V.V. Gubkina
State Higher Educational Establishment “National Mining University”
Considering learning a social process means taking into account the role of communication and conversation in the process of learning, the design of the learning environment and the means by which students and teachers interact, thus facilitating learning and gaining required skills and proficiency. All activities involved in the process of education take place in a social context, while interaction with other participants of this process shapes the understanding of the world. These social interactions promote the development of the language skills intended to support thinking, thus providing feedback and keeping ongoing learning.
The social learning theory originally evolved from behaviorism but now it includes many of the ideas that cognitivists were also following. As a result it is sometimes called social cognitive learning and develops the theory proposed by L.S.Vygotsky who considered knowledge to be constructed in the midst of our interaction with others and shaped by the skills and abilities valued in a particular culture. He argued that language is the main tool that promotes thinking, develops reasoning and supports such specific cultural activities as reading and writing. L.S. Vygotsky outlined the zone of proximal development which emphasizes students’ opportunity to master concepts and ideas with the help of teachers and more advanced students.
Further development in social learning theory  provides the  fact  that learning will most likely occur if there is a close identification between the observer and the model and if the observer also has a good deal of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy beliefs function as an important set of proximal determinants of human motivation, affect, and action [which] operate on action through motivational, cognitive, and affective intervening processes (Bandura, 1989). Identification allows the observer to feel a one-to-one connection with the individual being imitated and will be more likely to achieve those imitations if the observer feels that they have the ability to follow through with the imitated action (Bandura, 1988).
Social learning theory studies how both environmental and cognitive factors interact to influence human learning and behavior. It focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context. It considers people to learn from one another and includes such concepts as observational learning, imitation and modeling (Abbott, 2007). Social learning theory revolves around the process of knowledge acquisition or learning directly correlated to the observation of models. The models can be those of an interpersonal imitation or media sources.
Conte and Paolucci (2001) define social learning as a process of learning caused or favored by people being situated in a common environment and observing one another. This allows the learners not only to perceive each other for comparison and self-evaluation, but also see others as a neutral source of information, which may help several forms of instrumental learning. Within a social learning episode the learners update their own knowledge base (adding to, or removing from it a given information , or modifying an existing representation) by perceiving the positive or negative effects of any given event undergone or actively produced by another person on a state of the world in which the learner has a goal (Conte, Paolucci, 2001).
Just as a common environment is a medium that allows learning methods to take place, these tools are also media that carry the learning methods. And the research shows that it is the learning methods that matter the most, while media are selected for their ability to effectively and efficiently carry the learning method (Clark, 2001). Thus, just as long as a social media tool can transport the learning methods, then it should have little or no effect on learning. Mason and Renniet (2008) wrote that there were four major benefits of learner generated content that these tools provide:
·The learners have the tools to actively participate in the construction of their experience, rather than passively absorb content.
·The content can be continually refreshed by the learners rather than require expert input.
·Many of the tools are collaborative in nature, thus the learners develop team skills.
·Shared community space and inter-group communications are a larger part of what excites young people; therefore it should help motivate them to learn.
And nowadays the use of modern information technologies will be appropriate to connect rather than separate students from one another. This technology provides the application of the main four principles set up by this social constructivist theory:
·Learning and development are social and collaborative activities.
·The Zone of Proximal Development can serve as a guide for curricular and lesson planning.
·Learning should occur in a meaningful context and cannot be separated from learning and knowledge students develop in the real world.
·Out-of-university experiences should be related to students’ university experiences.
Social media may be considered as communication tools that allow users to create, modify and/or distribute content. And rather than being a broadcast model for one-to-many, such a typical web page, social media are a more of a many-to-many model that allows a conversational format for students to create, share and remix information. The “Web 2.0” features that have got a widespread usage are not just technical implementations themselves, but the frameworks of “participation” and “sharing” they enable structure and call upon us to enact (Lewis, Pea, Rosen, 2010).
By incorporating social learning theory into the process of teaching an encouraging classroom environment is sure to be developed and provide the stimulus for students to be fully engaged and enjoy the learning experience.  The role of the teacher consists in shaping these social interactions and making assessment of students’ understanding and creating situations to promote further development of students’ ability to apply knowledge obtained in different working environments.
Such notion of educational process is referred to as assisted performance. Teachers allow students to learn from each other by creating a learning environment where students are involved in class discussion, collaboration and feedback. The opponents of social learning theory also suggest that some actions you take as a teacher can distract your students from participation and restrict their engagement in your lesson.
Social learning may have positive and negative sides, but it cannot be considered to be an old-fashioned trend. Nowadays, social learning is a reflection of the educational environment where students are able to shape their personal features and achieve both their learning and professional goals.
Social learning theory approaches can be applied to any environment where any social phenomena can take place. It involves specific factors promoting social learning: labeling theory, observational learning and socialization. Furthermore, any businesses, government agencies and different policy makers can implement social learning theory to meet their requirements and strategies to get the most benefits.
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