• Education

Creating a Social Learning Strategy in a Hybrid World

As the world adjusts to life post-pandemic, a new normal has arisen – one in which remote living and in-person learning are able to support each other in a hybrid learning environment.

Universities are seeking new and engaging ways to train, educate, and build knowledge that solves the issues of isolation and demotivation that can occur from operating in a hybrid world. Here’s where social learning comes in. 

Social learning has proven to be a highly successful model, since it makes the learning experience engaging through building collaborative relationships and community-focused motivators into the learning process. 

Using video for social learning creates a more engaging, consistent, and personalized process so that students are motivated to keep learning – when they want and how they want.


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In this guide, you will learn 

  • What is Social Learning Theory?
    • History and types of social learning
  • How Does Social Learning Work?
    • Principles of social learning theory
    • Examples of social learning in the classroom
  • Benefits of Social Learning Theory
  • How to Create a Social Learning Strategy in a Hybrid World
    • How to use video for social learning
    • How to measure the impact of social learning 
  • Best Practices for Implementing Social Learning in the Classroom
  • The Future of Social Learning


What is Social Learning Theory?

Social learning theory is based around the idea that students can learn from watching or imitating others. As one of the most informal ways of learning based around creating, building, and teaching, social learning has been around for a long time and can even be attributed to the advancement of our species.

Panopto can be used for social learning theory in the classroom.Operating in any social context, social learning can be particularly influential in the classroom as students can learn without actually being aware of the learning process that is happening.

💡 Following a trial, 92.3% of students indicated the need to further include social learning tools as part of their formal education.


History and types of social learning

Made popular by psychologist Albert Bandura in the 1960s, social learning theory proposes that individuals can learn behavior in a social context simply by observing others. 

Bandura theorized that there are two types of social learning: reinforcement learning and vicarious learning. 

Reinforcement learning is when someone learns from the repercussions of their behaviors or actions, whereas vicarious learning is where learning occurs from watching people and replicating their behaviors. Reinforcement and vicarious learning do not operate in a vacuum, they are still dependent on the mental state and motivation of the learner – this can greatly affect whether behaviors are learned or not

How Does Social Learning Work?

In education, social learning operates by students observing teachers or their peers and learning from mimicking their behaviors. It provides the opportunity for learning to occur at a number of levels in a variety of different environments, in all of which motivation plays an important role.

In order to gain long-term knowledge and implementation of skills, students need to see the benefits of learning a new behavior. This is often why positive reinforcement can be an effective tool to assist students when learning.

Principles of social learning theory

Social learning theory has four principles that can help determine whether a new behavior has been learned. These principles are:

  • Attention. The degree to which an observer notices certain behaviors. Learning can only occur if people are paying attention. Keep in mind the number of behaviors we observe every day and don’t imitate. Typically, humans only learn the things that they consider to be interesting, unusual, and useful – an important factor to keep in mind when practicing social learning with students.
  • Retention. How well the observer remembers behaviors is crucial in determining if they will be able to mimic the actions in the future. 
  • Reproduction. Social learning in action. The ability to perform learned behaviors in a different context.
  • Motivation. The desire to reproduce the behavior. This can depend on the repercussions or reinforcement that occurred as a result of imitating the behavior.


The principles of social learning can establish how well a student has engaged in the process.

Examples of social learning theory in the classroom

Examples of social learning theory in the classroom can include:

  • Flipping the classroom 
  • Gamification
  • Teachers using rewards to support built-in motivational learning
  • Encouraging connections and relationships between students
  • Peer mentoring, peer teaching, or peer assessments 
  • Student-created videos or presentations
  • Giving positive reinforcement to students who are carrying out the desired behavior
  • Debates
  • Student-created video skits or role playing
  • Monitored social media use

Benefits of Social Learning Theory

Whether social learning is being used in the classroom or in the workplace, there are a number of reasons why educators are turning to this mode of instruction. The key benefits of social learning are that it: 

  • Provides learners significant control over their schooling and the way in which they receive information
  • Improves communication 
  • Increases engagement 
  • Increases productivity 
  • Can help students develop their own organizational skills
  • Helps students develop invaluable soft skills that can be used in the workplace

📣 “We’re beginning to see more academics using the flexible, blended model of learning where students absorb the information prior to class and then spend their in-class time actually working through problems and engaging with teachers.”

