Social learning has around since the 1970’s when Albert Bandura suggested that learning is a social activity. Social learning theory postulates that learning occurs when students observe behaviors and mimic them. This includes the observation of rewards and punishments for behaviors. When harnessing this theory to effect change in the classroom, teachers can use social media to create a wider conversation and include other influential players. If used correctly, social media can be a real asset when teaching through social learning.
As parents you have already experienced social learning as your young students mimic your behavior and learn from your actions. Now with social media, you can augment the social learning opportunities at home and in the classroom by introducing your students to a wider audience of influencers.
What this means is that our educators and tutors are still mentors and models, but they are required to relinquish some of their authority to the community of learners as students learn from each other. With social media, this community is not restricted to the students in the classroom, but can also include students from around the world and all the resources that the Internet makes available. Now we have an entire network of teachers, tutors and learners all contributing to our body of knowledge and sharing their experiences.
While social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can provide a wealth of learning opportunities, they can also serve as distractions that eat up an enormous amount of time without contributing anything to your student’s body of knowledge. This means that social media can be a blessing or a curse and needs to be managed effective to achieve the desired results. Teachers and tutors need to outline lesson plans, goals and guidelines to direct social media actions and continually enforce these guidelines to add a structure to social media interactions. Social media is a wonderful tool to use in social learning, but it must be structured in order to be effective.
Students learn more when there is a human connection to their content. This means that they are more likely to remember an exciting video on a lab experiment than if they read the experiment in a text book. Social media makes this possible as students can watch videos of scientific experiments on YouTube and discuss them with other students in forum portals.
Social media also caters for all learning styles thanks to its multi-media capabilities. Students can talk to other learners, tutors and teachers, read blogs, watch videos and study graphics. No matter what kind of style your student responds to, they are bound to find the information they are looking for in a format they like. Social media also caters to students with different learning speeds. The faster they learn, the more there is for them to discover. Students who work quickly have an endless wealth of resources to explore on the internet.
Social media gives active learners the opportunity to explore and discover. They can work as fast or as slowly as they like and interact with their community and with the information in a format that suits them best.