Social Learning is not without potential problems

Learner peers, co-workers, family members and friends can be extremely helpful in supporting our learners, but they are not substitutes for trained tutors or teachers. While they can be helpful—even critical—in helping learners succeed in our programs, I have learned we need to be wary of the types of influences others can have. If the peers, co-workers, family members and friends are truly knowledgeable of the subject material and are able to effectively “mentor” our learners, that is one thing; but it can be very difficult if others involved essentially “take over” the teacher/tutor role in their being “helpful.” They can end up confusing both our learners and our relationship with learners.

In summary, this is a teaching tool, like the two methods seen earlier. Any tool can be effective if used wisely and applied well. Most tools take practice to master. Carefully thinking through how best to set up social learning supports for our learners with, for instance, their peers, coworkers, family or friends can provide a truly helpful way to support learning. Hope it helps…

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Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Fingeret, H., & Jurmo, P. (Eds.). (1989). Participatory literacy education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 42. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Quigley, A. (2006). Building professional pride in literacy: A dialogical guide to professional development. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing.