POLL: How Would You Define Social Learning

I recently read a couple of books on social media and learning.  The subject fascinates me and not just because I’m a trainer.  I believe bringing social media into the learning process could be very engaging for participants.

In the first book, The New Social Learning by Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner, they define social learning as “learning with and from others.”  And they specifically point out it’s not a delivery system like e-Learning or m-Learning.  The second book was Social Media for Trainers by Jane Bozarth and it outlines activities you can incorporate into your training via Twitter, Facebook, Wikis, etc.

I believe the conversation about social learning is new enough, so it’s important to establish some common ground where the definition of social learning is concerned.  Social learning can’t be “learning from others” in one person’s vocabulary and “learning via Twitter” in another.  Well, it can…but it certainly doesn’t help the training profession if everyone’s not on the same page.

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed reading both books and thought they both bring valuable information to the discussion.  But if we want companies to embrace using social learning, they have to be clear about what it is.  It has to be easy to explain.

So, let me ask you…if I told you I wanted to incorporate social learning into your next training program, what would you expect:


If you think social learning is something else altogether, please share your thoughts in the comments.  Thanks for taking the poll!


  1. Nancy Rubin says

    Jane Hart, a member of the Internet Time Alliance, just formed a social learning community on Yammer. If you are interested, send me an email and I will forward you an invite. I think you’ll find the conversations interesting.

  2. says

    That is exactly what we are doing in calgary at Freechrppoints.blogspot.com and using a blog to set the schedule and let people register. We also have a linked in group for information on sessions.

  3. Kristin says

    Social Learning! I had no idea this was out there if social learning is in fact learning on social media sites. Social media is definitely the new thing and all companies are starting to use some sort of social media to advertise their business, but I had no idea there was learning involved. I try not to be surprised anymore. We are going to see lots of changes in the next few years. I wonder what sort of things will be around when my kids are older.

  4. says

    Thanks everyone for the comments! I’m very excited about this new subject and what it can potentially bring to the training environment. Looking forward to seeing more discussion about it in the future…

  5. says

    Nice post. In his 2010 HBR article, What’s your personal social media strategy?, Soumitra Dutta states, “Today’s leaders must embrace social media for three reasons. First, they provide a low cost platform on which to build your personal brand… second; they allow you to engage rapidly and simultaneously with peers, employees, customers, and the broader public. Third, they give you an opportunity to learn from instant information and unvarnished feedback.”

    In my article ‘Getting Social with Social Media’ (http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/24/work-smart-getting-social-with-social-media.html), i’ve listed the below 4 points.

    1. Begin with a purpose in mind
    2. Court the right attention
    3. Influence others to take action
    4. Listen to your audience

  6. says

    It all depends on context. “Social” as it relates to any sort of web interface means Twitter, Facebook, etc. In the context of learning, the term social never appeared to me before the idea of learning using social media tools. So that’s how I came to define “social learning” or “learning socially.” When I speak about “learning with and from others” in a general sense, I may refer to it as “collaborative learning.” For me, this means learning together with or without the involvment of social media tools. Then there is “social collaboration,” which means working together using social media tools.
    Chris Arnst recently posted..10 ideas for using social collaboration to enhance employee training