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H817 - Activity 4 - Social Learning

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Edited by Sarah Vaughan, Friday, 9 Apr 2021, 14:27

After reading Seely Brown et al's 2008 paper, and while utilising The Open University’s (2014) ‘PROMPT methodology’, I have chosen to examine in greater detail the concepts of group-based, social and collaborative learning. Using insights from the recent Global Sentiment Survey, conducted by the Learning Performance Institute (2021), where recent shifts in learning trends have been highlighted due to the impact of the global pandemic. Specifically, a new entrant into the top spot for this year, identifies upskilling and reskilling as the largest growth areas in learning, as individuals aim to utilise lockdowns for honing and developing new abilities. Learning ecosystems, and communities of practice and inquiry, continue to exist and bolstered by theoretical foundations, which formulate part of a robust set of scaffolding for new entrants in the learning innovation space. Seely Brown et al. (2008, p.32), note they have used the term ‘ecosystems’ rather than ‘learning infrastructure’ to reflect interdependencies between each variable within the ecosystem (Aitkins, Brown and Hammond, 2007). 

According to traditional theory, social learning is driven by a series of interactions, within ecosystems. These actions fuel knowledge sharing and information transfer, across a learning community, such as this open blog forum. This could be likened to the use of testimonials and online reviews as a means for gauging opinion and learning information about a given product or service. Using the origins of Bandura’s framework (1977), Wals’ (2007, p.50) explores both passive and active social learning and goes on to comment on how we need to eradicate ‘maladaptive behaviours’ and ultimately replace these with sustainable ones for passive social learning to be effective in creating ‘eco-cultural sustainability’ (p.51). Similar principals can be applied to how we learn. For example, perhaps the best stages and forms of learning are when we do not realise it is actually taking place, which could be also called ‘unconscious learning’ (McLaughlin, 1990). The learner in this instance is gaining knowledge, skills and information and yet is not consciously aware of what is occurring. In essence, my findings on ‘social learning’ translated to find social and cultural benefits can be achieved by the shift away from traditional learning models and patterns founded on principals of capitalism and consumption, towards more renewable and suitable circular economy-led approaches to open critical pedagogical design. 


Atkins, D. E., Brown, J. S., and Hammond, A. L. (2007). A review of the open educational resources (OER) movement: achievements, challenges, and new opportunities. San Francisco, CA, Creative common. http://www.oerderves.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/a-review-of-the-open-educational-resources-oer-movement_final.pdf. (Accessed 13 February 2021). 

Bandura, A. (1977) Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.  

Buckingham Shum, S., and Ferguson, R. (2012) ‘Social Learning Analytics’, Educational Technology & Society, vol. 15 no. 3, pp. 3–26 [Online]. Available at https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/jeductechsoci.15.3.3.pdf (Accessed 13 February 2021). 

McLaughlin, B. (1990). '“Conscious” versus “Unconscious” Learning. TESOL Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4, p.617. DOI: 10.2307/3587111.  

Seely Brown, J. and Adler, R. (2008) ‘Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail and learning 2.0’, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 16–32 [Online]. Available at https://er.educause.edu/ articles/ 2008/ 1/ minds-on-fire-open-education-the-long-tail-and-learning-20 (Accessed 8 February 2021).

The Learning Performance Institute (2021) Global Sentiment Survey 2021. Available at https://www.thelpi.org/the-ld-global-sentiment-survey-2021-the-impact-of-covid/ (Accessed 8 February 2021).

The Open University (2014) ‘Advanced evaluation using PROMPT’. [Online]. Available at https://www.open.ac.uk/libraryservices/documents/advanced-evaluation-using-prompt.pdf (Accessed 13 February 2021).

Wals, A., (2007) Social learning towards a sustainable world. Wageningen Academic Publishers [Online]. Available at https://edepot.wur.nl/141070 (Accessed 13 February 2021).
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