Everything is better when doing it with a friend, especially learning. With more and more education being done remotely, people often wonder if kids are missing something without other students around. Spark Education is following up on our “Education & Innovation series” with “Social Learning Online” to give a better idea of how kids can learn from each other, even if they are miles apart.
Peer and social learning are powerful learning methodologies for understanding new educational concepts and learning more about the world and those in it. Can kids get the same benefits from working with others online, or is it something students can only do in person? Alex Vang, a Spark Education lead teacher, says yes. He shares that his students have no problem getting used to Spark Education’s online pod-sized classroom format and are “comfortable making a social interaction online.”
What is Social Learning?
Social learning is the idea that people can learn just by observing, imitating, and modeling others’ actions. Albert Bandura put forth this theory in his 1977 book “Social Learning Theory”. This might sound like a strange way to learn, but people start doing it as babies. Do you remember learning your first word or how to drink from your favorite sippy cup? Probably not. You learned these skills from seeing others do them and imitating their actions. People learn everything from speaking a language to learning a new sport just by watching the world around them. Social learning is one of the first ways we absorb knowledge. It helps develop intuition, solve problems, and become excited to learn more.
How does social learning happen in education?
Learning from those around you doesn’t stop when growing up. Kids and adults can learn by watching what others do to succeed, and even from their setbacks. Classrooms, both online and in-person, have a way for teachers and other students to show how problems can be solved. From a whiteboard to a video online, there are tons of ways students can learn by getting a visual guide on a subject.
While seeing work in action is a good way to learn, for it to be the most successful, it also must be engaging. Remember when we said everything is more fun when doing it with a friend? One of the main reasons that statement is true is that when people do projects or solve problems together, they become more engaged. Being engaged in a task makes people more likely to retain what they’ve learned from it and those they worked with.
What is Peer Learning?
Some people hate doing group projects in school. Learning with others might get frustrating at times, but with the right people, it can help you look at problems from new and exciting angles. When you get a new understanding of concepts and ideas from the people you are working or learning with, that is called peer learning.
Peer learning is great for the learner and the peer who is giving tips to their friend or classmate. For the person learning, they get a different view of how to solve a problem, one that might be easier for them than what a book or teacher explains. For the person teaching, it shows a deep understanding of a subject. When a student helps another understand a concept, they can see it from a new angle. When students work together to build new skills, it makes stronger students and supports teamwork. If someone can help others learn a new skill correctly, then they are on their way to becoming an expert on the subject.
How does peer learning happen in education?
While teachers work hard to help kids understand new knowledge, there are huge benefits from getting tips and new perspectives from fellow classmates. People might get help from the best player on their basketball team to learn ways to hit a three-pointer or search online for great education blogs for tips on math. Working with like-minded people and peers opens up a whole world of possibility.
Not only can learning with and from other people make it easier to learn, but it can help with confidence about education and school. If a student is struggling to learn a new skill by themselves, they might feel inadequate or anxious about a subject or school in general. When they have familiar people around them with the same struggles, they can feel comforted knowing that they aren’t alone. Students can come together and try to solve the problem as a team. Working with and learning from others builds bonds and support that are further reaching than just school. Learning how to work together for a common goal is needed in careers, families, and so much more.
Can Kids be Social Online?
For many parents, seeing their kids sitting playing “Fortnight” or “Call of Duty” with headphones on, doesn’t seem like the most social interaction. While playing games online might not feel like kids are being social, they are communicating with a team or peers to solve problems in real-time. In school, remote learning has helped kids get comfortable with communicating with each other about education. Note: With a reminder that it’s important to know who your children are talking to online, and set up parental controls on devices to keep them safe. Socializing online helps build connections and relationships that are a major part of life.
Through group video classes, chats, comments, and even memes, students find new and exciting ways to connect online than ever before. These new ways of connecting give more examples of ways students can learn from each other. Being able to openly communicate with other students and teachers in education is important to build a safe and open space where kids are able to thrive.
Social Learning Online, Peer Learning, and Spark Education!
Spark Education’s online courses are all about real teachers and students working together to learn and solve problems. With fun animations, gamified learning, real teachers, and small classes filled with passionate learners, Spark Education takes online social and peer learning to the next level. Our small online classes help students learn in a fun way while communicating and learning from each other. With experienced and vetted teachers leading the way, our online classes are a fun, effective, and safe way to build new skills. Each class is a new adventure for them to go on!
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