Shifts in Social Learning

Published January 14, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

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A fundamental shift occurred in how people work as a result of social learning. This is due to the development of new strategies with respect to how we have always worked, and innovative tools designed to accelerate and broaden individual, as well as organizational reach. Social learning is exactly what it sounds like – learning with and from others. This occurs naturally at conferences and in group settings, as well as between old friends at a café, just as easily as it does in a classroom setting. We can experience social learning for instance, merely by walking down the hall to direct a question at a colleague or when we post the same question to someone that will respond.

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Social learning also provides people in every level of the organization, a way to reclaim their natural capacity to learn nonstop. It can help a physician navigate more safely; a sales person become more persuasive; and air traffic controllers keep up to date. At its most basic level, new social learning can occur when people become more informed, gaining a wider perspective, and able to make better decisions by engaging more closely with others. In short, social learning happens with and through other people, as a matter of participating in a group or community setting, not just by acquiring knowledge.

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Another way that social learning happens is by using social media tools and through extended access and conversations with various connections like workplaces, communities, and online for example. It also happens when we keep a conversation going on a social media outlets rich with comments, as well as through coaching and mentoring. It can even occur during a workout at the gym.


The fact is that most of what we learn, network and elsewhere, comes from engaging in groups where people co-create, collaborate, and share knowledge, fully participating in actively listening, driving and guiding the learning process through whatever topics to help with improvement. This kind of training often provides individuals solutions to challenges that have already been resolved and the collaboration process offers another way to address obstacles that no one has overcome before. In their book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning, Wick, et al. (2010), outline the following six principles as guides, to help develop the “breakthrough” learning process:

  1. Define outcomes
  2. Design the complete experience
  3. Deliver for application
  4. Drive learning transfer
  5. Deploy performance support
  6. Document results

These principles reveal a strategic importance to learning with organization, that can and should support the social learning process, and in turn, social learning provides another method of engaging education that can lead to improved performances with successful outcomes.

That’s it for now. Until next time … keep organized and never stop learning!


You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato


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Wick, C., Pollock, R., & Jefferson, A. (2010). The six disciplines of breakthrough learning. San Franciso, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

For more information on social learning visit:

2 comments on “Shifts in Social Learning

  • Mayr, Thanks for highlighting social learning in your post and quoting me at the end of your subsequent post. It would be great if you’d cite The New Social Learning at the end of this post, along with the Wick book, as there seems to be some overlap of ideas and this would give readers an opportunity to read more along these lines. I look forward to future posts too!


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