There have been many theories over the years that have tried to explain how new behaviors are learned. The social learning theory is one of them and focuses on the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes and emotional reactions of others. As children, we tend to look up to someone of the same gender and try to imitate their behavior. This person may be a parent, sibling, teacher, or even a character on television. From imitating the behavior of this person we learn what is appropriate in society versus what is not.
According to Albert Bandura, who is known for originating this theory, there are three different models that are important to how we learn new behaviors which include:
- Live model
- Verbal instruction
The first step is Attention. In order for us to learn something, we must pay attention to the person who is modeling the behavior. Social learning extends the process beyond the classroom and connects learners to each other. In the social learning modules of an LMS, instant updates, notifications and information are available. They grab the attention of learners and draw them into the learning environment.
The next step is Retention. We must remember details of the behavior in order to learn and reenact that behavior later on. Social learning allows learners to become involved in the process by contributing to the online conversations about the topics, which, in turn, increases their retention.
The next step of the social learning process is Reproduction. When reproducing a behavior we must be able to organize our response step by step in accordance with the behavior that was modeled. This step can be improved over time and with a little practice. Social learning helps in this aspect because users can share and repost things they learn, as well as add information to others’ posts to make the information more robust.
The final step is Motivation. We must have an incentive or reason that drives us to reproduce the behavior. Many companies have adopted using badges, trophies or other means of online notifications to show that users are experts on different topics. This is a great way to motivate learners to learn more and to share their knowledge with others.
So how can an LMS help with social learning? An LMS can foster formal and informal collaboration, such as virtual workspaces. It extends social learning outside of the classroom, and allows for open as well as private interactions between users around the world. And, since individuals can communicate with others worldwide, it also gives individuals the opportunity to learn new behaviors from each other, from chats, discussions, blogs, and more. An LMS also helps manage these online chats and discussions, and tracks how well individuals are doing.