Social Learning, Blended Learning & Instructional Design

Social learningAlbert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory indicates that people learn from one another. They accomplish this through techniques such as observation and modeling. With the recent influx of companies incorporating eLearning techniques, what happens to the Theory of Social Learning? Does eLearning mean that Social Learning is no longer important? Social Learning is still a vital aspect of learning and that it can be fully incorporated into the eLearning environment. This is true for adults in a corporate training setting as well as for young students, even those with special needs such as autism.

Blended Learning

One of the many advantages of eLearning is the ability to incorporate a blended learning approach to training. This means that you don’t always have to have an instructor standing in front of the classroom delivering content to students. You also don’t have to entirely rely on multiple choices questions and PowerPoint presentations for your electronic training options.

When you use a blended learning approach to training, you are utilizing aspects of Social Learning Theory. You can show videos of individuals performing job related tasks and then have your users answer questions about what went well and what didn’t go well in the scenario. In addition to video, you can incorporate audio recordings as well depending on your material and training objectives.

Another option is to pull movie clips that demonstrate the issue you want your learners to see. Show a brief segment of the movie (following all copyright laws of course) and follow it up with interactive activities where students discuss the scenario. You can have them do this independently, learning from the actors in the movie along with their own self reflection, or you can set up a chat board or other electronic media where they can discuss their perspectives with each other.

Lastly, you can build branching courses that take users in whatever direction they decide to go based on how they respond to situations within the training. Even arriving at the wrong destination through a series of incorrect answers results in a learning experience. Students have the opportunity to retrace their steps and find their mistake, hopefully eventually ending up in the right place. It works. Students learn just as much from doing things wrong as they do by doing them right.

Social Learning & Instructional Design

Social Learning is viewed as “a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation.” There’s no doubt that students learn from one another and eLearning doesn’t have to be a roadblock for this learning to take place. It is simply one more tool in a good instructional designer’s tool chest that should be considered while developing quality eLearning content.