Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

Social learning theories deal with the idea of students "actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others." (Laureate Education 2009). In social learning theories, students work together to discuss ideas and problems. The teacher takes the role of a facilitator who encourages students and helps as needed, but does not provide all of the information. Every student has a "zone of proximal development" (Laureate Education 2009), or a level at which the child is able to learn at any given time. When a teacher challenges a students to go above this level, the student needs someone more knowledgeable than he is. This person can be another student or the teacher, but someone can guide the student to higher levels of learning. The student interacts with others in order to accomplish a task or learn a new concept.

Students construct knowledge based on their context and culture. These are vital aspects to understanding the world around them. Social learning theories build on this idea to allow students to work together in collaboration for the purpose of learning. 

"Today's students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively." (Pitler 2007). One instructional strategy that supports social learning theories is the idea of cooperative learning. Cooperative learning allows students to work together in many different ways. Groups support one another and share information. Students can use technology to incorporate new knowledge. Working together helps students to learn in new ways. Students benefit from one another's strengths. Instructional strategies that emphasize cooperative group work relate to social learning theories.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009a). Program eight Social Learning Theories [Motion picture]. Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Ginger

    You are so right that our students will need the skills to be able to collaborate with others. I try to incorporate as much cooperative learning into my classes as I can. Students really seem to not only enjoy group work, but they also come away with a deeper understanding from projects done with team members. Since this replicates what they will need to do on the job in their personal lives in the future, it only makes sense that we offer these experiences to them now. Adding in technology makes the activity even more relevant.

  2. I couldn't agree more that students should work in groups if they want to learn at a higher level. Students give others ideas that are not thought of unless cooperative learning is going on. Interaction with others in the group is not only good for learning, but social skills as well. It will give a shy student more experience talking with others in the group and learning will occur at the same time. Students seem to like to work with others rather than get lectured and drill. I find nothing wrong with this as long as the work that I have given them gets done.

  3. I agree that cooperative learning offers so many different ways to learn. In my opinion the main difference of cooperative learning than any other learning is that the students get to use a whole different part of their brain. It is not a direct instruction approach where students memorize data and try to over many repetitions finally begin to understand the material. Instead it is where the students have the opportunity to discover the concepts themselves and then after they understand have the opportunity to teach others. As it was mention by Dr. Orey, "the jigsaw strategy is where every member of a collaborative team is responsible for learning info and teching it to teamates"(Laureate Education, 2009).


    Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009) Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology. Baltimore: Author.