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The Importance of Role Models in Social Learning

Social learning is not just a trendy term. As a matter of fact, it’s not a new concept. As humans, we instinctively learn in a social way. Meaning, we learn best when we observe the behaviors of others and are driven to act. The formal concept of Social Learning wasn’t established until Albert Bandura’s theory gained popularity in 1977. Bandura’s theory states that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. Thus, our role model concept is born.

Role models in the corporate context are the star performers at work. They are seasoned individuals, within the same job function, that your learners should shadow for optimal results. The more learners collaborate with these role models, the more they will imitate and model their good behaviors.

Social Learning in Corporate Training

Social learning redefines the typical instructor-led training (ILT) experience. Instead of the instructor speaking and learners listening, interactions between participants are prioritized. Because of these interactions, participants share their knowledge and skills with each other. In place of the traditional instructor-learner model, we have a facilitator – better known as a Learning Community Manager – who keeps the social learning ecosystem running. The facilitator understands the importance of employee autonomy and encourages leadership development.

Why are these role models so important?

Role models are important because the way learners perceive their roles during their training period is essential to their development. Through these realizations, learners become more aware of the importance of leadership within their position in the company. Learners become inspired to be more proactive and seek ownership of their growth and skills.

When these role models are introduced to the training process, it creates a sharing culture for knowledge and experiences. This collaborative environment motivates learners to develop further with the help of their peers while still engaging in healthy competition.

The Risk Management Scenario

A great way to practice leadership within the corporate training path is to expose the group to a risk management scenario. Within social learning, the team will collaborate to create a strategy drawn from all perspectives, inspired by the role model(s) in the group.

These diverse profiles offer a nice range of possibilities for risk management strategies. Efficiencies in the analysis, both qualitative and quantitative, increase as well. This activity has the potential to inform company strategy overall.


Ask us how we can apply social learning methods to improve your L&D programs. Contact us.

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