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The 7 Types of Online Social Learning Tools

August 13, 2020

Written by Michael Leitner.

Digital tools support what we call social learning or group learning. This concise entry differentiates between the 2 main approaches taken by modern social learning - cooperative & collaborative. Further on, we touch upon the 7 most popular techniques and platforms in use today which can be used for any 1 or both of these.

In case you have a basic understanding of this topic and want to dig deeper, we have a factsheet for you which explains these concepts in greater detail while arming you with over 20 of the best social learning tools for your next group learning course. Get your copy free of cost from here.

Learning is not at all a solo activity. Think about the situations in which you have learned with or from others: at school, university or at work. Situations in which several people are learning something together is referred to as ‘social learning’ or ‘group learning’.

In other words, learning is not merely the result of an individual’s reactions to their environment: It also results from observing the behaviour of other people, learning from them and talking to them.

The two most important didactic approaches in this respect are cooperative learning and collaborative learning:

In cooperative learning, each member of a group takes on part of the given task, with all the sub-tasks combined at the end to produce a shared result. It is useful to assign individual roles within the group, e.g. facilitator, timekeeper, minute-taker, etc., for this kind of joint approach to solving tasks work.

In contrast to cooperative learning, collaborative learning enables the solution to be developed jointly, with all members of a group contributing their knowledge and skills every step of the way. Effective communication is the most important element of this form of combined learning.

Following are the 7 popular techniques and platforms which support online cooperative and collaborative learning approaches:

  1. Wikis or learning blogs: Used for collective research, writing summaries, recording results, or versioning jointly created content.
  2. Presentations, infographics: For capturing ideas, visualising results for everyone, acquiring knowledge, or achieving a common level of understanding.
  3. Mind maps, word clouds: For collecting & evaluating ideas, and thinking outside the box.
  4. Webinars, video conferences, chats: For live communication, social interaction, discussions, coordinating tasks and meetings.
  5. Quizzes, surveys, tests: For opinion surveys, comparing with others, or making comparisons with accurate results.
  6. Games, puzzles: For increasing motivation, solving problems collaboratively, or pursuing a common goal.
  7. Social networks, learning groups, forums: For group synergies, learning dynamics, discussing specific topics, or joint tasks.

It might not always be optimal to use social learning platforms in every user situation (in some cases, a decline in learning performance may be observed because of the reliance on other group members), but for the most part, social learning is a very popular mode of learning in today’s rapidly evolving environment. It is important for teachers and trainers to evaluate situations before every project: whether to go with collaborative learning, cooperative or not at all.

This free factsheet explores this topic further by describing which of the above techniques are best for collaborative or cooperative learning, pros and cons of each approach, and over 20 of the best tools you can use for every social learning technique. Get your copy now and plan your next group training module with confidence.

Michael Leitner is part of Learn Tomorrow. With cBook, Learn Tomorrow aims to create eLearning-authoring tools that help virtually distributed teams to collaborate throughout the eLearning production process.

Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash - Thanks!

Learn Tomorrow is an eLearning technology provider. cBook is an integrated Learning Experience Platform (LXP) aiming to create digital learning experiences with impact. Tailored to the needs of businesses, academies & trainers.

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