Do you think that social learning can really work in a virtual classroom? Of course, it will! Learning has evolved significantly. If people are now more open to learning online, you can bet that it will be easier for them to understand the possibility of having a social experience despite learning in the digital world. According to the observation derived from the launch of the HBX, the online engagement in learning is very high and there is an 85% completion rate. Social interaction is important in learning and this is not absent in elearning. Students are still able to form study groups and meet up even if the main form of learning is done online.
So what does this mean? It points to the huge potential of social learning. Even if it is hard to physically meet, social learning online can suffice to make engagement and interaction possible.
However, you have to know when it is appropriate to use it. Otherwise, it might end up being a distraction in the virtual classroom.
When should you use social learning?
Obviously, social learning makes sense if there is a need to collaborate. For instance, if there is a need for collaborative projects, then social learning is the right strategy to pursue. The same is true for a group discussion. Whether that discussion is a simple sharing or knowledge or a more engaging debate of thoughts, social learning is the best form to follow.
There are other learning requirements that may not be obvious but are better suited for a social learning platform. Take for instance coaching and mentoring. It is not always required that it is a one-on-one session. Mentoring can happen as a group.
Of course, knowing when to use social learning in the virtual classroom is one thing. Finding out how to do it is another.
How to incorporate social learning effectively.
There are a couple of techniques to make sure that you can use social learning well in elearning.
First of all, you have to create a buzz about the use of social learning. Maybe include it in the outline at the beginning of the course. That is the most straightforward way to do it. That way, the elearning participants will know what to expect.
You might also want to assign someone from the virtual classroom to help you manage the social learning part. This will make them feel more involved. It will leave you with more time to observe and lead the class to where you want them to go. Discussions can be directed where they have to go.
Apart from managing the social learning, it is also right that you include the others. Give them assignments – e.g. heading the interactions, managing the posts, etc. The more people involved, the more engaging it will all be. Most of them will not just be thinking about the discussion. Since they are more involved in what happens behind-the-scenes, they are more motivated to participate.
As you are doing this, you need to keep an eye out of the technology side of things. You should make sure that the platform you are using is accessible to the participants. There should also be a system in place for updates and additional information.
With a little planning and some preparation, it should be easy to use social learning in a virtual classroom – and be successful at it.