The Impact of Social Learning on Employees

While some knowledge can be acquired through solitary trial and error (think of the first cave-dweller who started a fire), most is passed on from person-to-person in one form or another.

Research proves the most effective learning takes place in a social environment. Interaction and collaboration with others and the observation of others improves knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. This is not new information because social learning has been going on since the dawn of civilization, although it didn’t necessarily have a name. However, when COVID triggered an enormous surge in virtual training protocols, companies had to find new ways to make that virtual learning as interactive and social as possible.

Thankfully, technology has stepped up to the challenge. Through platforms like Jigsaw Interactive, companies can now offer their employees social and activity-based learning opportunities in a virtual learning environment. These social training opportunities improve communication, enhance knowledge retention, and increase engagement.

Improve Communication

In the virtual instructor-led training (VILT) format, attendees can ask questions, participate in discussions, work together on small group projects and give opinions and feedback. Questions and interactive communication are vital to learning. According to TEAL (Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy), “Asking good questions is central to learning and sometimes can be more important than getting the answers.” Questions encourage the asker, the person being asked, and the listeners to think critically, and they can spark meaningful discussion. Compare this environment with on-demand training where participants simply read posted material and are left to their own devices. It’s easy to see which format has the potential to be more impactful.

Enhance Knowledge Retention

Studies have found six proven ways to retain new concepts and information, and two of them involve social interaction. In fact, the number one way to really cement something you’ve learned in your mind is to teach it to someone else, which is why breakout groups that are formed to discuss and practice covered material are invaluable.  While sitting and listening to a pre-recorded lecture or reading previously posted material makes it much harder to hold onto what you’ve read, so have you really learned it?

Increase Engagement

Social learning is engagement learning. It’s simply far more interesting that the alternative. It’s a lot easier to keep minds from wandering when you provide give-and-take, communication, interaction, and activities. “Engage” is a verb; it requires action, but reading and listening alone are passive activities. In order to really capture anybody’s interest, some kind of action is required. In terms of training, that “action” would take the form of speaking, questioning, discussing, role-playing, etc.