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
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.