5 Key Benefits of Social Learning in L&D.

Written by Tim Newham

13 November 2023

employee engagement

key benefits of social learning

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How can you achieve social learning in a digital world to better improve learning retention and engagement?

Learning was historically completed in a classroom surrounded by peers. But as we move into an increasingly digital world, learning has become more isolated as learning is taken online too.

Considering humans are social animals, it’s no surprise to learn that we’re also social learners.

According to psychologist Albert Bandura, we don’t just learn from books or teachers. In fact, we can learn a lot simply by observing others.

But how do the two relate?

In this blog, we’ll explore:

  • What social learning is
  • The benefits of social learning in L&D
  • How to apply social learning practices to your learning strategy

Let’s get started.

What is social learning?

Social learning is the process of gaining knowledge, skills and even ideas through observation, collaboration and interaction with others.

It takes advantage of the natural tendency to learn from your surroundings and people you engage with.

Instead of relying solely on structured classroom or online courses, social learning leverages diverse sources of knowledge and experience from peers, mentors, experts, and communities of practice.

Social learning is crucial because it fosters collaboration, critical thinking, engagement, and lifelong learning.

In today’s fast-changing world, where information and technology continue to evolve at a rapid pace, social learning provides a powerful tool for individuals and organisations to keep up with the changing landscape and develop knowledge and skills that are relevant and transferable to real-world contexts.

It not only enhances individual performance but also creates a culture of knowledge sharing and development that benefits the entire community.

5 benefits of social learning in L&D

Numerous studies have highlighted the significant impact of social learning on individuals and organisations.

According to a survey by the Brandon Hall Group, 85% of organisations believe that social learning helps solve critical business knowledge and skill gaps.

Another study by Bersin & Associates found that social learning can improve employee productivity by up to 20%.

But what tangible benefits can you stand to gain from social learning?

We’ve pulled out 5 benefits of social learning:

  1. Better collaboration and teamwork
  2. Improved engagement
  3. Enhanced learning retention
  4. Real-world application
  5. Continuous learning

Let’s look at these one by one:

Better collaboration and teamwork

One of the key advantages of social learning is the opportunity for collaboration and teamwork.

By working together, individuals can leverage each other’s strengths, share perspectives, and find creative solutions to problems.

This type of learning fosters a sense of community and helps build strong interpersonal relationships.

Improved engagement

Social learning promotes active participation and engagement.

When learning with others, individuals are more likely to be motivated and enthusiastic about the subject matter.

Group discussions, debates, and project work stimulate critical thinking and encourage individuals to think deeply about the topic at hand.

Enhanced learning retention

Studies have shown that learning with others enhances retention.

By discussing and explaining concepts to others, individuals reinforce their own understanding of the subject matter.

Moreover, hearing different viewpoints and interpretations enriches the learning experience and helps in deepening the understanding of complex ideas.

Real-world application

Social learning often involves real-world scenarios and practical application of knowledge.

By engaging in discussions and collaborative problem-solving, individuals can develop skills that are transferable to real-life situations.

This type of learning provides a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Continuous learning

Social learning promotes a culture of continuous learning. As individuals share their knowledge and expertise, they contribute to the collective growth of the community.

Learning becomes a lifelong journey where individuals can continue to acquire new knowledge, skills, and perspectives from their peers.

How to use social learning in your L&D strategy

In the rapidly evolving landscape of learning and development (L&D), organisations are continually seeking effective strategies to enhance employee training and development.

One approach that has gained significant traction is incorporating social learning into the L&D strategy.

But how exactly can you do this without losing precious time or spending more on new tools?

Invest in an engagement tool

Chances are, you already have an LMS in place.

But where many learning management systems fail are engagement and collaboration.

That’s where we come in.

Our LMS uses Totara’s basecode which is composed of three core components; Learn, Perform and Engage.

The Engage element is a key addition to your LMS.


It’s simple.

With it, you can create a collaborative culture that recognises, rewards, and inspires contributions.

It involves core features like social sharing, learning resource areas where you can share blogs, podcasts, videos and more plus personalised learning opportunities.

🚀 Pro Tip

Want to learn more about our learning engagement platform? We pride ourselves on creating the best version of Totara.

Book a demo to see it in action.

These platforms allow for the easy dissemination of information and provide employees with the flexibility to explore topics of interest at their own pace.

By curating relevant and engaging content, organisations can ensure that employees have access to the latest information and resources, enhancing their learning experiences.

Create an online community

Creating online communities or forums within an organisation provides a platform for employees to connect, share expertise, ask questions, and learn from each other.

These virtual spaces become hubs of knowledge exchange where individuals can seek advice, share best practices, and collaborate on projects.

By facilitating communication and collaboration, online communities offer a continuous learning environment that encourages employees to stay updated, share insights, and develop their skills.

Kickstart a mentoring programme

Peer mentoring programs allow experienced employees to guide and support their peers in their learning journey.

By pairing individuals with similar roles or interests, organisations create opportunities for knowledge transfer and skill development.

💡Pro Tip

Learn about our peer-to-peer matching tool, ThinkLink, can help you set up mentoring, coaching and onboarding relationships.

Learn more about ThinkLink

Mentors can share their experiences, offer advice, and provide valuable insights to help mentees navigate challenges and grow professionally.

Peer mentoring enhances engagement, builds strong relationships, and establishes a culture of learning from one’s peers.

Collaborative projects

Assigning collaborative projects or group assignments in L&D programs encourages employees to work together, leveraging diverse perspectives and skills to solve problems and achieve shared goals.

Collaborative projects promote teamwork, communication, and critical thinking.

By engaging in collaborative learning experiences, employees develop a range of skills, including effective communication, negotiation, and problem-solving, while also fostering innovation and creativity in the workplace.

Get started with social learning

Social learning has revolutionised the way we learn and interact with others.

It offers numerous benefits, such as collaboration, improved engagement, enhanced learning retention, real-world application, and continuous learning.

Even in the workplace, social learning creates a fertile ground for knowledge sharing and growth. Embrace the power of learning together and unlock your peoples’ true potential.

Book a demo with Think to see how our solutions can help you achieve your L&D goals and better incorporate social learning into your strategy.