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Reflections on Social Learning

by on July 30, 2011

“Prior to the Internet, the last technology that had any real effect on the way people sat down and talked together was the table.” Clay Shirky

I’ve been reading Tony Bingham’s The New Social Learning. He describes the new social learning as “at its most basic level, new social learning can result in people becoming more informed, gaining a wider perspective, and being able to make better decisions by engaging with others. It acknowledges that learning happens with and through other people, as a matter of participating in a community, not just by acquiring knowledge.” He says that social learning “happens using social media tools and through extended access and conversations with all our connections – in our workplaces, our communities, and online. It happens when we keep the conversation going on a blog rich with comments, through coaching and mentoring, and even at the gym during a workout.” To illustrate the power of this social learning, Bingham asks us to think of five peopl we communicate with, and then three things that we have learned from them. Most people recall this kind of learning more readily than any formal education. He proposes that “training often gives people solutions to problems easily solved. Collaboration addresses challenges that no one has overcome before.” This type of new social learning is comparable to the social capital created by a barn-raising in past times.

Alice Boyd


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