What Role Should "Social" Play in Learning?

Most people can remember completing a group project in school and for many people this experience doesn’t inspire fond memories. But research suggests social activities and collaboration are an integral part of learning.

Last month, ATD research released a study on how Comcast, a telecommunications corporation, applied social learning in employee training and development.

Get Social

According to the report, Comcast has been utilizing “a social learning platform that enables participants to collaborate and learn in a variety of innovative ways.”

“It is not only a tool for learning, but also for sharing of best practices,” Senior Program Manager Jennifer Lagana said in a release. “The virtual world format enables users to collaborate at any time and in many ways.”

The Study

Forty-five people participated in the program. They were divided into teams of four or five and were tasked with spending two hours each week on team-based assignments through the online social platform. The customized social platform website used in the learning program was similar to sites like Facebook. From it, users could access various features of the learning program, such as guides, tutorials, discussion groups, postings, and assignments.

Throughout the program, participants were asked to contribute informal video reflections about leadership concepts uploaded from their smartphones, laptops or tablets. This mirrors the kind of video posting activity prevalent on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Social learning might just sound like the latest education buzzword, but the ATD report is just one example of how it can benefit learners. The lessons Comcast discovered by incorporating a social platform into their training and development can be applied to learning across a wide spectrum. And today, thanks to innovative technology, social learning is easier than ever.

Apps & More Apps

Whether it’s utilizing Google Suite with apps like Hangouts and Drive, or communicating via Facebook and other social platforms, more and more, educators of all kinds are utilizing online social tools to teach. Social platforms are a valuable tool because they are already so widely used in our society. Internet users of all ages often turn to social media and online forums for information and help solving problems. And applications like Skype and WhatsApp make it easier to communicate with people across the globe, wherever you are.

Engage & Excite

Keeping up with the latest technological advancements ensures learners have access to the most up to date information and resources. And by utilizing these social platforms and communication applications educators will be better able to engage learners in new and exciting ways.

What Role Should “Social” Play in Learning?