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Blog: Building a social learning environment

Social learning environments allow people to learn collaboratively and interactively. The theory behind social learning is that people learn through observing others – from observing, imitating and modelling. Just think how much a child learns from watching their parents,

Humans have always managed to learn the skills needed for life, long before we had written language – we have always, for example, managed to learn and pass on the skills to set and maintain a fire for keeping warm and cooking food.

Learning from external stimuli such as books and schools is just one path of learning, and a social learning environment where we learn from one another is a much more ancient learning path.

The history of “Social Learning”

Albert Bandura’s “Social Learning Theory” suggests that people learn from each other by observing, imitating and modelling. Most human behaviour is learnt through modelling. Through watching others, a person learns how a new behaviour can be accomplished, and this information informs them, as a guide, when they try it out. Social learning explains human behaviour as a constant interaction between elements from the environment alongside cognitive and behavioural influences.

What do we need to build a social learning environment?

Here at Knowledge Point, we have the ability to create a social learning environment, where internal experts can share their knowledge to enable this share of expertise and the amelioration of everyone’s learning levels via collaborative social learning.

But what elements do you need to consider when developing a social learning environment? The primary factors to consider are: attention, retention, reproduction and motivation.


Elements such as complexity and distinctiveness amongst others can increase or decrease the amounts of attention paid by the learner. The personality of the individual can really affect the amount of attention paid.


This is all about the individual actually remembering what they paid attention to. This relies on mental imagery, cognitive organisation, coding and symbolic rehearsal.


Reproduction depends on the individual reproducing the image. This relies on both their physical capabilities and self-observation.


The individual has to have a good reason to imitate the behaviour. There are plenty of reasons that can lie behind the motivation, including past, promised and vicarious. Past suggests traditional behaviourism, promised entails imagined incentives, and vicarious is the observation of rewards and punishments. If you regularly reward a certain behaviour, it will be the one most likely to endure, and conversely, if you punish behaviour, it will be most likely to stop.

Building a social learning environment

Critical aspects to structure into your social learning environment are interaction and engagement. Social learning environments are the perfect environments to allow for this. Learners should be equipped with the tools to collaborate and participate both synchronously and asynchronously, providing a learning space they can drop in and out of to best suit them.

Online, a social learning environment can be created as a space in which individuals can co-create content and share their knowledge and learning. Social learning environments offer the benefits of social elements such as file sharing and networking to create a collaborative space and may be the perfect option for your workplace.

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