Social learning theories basically state the learners create their own understanding through social learning experiences with others and creating artifacts that demonstrate learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). One way to incorporate social learning experiences in a classroom is through cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is where students interact with each other in such a way that they obtain more knowledge working with each other than on their own (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Along with cooperative learning is collaboration. The difference between these two social learning strategies is that in cooperative learning, each students is responsible for group work and individual contribution to the group. In collaboration, students just work for the group (Orey, 2001). With either strategy, students fundamentally have an opportunity to work with each other in social learning communities.
I believe when students work in cooperative learning groups, they are more able to process and understand information. By working together, students are able to use each other’s talents and brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other. It goes back to the old saying, “Two heads are better than one.” I completely believe cooperative learning exemplifies this. I group my students into pods and they often reflection, discuss, and work with each other throughout the day in their pods or in partners. With technology, students are now able to cooperate with individuals outside of their classroom. Students can talk to people all around the world with free digital tools such as Skype. I also love the idea of keypals and giving students the opportunity to work with and get to know others around the world. What a powerful way for students to begin to see how we are truly a world community. Even within the classroom, students can use digital tools, such as Google Docs, to create projects together, but not necessarily on the same computer or at the same time. There are dozens of ways students can be part of an online cooperative environment. These are just some ways in which cooperative learning can incorporate social learning into the classroom.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.