Saturday, 4 July 2009

Trendy Terms Alert (1)

From time to time I am going to blog about a current L&D ‘Trendy Term’. Each Trendy Term Alert (TTA) will consider whether the term has any mileage or whether it should be consigned to the trash can.

TTA: Social Learning

I have heard and seen the term ‘Social Learning’ more times than I’ve had hot dinners of late! So why the popularity?

I guess it has everything to do with Web 2.0 or e-Learning 2.0, where technology allows people to learn easily in a social environment by exchanging views, having discussions, using webinars, etc. But hasn’t this always been the case without technology? Think about seminars, tutorials and other face-to-face learning techniques. Apart from the dreaded and so often sterile lecture, learning with the involvement of others has been going on ad infinitum.

However, learning can only be an individual activity. Only I can learn something, you cannot learn it for me. So, in a sense, this particular TTA is an oxymoron. I can, of course, learn something by experience, without the help of or input from others. I can also learn from someone, like a teacher, tutor, trainer, coach or mentor, or even a blog, just as I can from being in a group with a number of people, without or with the assistance of technology.

So why is it important to stress or mention the ‘social learning’ dimension? To be honest, I haven’t a clue, unless it is to hype the use of certain types of technology – surely not!

Conclusion? Well, I think we should consign this particular TTA to the …


golookgoread said...

Lev Vygotsky applied Social Learning in very interesting ways. I think of him whenever I hear this term. I would be curious to know what he would have done with Social Media tools.

Judith Christian-Carter said...

Thanks very much for your comment. In the two years that have elapsed since I wrote this post, I have to say that I've changed my views somewhat, or more accurately, have come to understand the importance of using the term 'social learning' in order to place it on the learning agenda and to make people aware of its importance. Learning has always taken place socially but with social media tools I think we now have a significant paradigm shift.