Social learning has been getting a lot of attention lately, but it’s actually been around since the 1970’s when Albert Bandura suggested that learning is a social activity. 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. What social learning suggests is that students learn through observing the behavior of others. This can either alter their own behavior or they can learn lessons cognitively without changing behavior. Either way, the learned behavior is reinforced when it produces the desired effects.
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 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 carefully to achieve the desired results.
This means that teachers and tutors need to outline lesson plans, goals and guidelines to direct social media actions. 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 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 of 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.