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Social Learning : Paving The Way For Learning Continuity In The New Normal

Though social interactions are being curbed, the cognitive growth of students cannot be. Social Learning seems like the only way forward.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions has limited the interactions between educators and students. It has formed a void in their socio-cultural relationships due to lack of communication and one-on-one conversations. Though the conditions might persist in the coming years as well, education and overall personality development of the students, especially the younger ones cannot be compromised upon.

Learning exceeds the set curriculum. During their formative years, since a child’s immediate environment only really oscillates between their home and school, the latter does play a major role in shaping their behaviors, habits, attitudes and peer-to-peer interaction skills.

So, can we afford to lose all of that because of the pandemic?

Of course not!

Online classes have undoubtedly proved to be a blessing in these trying times. But it isn’t quite yet at its full potential, for reasons mentioned above. This new system of education has especially taken a toll on new students, that is, the ones who are unfamiliar with how an actual class functions and have never got the in-class feel. Children as young as four or five years old, are now reliant on computer screens and mobile phones for all of their learning. And the only place housing all of it is their homes, which might be a highly unsuitable scenario for some. There are multiple distractions that might hinder learning, unlike schools where the whole environment is solely focused on studying. With classmates around who are studying the same subjects alongside and unfiltered on-the-spot discussions, the classroom experience stands unparalleled.

So how do we bring their school campuses right on their couch?

The answer is : through Social Learning on a virtual platform!

Social learning is the process of learning through imitation, and mirroring the personalities, actions and behaviours of the mentors. For example, we see that children often tend to mimic their parents, whether it is pretending to go to work by holding their briefcases, wearing clothes like them or behaving as their parents would in certain situations. Similarly in learning environments, children look up to their teachers and observe and mimic their behaviours. In virtual learning scenarios this becomes tedious, due the absence of the mentors physically. This might lead to a stunted social growth amongst the students.

Now for the second part of the answer, how do we do this digitally? Portal Board solves that for you.

Internationally there were already learning management systems present that involved social learning, but Portal Board is India’s first social learning management system. It is an educational social network that binds students together, even though they are geographically apart.

But how exactly is it actualized?

Through Social Media!

Now, social media and studying seem antithetical at first, but what better way to incorporate learning than using a platform that already hosts so many young ones and has the capability to hold their attention for long periods of time.

Social media is demonized in many contexts, but it is no secret that it single handedly brought people from all across the world together. It also successfully continues to build a huge communication network that bridges all the gaps caused due to physical proximities. Also, it is the coming generation that is the most acquainted with technologies as such, so the onboarding of students to this new system is smooth and no longer poses a burden.

The social media framework of knowing the current happenings almost right at the moment when it is occurring, views and opinions on the same is a feature that can be well utilized for education. To take Portal Board into account, one of its features called Newsfeed does the same. It allows one to witness and share posts on a common news feed that is updated in real-time. Anyone belonging to the campus can share their achievements, grievances, discrepancies, important information, riveting resources, and much more. Thus, students have a vested interest in learning.

What are the advantages of using this method you ask?

Well, Social Learning theory has certain proven advantages such as :

  1. Digital Literacy

  2. Independence And Self-learning,

  3. Networking,

  4. Knowledge Management,

  5. Decision-making

  6. Collaboration Or Teamwork

It is a psychological perspective that ensures social development of a child, when it is well-fitted in an educational framework.

But will it be relevant in the foreseeable future?

Of course! In this digital era, almost every task that you can do physically, can be carried out much easily through a few mouse-clicks. So why not use it for education as well? The post pandemic times bring uncertainty to the table, but the current norms are obviously bound to change. Luckily, this change is for the better! Since these times have made us more sensitive towards one another’s situations, inculcating these behaviors in students is a fresh way to raise a generation of young ones that are more understanding and compassionate. And this can be achieved by infusing social learning to the digital educational systems.

The final word:

The pandemic brought in a lot of challenges, but we strived through each one of them and will have to continue doing so in the near future as well. Learning and education is one of the last things that can take a backseat, but even though the times are tough we are capable of building a system that is more accommodating, accepting and helpful for all. Learning must surely continue, but its quality will no longer have to be compromised upon. Utilizing social media interfaces that students are already familiar with is the only way for bringing about learning continuity in the new normal times.

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