Are you an online educator still wondering if are we ready for online education?
While the students have joyfully moved to virtual learning, teachers are working hard to recreate a conducive learning environment virtually. As an online educator, you can enhance learning in your virtual classrooms with the help of Social Learning.
What is Social Learning?
Social learning theory is a behavioral theory that says new behaviors can be learned by observing and imitating others.
It supports the idea that meaning-making/learning is a cognitive process in social settings. Furthermore, the possibility of future social interactions drives curiosity and motivates a person to learn.
Are you wondering how to enhance virtual learning with the help of social learning in your virtual classroom? Well, then keep on reading.
Why should you incorporate Social Learning in your virtual classroom as an educator?
1. It is the natural way to learn
Social learning is the natural way in which we learn. It happens on its own. The only thing you need to do as an online educator makes your virtual classroom as communicative and social as a physical classroom.
2. Skill enhancement and sharing
Social learning encourages collaboration and engagement with peers. This allows students to contribute and enhance their skills and talents. At the same time, it allows them to learn from their peers. Additionally, sharing ideas, thoughts, and experiences expands their knowledge.
3. Higher learning retention
When we learn something socially we can retain it better than learning from a textbook. When we learn something directly from a person, we can recall things like voice pitch, memories, or even a joke that a classmate cracked during learning.
4. Enhanced knowledge/information
When student exchange ideas with their peers frequently and on a diverse range of topics, they get to look beyond their horizons. This broadens their perspective and expands their knowledge.
When students learn through collaboration, they learn more than the course material. They learn important life skills such as teamwork, effective communication, creativity, problem-solving, resourcefulness, and much more.
6. Inclusion of shy students
In a classroom, there are different kinds of students. Students that are naturally introverted and speak less in class can feel left out, especially in an online learning environment. In a physical classroom, students can interact with each other and the teacher. Although as school goes virtual, it can be difficult to involve shy students.
Since social learning encourages collaboration and interaction, not only do shy students learn by hearing, but they also get more opportunities to speak up compared to a traditional lecture teaching method.
How to enhance virtual learning with the help of Social Learning?
1. Establish community norms
Virtual learning is very different from learning in a physical classroom. Therefore same methods and schedules will not work in the virtual setup. You can establish new ways of functioning for your classroom. You can also take your students' suggestions to make the virtual classroom more engaging and comfortable for them.
Some of the changes you can bring to your virtual classroom :
Design a new curriculum and schedule. Divide the study material into manageable chunks. Learning online is more tiring for students. Moreover, many students find it difficult to concentrate in an online class because of the lack of a quiet environment, etc.
Give additional pre-readings for new topics. Consider providing links to related videos, news clippings, documentaries, etc. This will make the subject more engaging for the students.
Makes clear and strict rules for acceptable behavior, submissions, and class participation. Make sure that your students know, understand, and respect these rules.
Introduce more collaborative activities and projects in your class, as virtual learning provides significantly fewer opportunities for students to iterate with their peers.
2. Provide Extra Emotional Support
In an online learning environment, students get less social interaction. They don’t get to share their fears and anxiety with their friends like in a physical classroom. Additionally, students may have family members suffering from Covid-19 or other home problems.
That is why an educator is responsible for providing extra emotional support to your students in a virtual setup. Moreover, you should teach your students to be kind to one another.
3. Allocate space for informal interaction
When students go to school they interact with their peers between classes, on the bus, during lunch, and in many other places informally. Sadly this is one thing they can not do during an online lecture.
Students need to interact with their peers away from teachers and parents. If this interaction happens during lectures, it can come in the way of learning.
You should encourage students to interact outside of class. Your institute can provide a virtual lounge for students where they can hang out virtually, live stream, play games, and interact with each other.
4. Take advantage of gamification and nudges
To get your student's attention, you can use psychological techniques like “nudging” and “gamification.”
As the name suggests, you can nudge students in the right direction. The key is to not forbid anything and not to dictate what they should do. For example, you can give them reminders to study or give options like submit your assignment in the first week of break and have the rest of the break tension free.
Gamification is similar to positive reinforcement, like how it is in video games, hence the name. For example, you can give points to students for class participation, behavior, assignment submissions, etc. Allow them to redeem these points for their benefit, such as if they collect 30 points, they get an extra day to finish their homework. If they collect 50 points, they can pick their partner for a team project, etc.
5. Promote Peer Learning
Peer learning provides a more democratic way of learning than a hierarchical learning model.
For example, you can divide your students into groups to work on a presentation/assignment or for a general discussion/debate where they can interact.
This will teach students teamwork, public speaking, and diversity management.
6. Use Humor to Reduce Tension
Humor alleviates stress and Tension. Create a learning environment that is not only interesting but also inviting. You can incorporate humorous examples, memes, and stories in your lectures to make the material more engaging for your students.
If you are feeling bold, you can also try to pull a prank on your students, as long as it doesn't hurt the sentiment of your students.
7. Embrace art as a way of learning
You can organize various online events for your students that will allow them to express themselves. This could include-
Virtual art exhibition
Spoken word poetry
As education moves online, educators must devise creative ways to make virtual classrooms more social and interactive for their students. If you were wondering how to enhance virtual learning with the help of social learning in your virtual classroom, I hope this blog was informative for you.
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