I’d be really appreciative of some help here.  I’m currently looking in detail at social learning and am becoming more and more confused!


I began by looking at social learning theory as defined by Albert Bandura (and others) and totally understand the issues described.  Where I’m less convinced (hence my confusion) is how social learning (which from my reading requires the acts of observation, imitation and reinforcement) can be conducted via social media when there is not necessarily a face-to-face interaction and therefore limited opportunities for observation, imitation and reinforcement.


I’ve read a number of books, articles and blogs on the subject and still don’t get the link.  From what I’m seeing, the term “social learning” has been adopted through convenience rather than through the true effect of learning socially.  I’ve even seen some well known commentators suggest that social learning is the wrong description and that the term network learning is more appropriate – something I’d wholeheartedly agree with.


I hasten to add this quest is not about using or finding the ‘right’ term; I just don’t fully understand how social learning truly takes place via the internet.  Sharing information, yes, but true social learning – I’m not sure.


Oh, and I have read “The New Social Learning” by Bingham and Conner and no I don’t agree with their description of what social learning is!


So, if anyone can (politely) point me in the right direction then I’d be really grateful.


Thanks in advance.



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You'll find my take on social learning here http://c4lpt.co.uk/handbook/

Thanks for this Jane. 


As I'm researching a very specific area rather than looking for "everything associated with Social Learning" are you able to point me at specific websites or blogs which clearly demonstrate how social learning (observation, imitation and reinforcement) can be conducted via social media when there is not necessarily a face-to-face interaction and therefore limited opportunities for observation, imitation and reinforcement? 


I'm very happy with the whole tools and technology issues and indeed the benefits of sharing and collaboration that these bring; I just can't seem to find the true link between social media and social learning theory.


As I mentioned, I've read the Bingham and Conner book which to be honest skirted over the whole issues of the digitisation of social learning theory in less than a single page.  I'd already taken a look at the contents of your book before posting the original question as I couldn't see that this specific area was covered in detail.  If it is then perhaps I'll buy a copy.


I appreciate this is a fine line, however I just can't see a true and clear link between social learning (as it's called by many) and social learning theory.


It would be great if you could prove me wrong!


Thanks in advance.






Hi Jonathan, I asked my colleagues in the Internet Time Alliance - http://internettimealliance.com/  - for their thoughts, and Harold Jarche sent me this link, which might be of interest: http://www.thesmartworkcompany.com/2010/02/bandura-and-social-cogni...



Thanks again for this Jane,


I've already taken in Bandura as part of my initial research (amongst many others) but am still searching for the link that shows how social learning (observation, imitation and reinforcement) can or is conducted directly via social media.


I feel I'm getting closer to some of the answers but boy are they hard to come by!


BTW, I ordered your book yesterday and look forward to reading it soon.


Thanks again.



In this video Bandura explains how his theory has been used to create telenovellas and radio series to bring about behavioural change in India, some African and South American countries - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjIbKaSXM3A


Although this is not exactly 'new social media', you may be able to extrapolate underlying principles (contrast models, vicarious motivators, personal relevance, aspirational linkage and environmental support - Bandura explains these in the video) used in these experiments to recreate similar learning experiences for new media. E.g. an online animated telenovella-like series that has a conversations platform where learners can participate.


As I understand, Bandura focuses on social learning for behavioural change (observe, imitate, reinforce). If however, you are also interested in implementing social learning for gaining knowledge, you may like to refer to George Siemens work - http://www.connectivism.ca/ and http://cck11.mooc.ca/


Hope this is useful.


- Atul



Thanks so much for your comprehensive response and the great resources.  I took a sneak peek last night (not easy on a shared hotel WiFi) and they look teriffic.  I will certainly be kept very busy over the next few days!


Thaks again.





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