How to Adopt Social Learning Theory in eLearning

Social learning theory

Albert Bandura’s idea of social learning speculates that we learn through seeing and modeling other people’s behavior. To understand behavior or attitude, we observe and mimic the actions and feelings of others around us. This theory has been essential in understanding how we learn and how to create the best learning environment possible. Is it possible to transform social learning into social eLearning? We’ll look at Bandura’s theory in a Learning Management System setting in this article.

Is it true that eLearning is a social activity?

Let’s start with how eLearning is a social process. It can be a solitary and asynchronous pastime, which isn’t always bad. It varies depending on the type of training and the learning objectives. All content doesn’t need to be a group activity. Some training is unavoidable. The best illustration of this is compliance training. Other types of training, on the other hand, other types of training necessitate a little more interactivity or different engagement strategies.

Incorporating a social component is one method to encourage students to participate. Gamification, webinars, and other features try to fill the hole left by social media. However, in order to truly benefit from social eLearning, you must allow learners to interact more freely.

Bandura’s social learning theory

According to the hypothesis, our learning process is influenced by our surroundings and interactions. The focus of Bandura’s theory is on observation and imitation. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as observational learning. Bandura conducted a series of tests known as the Bobo doll experiments. (Bobo dolls are inflatable dolls that may be pushed over and then pop back up due to their weight distribution.)

Bobo doll experiments

Children would be shown how adults act towards these dolls as part of the experiment. Following that, the children would be observed imitating the acts they had witnessed. We see something, memorize it, and then try it out for ourselves. The hypothesis goes beyond the mere idea that children pick up on their parent’s bad habits. It can be used to how all groups of people learn from one another. It is managed with four distinct principles.

4 principles of Social learning theory

  1. Attention –  Focusing on learning will be more complicated if weren’t aware of the task at hand. Bandura explains that social circumstances help to focus the learner. If the peers are concentrated, the individual is more likely to be.
  2. Retention – Memory retention works from collecting information and recalling it regularly. Retention is crucial for the learner in order to perform tasks themselves.
  3. Reproduction – ‘Practice makes perfect,’ as the old phrase says. Reproducing an action and performing again allows you to get a powerful intellectual hold on the subject matter.
  4. Motivation – Following the completion of an action, the reward or consequences are seen. These assist in encouraging the observer to perform the behavior. If a learner is recognized, the observer is more motivated to follow in their footsteps.

Steps on applying Bandura’s social learning theory 

To incorporate social learning theory into your training, first, consider whether the four principles are present in your training programs.

  • Is the group’s collective attention on a training exercise? This brings their attention.
  • Is the subject matter of the training is memorable so that learners retain their knowledge?
  • Does the activity provide the learners to try out the learning key objectives themselves?
  • Also, are the learners’ actions recognized publicly? This is to motivate the individual and the groups.

As previously said, learners must be put in an atmosphere with other learners to benefit from social learning ultimately. Gamification leaderboards can help learners recreate this environment by seeing how others do and then replicating those activities. However, they do not provide a good picture of the entire learning process. 

How did an individual approach the training? How did they deal with issues? We’ll need something more purpose-built for this, such as a discussion forum.

How can learners benefit from using discussion forums?

In a learning management system, discussion forums serve two purposes. They’re a setting where learners can:

  1. Show their Contribution and Interaction
  2. Observe others’ contributions and conversations.

Learners can interact with their peers before, during, and after their training. Furthermore, these discussions take place within the forum. The essential advantage here is that it uses Bandura’s social learning theory aspects. Learners can watch in on others’ discussions, which allows them to learn from their mistakes and get different perspectives.


What is the main goal of social learning theory?

The social learning theory seeks to demonstrate how different learning methods are available to people. Though self-reflection plays a role in decision-making, a person's environment has a greater impact on how they act and perceive the world.

What are the 5 principles of social learning theory?

Albert Bandura who developed the idea of social learning theory, suggests five steps that must occur in order for learning to occur: observation, attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What is the importance of social learning?

Social learning theory is crucial. When employees are required to make real decisions and deal with real problems in the workplace, social learning helps to simulate the situations they are likely to encounter.

What are the major components of social learning theory?

The social learning theory has three components, including: Attention. Retention and Motivation.

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