What is a social learning space?

Social learning isn’t conventional learning. In social learning, there’s no teaching, no tests. Instead, there’s discussion, support, exploration…

If conventional learning is all about a classroom – whether that’s a traditional or digital one – then social learning is all about a community.

In social learning spaces, students can come together to voluntarily exchange ideas, ask questions, provide answers and explore issues with one another, no matter when or where they are.

This kind of learning is through interaction, rather than through knowledge acquisition. In a sense, it has always played some kind of role in a student’s educational journey, even if that was as informal as a group of students discussing an assignment on the way home after school. For different generations therefore, social learning has varied in significance and nature. But now, in the curricula of modern 21st century learning, it’s absolutely fundamental. Not only do contemporary students want to learn in this way, but today’s technological and digital world enables them to do so in a manner that previous generations could only dream of.

In many ways, a digital social learning space doesn’t need any structure, or even any ‘authority’ figure (such as a teacher). It can be a completely self-determining and self-regulating environment all of its own. In practice, however, the best social learning spaces have two clear features:

–   Firstly, they provide tools to enable and enhance conversations.

–   Secondly, they are usually moderated (ideally with a light rather than a heavy touch), so that those conversations run smoothly, stay on track, remain fresh and friendly, and so on.

That’s where a solution like WinjiGo makes a real difference. Its features are designed to maximize the potential of social learning, across multiple ages and abilities.

Yet, they are also designed to be unobtrusive. WinjiGo is all about supporting and enabling the spirit of social learning, rather than being a ‘piece of technology kit’ in its own right. That’s an important balance to get right with social learning. Without it, a platform can run the risk of actually getting in the way of the very thing it is meant to provide.

So if we were to sum up the five key qualities of a successful social learning space therefore, they would be almost identical to the experience students have when using WinjiGo:

–   It’s a community environment, not a classroom.

–   It’s intuitive and natural to use, to find what you want, and to get involved.

–   It empowers students, more than ‘educates’ them.

–   It’s fresh and lively, with no ‘dead’ content.

–   It’s supportive, sociable and – more than anything else – enjoyable.

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