December 18, 2022

Learning needs to be social

Written by

Robert Blaga


After nearly two years of researching, experimenting, and interviewing L&D experts, we’ve managed to filter out the noise and establish the core principles of effective online learning. To make it to the list, a core principle had to pass the following test:

  1. Is it supported by scientific research?
  2. Is the technology to build the core principle into an online application available?
  3. Can the L&D Manager and their team implement the principle with ease?

This series explores the six principles.

Principle 1: Learning needs to be social

It has always struck me as very strange that, while it is absolutely clear that we are social animals, we design e-learning for solitary use.

If each member of the homo sapiens species had to discover fire by themselves, we would’ve become extinct by now.

Learning is social, we learn from our interactions and conversations, from watching others work, and from teaming up to solve problems together with our colleagues.

The concept is, of course, not new and is well researched and documented, with clear benefits.

When people engage together in discussing and solving problems, learning becomes deeper and covers multiple aspects, not just cognitive:

  • stress levels decrease
  • social support increases
  • self-esteem gets a boost together with
  • engagement with the learning content increases

The add collaboration to learning, we’ve experimented with making solo learning impossible: you need a minimum of two people to start an e-learning session. Five is better, seven is acceptable, and one is pointless.

Every challenge you build on is automatically optimized for a team of learners, not a lone individual.

People have no choice but to engage and collaborate, as the training cannot be started or finished by only one person. Also, the complexity level and the mechanic is such that no single individual can solve the problem alone.

And because people work together to solve challenges, learning becomes more interesting, and desirability increases.

Which is the next principle: Learning needs to be desirable.

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