it is needed.

The best thing is not to do one or the other but to combine both, and here, a social learning wall or a feed, is the answer. With a social learning wall within your learning platform you can both push the content, and employees can engage and talk about it at the same time (pull) - like they do on social media.

Social Learning - Sum-up

  • Social learning is when we talk, discuss, and share knowledge and learnings with each other
  • It is key to retain knowledge and a part of the 70-20-10 learning model in learning and development
  • In a digital context, you can create a specific channel or group to make people interact and build a shared community
  • Another tool to integrate digital social learning is by using a social learning wall or a feed, where administrators and users can push and engage with learning content