Ben Armstrong, Learning Technology Support Specialist in the Learning Design and Teaching Innovation Unit, University of Newcastle

How to Create a Social Learning Strategy in a Hybrid World

Collaborative social learning is vital in a hybrid learning environment where students can feel disconnected from their peers. How might educators create the right social learning strategy? Here are seven steps to implement to create an effective social learning strategy in a hybrid world. 

  1. Evaluate your existing eLearning strategy to determine how social learning will integrate with your curriculum. 
  2. Target your key eLearning objectives and determine which social learning platform or tool you will use – Panopto is a great platform for supporting social learning. 
  3. Personalize your social learning approach by treating each student as an individual and letting them take learning into their own hands – whether they choose to engage asynchronously, synchronously, or in a hybrid setting. 
  4. Encourage group collaboration through social learning assignments such as peer mentoring, group discussions, and video skits.
  5. Provide active and engaging feedback to emulate desired behaviors.
  6. Offer positive reinforcement to keep students motivated. 
  7. Encourage students to share what they have learned with others, solidifying the cyclical nature of social learning.


💡A Harvard Business School study shows that social learning can increase course completion rates by up to 85%


How to use video for social learning

Using video for social learning has a number of benefits – it is practical, personalized, cost-effective, and can be used at a variety of points during the learning process. 

Panopto is the ideal tool to use for social learning in a hybrid environment as it provides a centralized hub where videos can be shared and viewed, supports collaboration through discussion in videos, and supports social learning techniques such as gamification and flipped learning.  In addition, Panopto also offers user-friendly editing that makes it easy for both educators and learners to adjust their videos to their requirements and add features such as chapters or in-video quizzes.

Check out this Panopto video of a student presenting a flipped laboratory – how to use the Leica microscope – so you can see just how easy it is to use Panopto for social learning. See more below:

How to measure the impact of social learning

In order to justify implementing social learning into your teaching strategy it is important to measure the value and impact. This can be done by:

  • Measuring engagement. Determining the initial impact of a social learning program can be achieved through analyzing analytics related to how well it performed in a social context – how many times it was viewed, shared, commented on, or contributed to. 
  • Measuring quality. The type of insight acquired is just as important as how well students were engaged with the learning process. In an educational setting, quality could be associated with the level of critical thought that was achieved. 
  • Measuring change. Setting a roadmap against which students can evaluate their own (and their peers’) growth against set goals can visually demonstrate the impact of a social learning strategy. 

Best Practices for Implementing Social Learning

To ensure that you are implementing social learning appropriately, it is important to keep in mind certain best practices. 

  • Support social learning through school-wide initiatives such as mentorship programs and discussion groups.
  • Provide the right tools to support successful social learning such as a video management system like Panopto that enables observational learning through video.
  • Encourage students to participate in a collaborative environment that focuses on eLearning objectives and uplifting learners.
  • Incentivize students with gamification, positive reinforcement, and rewards.
  • Build an inclusive learning community through supporting accessibility in social learning video.
  • Make use of social media (but avoid useless distractions and pointless browsing) to encourage students to share what they have learnt.

The Future of Social Learning

Social learning is a beneficial tool. However, in a world where hybrid learning is becoming increasingly accepted, combining collaborative social learning with video technology is a powerful strategy for improving learning experiences and outcomes.

The future of social learning will see an increase in seamless communication conducted through video technology – and Panopto provides the tool to support this endeavor. Students engaged with a combination of asynchronous social learning and in-person teamwork will be empowered to drive a generation of motivated learners where the students will soon become the teachers. 


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