Whether people realize it or not, social learning plays an intrinsic role in learning. People learn from observation, collaboration and through face-to-face interactions with other people. A person might define this style of learning as getting important feedback from other people. Some examples of this include speaking with a group of buddies during lunch hour or even the more complex methods of social learning like watching social media videos and reading blog articles on the net. Collaboration and social interaction have always led to improvement and learning in the lives of other people. It should come as no surprise that Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have all transformed modern society with its ever-ubiquitous presence. When CEOs and business executives apply the same to corporate training, social learning can send positive ripples throughout the business world. Never underestimate it as just comments, group discussion boards, video chats and instant messaging to corporate training because it can have a huge impact.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Learning

Social learning takes place in a social context, and it has plenty of distinct advantages compared to some of the other methods of learning. This style of learning enhances the experience of learning, and positive outcomes become more common. It can lead to increased chances of success, and CEOs might find how they have a positive ROI through this method of learning.

Corporate has turned to social learning because of how it empowers the learners to improve in all social respects. In some cases, the extra level of social learning keeps employees motivated to press forward with their learning efforts. Collaboration also inspires focus on a task, and it empowers employees to finish their tasks much faster. From a business standpoint, social learning facilitates the engagement of the learner, and it helps them to organize themselves among the learners.

Social learning does have a couple weaknesses. For example, it has never explained why some children can watch violent TV shows or play violent video games and not copy it, and in the corporate environment, this fact could mean employees don't learn as well. It seems to go against social learning theory. Another weakness is how undesirable models could come into play to model socially unacceptable play.

The Three Types of Social Learning

First, people have conversational knowledge with social learning. Considered the foundation of most social learning interactions, the biggest problem with this style of learning is how without the right level of social skills, some people may find it hard to engage in discussion with their peers. Many times adults forget to stop and listen to the others in the group. This can lead to a single person dominating the conversation with their ideas while some of the less outspoken in the group go unheard. For conversational social learning to work its best, the following are critical:

  • Remaining on topic
  • Appropriate comments during the conversation
  • Answering direct and indirect questions at the appropriate place and time

Second, people have non-verbal communication. This includes some of the important things like intonation, body language, stress and personal space concerns. Even eye-contact is an important element of social learning. During the training, employees will pick up on other behaviors and model themselves after others. For this reason, business executives should utilize this to their advantage. If they're not investing attention in non-verbal communication, the effects of it can mean employees model themselves after others you wouldn't want them modeling themselves after. To make the most out of non-verbal communication, individuals will have to:

  • Respond to eye contact (unless they're from another culture where it isn't appropriate)
  • Appropriate use of gestures to support the conversation
  • Express reactions without the use of dialogue
  • Displays active listening skills to follow-up on the conversation

Corporate Office Language

The corporate office language takes place on a level from the highest business executive to the employee who just started yesterday. The content in social learning with the corporate office language should always remain on topic. Employees should have an understanding of the situation-specific things. Employees should be able to adapt and fit their conversation patterns to the right model. Often the behavior might be modeled after the business executive or the CEO of the company. Without a working knowledge of the corporate office language, however, employees might be seen as inarticulate or rude if they don't have a working knowledge of corporate office language.

Some of the potential uses include:

  • Organize their thoughts for a lively discussion
  • Follow and give directions
  • Expresses thoughts in many ways
  • Use of the appropriate tone for the conversation
  • Asking effective questions at the right time

What Factors Lead to Social Learning's Success?

To have success with social learning in the corporate environment, an individual might adopt some of these measures. For example, advocate for the champions of this style of learning who will press for it. They will stir up motivation and create awareness and a buzz of popularity around it. An individual might also search for early success stories with it to keep the motivation strong for it. People can identify the people who have the talent and people skills for peer-to-peer training. They might leverage social media as a powerful tool that will keep everyone updated and informed about the subject, and it will also showcase how well the company integrates its social learning in the work environment.

Try to add a certain level of personalization with social learning because this element will engage employees, even more, when they can give descriptions of themselves and upload photos of what they're doing. Employees might even trigger or participate in a focused discussion where they can ask questions and clarify doubts they might have. Social learning offers employees the opportunity to become part of the collaborative work culture and feel like they belong to a meaning bigger than themselves.