7 Steps Towards Social Learning

By October 24, 2017Social Learning

Employees today are well aware of the changing skill sets that their professional fields require. In order to keep pace with the development of their organisation, they invest time and efforts to upgrade their existing skillset. Although, conventional learning interventions like WBTs and ILTs play an important role in developing key employee skillsets, limiting learning to these traditional forms of professional training is not always effective.

This is where the 70:20:10 model can step in to accommodate collaborative learning methods.

The 70:20:10 Model

Professor Allen Tough from the of the University of Toronto is said to have first proposed the concept of the 70:20:10 model in his publication, The Adult’s Learning Projects. In the 1980s, researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership including Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, were also credited for coming up with the suggestion that most of professional learning happens informally and on the job. Although the model is largely criticised for lack of empirical evidence, it has been widely adopted as a professional training framework.

The 70:20:10 model presumes that:

  • 70% of learning occurs on the job
  • 20% through peer interaction
  • And 10% through formal training like learning modules and facilitators

Social learning includes peer interaction and accounts for roughly 20% of the learning techniques that may be employed by a learner.

The Significance of Social Learning

Imagine, you are sitting at your desk in office. You are trying hard to finish the task in hand while the clock is ticking away, edging dangerously close to the deadline. You are new to the process and suddenly, you realize that you don’t remember how to proceed further.

Which one of the following is the fastest route to redemption?

  1. Skimming feverishly through process documentation
  2. Launching an emergency search for that long-lost training module
  3. Swirling around in your chair and picking your teammate’s brains to help you out

If your answer is Option C, then you have relied on social learning to help you out in this situation. Numerous instances of learning in a peer network form the basis for social learning.

To define social learning:
“Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” Albert Bandura, originator of the social learning theory

Social learning is a lifelong activity that plays an important part in an individual’s growth for a lifetime. Ever since the stone age, human beings have learnt vital life skills by observing each other and participating in communal activities. Social learning has definitely been around for a long time.

Many a times in our professional life, we depend on our colleagues or mentors for learning. Such interaction helps not only to learn, but also to innovate, reform and evaluate self-performance and productivity.

Implementing Social Learning

  • Establish your learning strategy beforehand
    • Decide upon your preferred learning strategy before launching learning activities. The learning strategy and the ensuing activities should accommodate for the busy work schedule of the participants. Besides, a solid strategy can also help you to earn the confidence of the organisational management.

    • Assess organisational willingness
    • It is a good idea to collaborate with the management as well as the L&D department in order to implement your social learning plans and activities. Ensure that these people are willing to implement your idea in agreement.

    • Choose your learning tools

    • Once the learning strategy is in place, select the best-suited learning tool for your preferred learning strategy. To successfully conduct a social learning program, you will also have to ensure that participants are able to use the tool.

    • Form in-house forums

    • Now that your participants are armed with the know-hows of the tool, form forums to enable them to discuss and extend help to their colleagues from all over the organisation.

    • Appoint a mentor

    • Forums may find themselves directionless without a proper guide. A mentor with the right amount of expertise and experience can help to pique the curiosity of the participants, elicit answers from them, and encourage them to post their ideas in the forum.

    • Share and let share

    • Convert forums into a learning community where participants can share resources and experiences comfortably. Choose a few participants who can groom and encourage more and more people to participate.

    • Ask and provide feedback

    • Asking participants for feedback will help assess not just the extent of learning, but also its effectiveness and relevance. Providing feedback is equally vital. Remember to acknowledge and appreciate the value that participants bring to the forum. Feedback can be obtained in the form of a survey, a form or a feedback section in the social learning tool.



    Although, the ratio surmised for the 70:20:10 Model may vary from one organization to another, collaborative learning is gradually but undoubtedly taking precedence over formal learning. We can expect social learning to gradually become the preferred learning intervention.

    Let’s not, however, dismiss formal learning as a thing of the past. Smartly-designed formal learning will lend itself precisely to form the 10% required for 100% learning to take place.