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Social learning

Community or collaboration?

These are two buzzword in learning design, but for good reason.

Readiness to Learn

Learning as an adult can be challenging emotionally. We know that adult learners often have ‘imposter syndrome’, especially when they return to learning after a gap while they work, raise a family, travel etc. We also know that learners who feel ‘this is for me’ are more likely to succeed. When we introduce learners to peers who are like them, they feel validated in their decision to take part in the learning experience and are more likely to participate.

So, from the very start of the learning experience, the community is essential to success.


The latest theories of learning, based on cognitive science, point to the importance of articulation in learning. Learning happens as we express our ideas or understanding. This can be through written communication, verbal discussions or even drawing.

Developing a community

‘Collaboration’ has surpassed ‘community’ as a buzzword, but the two are interwoven when we develop learning. Its hard to collaborate with a crowd and a community doesn’t happen simply by putting a crowd of people in proximity with eachother  - in the real world or in the virtual world.

A community has a shared purpose and the members communicate with eachother and have a sense of common identity.

To develop a learning community we have to start by forming small groups through collaborative activities. Once these small groups are formed the learners have the confidence to expand their social connections, so then we link those small groups up into larger groups until we have expanded to encompass all the learners into a coherent, active community.

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