Social Learning - Effective Principles

What makes one technique that facilitates social learning more effective than another? This is a question that is becoming increasingly important to find the answer to, especially now when hundreds of social learning software are queueing up to cater to employee needs and training.

Let’s identify the nine principles of good social learning techniques −

Recording Efficiency

Techniques that provide social learning shouldn’t burden the user with the task of recording information. This information should be automatically recorded so that the developer might learn from his past mistakes by simply going through the older versions of the codes. For example, a blog post on Scrum takes minimal disk space, but provides plenty of assistance to people who are tasked with writing codes from scratch by providing them with tons of relevant resources and similar codes.

Privacy Preservation

Techniques that design social learning should safeguard privacy as much as possible. For example, if an author writes about her bad experience in implementing some agile framework for complex projects, then the company said author works for may not want the public to know if the technique did not work. Instead, the author can post her experience with the technique anonymously to maintain the privacy of the enterprise.


There should be focus on people who will gain the most. A post in any personal website regarding a technique used for complex projects in agile framework has a good probability to meet the right people, as it can be looked out on the internet. If a developer fails to understand that her team is having issues in coding, she may not think of searching the technique and thus, may not be aware of the post at all, but if a user needs that technique, then she should be able to search for the post in the website.


They should encourage the developer to believe in the references. When a developer learns about a tool or technique from a colleague, then he gives it a higher value. We’ve learned that people working in a team trust each other, as they have worked together before and have similar goals. On the other hand, a developer who learnt a tool or technology from a book may not trust the author completely as she doubts that the author is more interested in selling books, as compared to the successful implementation of the technology or tool described.


They should ensure rationale for answering questions like why the reference is important for the learner. Say, a blog post on projects in agile framework mentions the issues the author faced and why she believed this technique would help. If a reader of the post has faced similar issues with the same approach, just as the original developer, she may acknowledge the rationale. However, if there are various rationales and the blog post briefs just one, the reader fails to learn why this technique would be helpful for her.

Feedback Efficiency

They should permit learners to share feedback if a recommendation or reference was/wasn’t helpful to them. The feedback should also be provided in sections to reduce time taken to browse through all the text. For example, commenting on a technique blog post by reviewing it as important” may draw a lot of readers to that comment, but it will take a lot of effort from the reader to go through the entire comment to see why and where the recommendation or the reference worked or did not work.

Feedback Efficiency


They should provide advantages of learning without a broad, existing community. For example, learning the ways of efficient working of a large enterprise shouldn’t be provided to someone who operates a single person business.


They should permit the developers to learn different techniques. Readers can learn about different software techniques and innovations from the various interactive tools, as compared to the blogs where the developers are restricted from asking subjective or open-ended questions, as it was not designed to provide that kind of information.

Techniques for balancing and maximizing these principles can be seen as the future of social learning. While it’s not possible to design a single technique that will maximize all of these principles, different situations need to be handled by different techniques and for different tasks. Form the example of blogs we learn that technology can help in facilitating and boosting social learning.

Learning Efficiency

The techniques that simplify social learning should minimize expenditures on learning. It takes time to pick and read databases from a book of databases. Using social learning techniques, there will be no learning overhead enforced on the writer of the book, and any number of learners.

For example, a team frequently misses its deadlines and the manager acknowledges this. The manager goes to the depth over the source code and finds that the reason is the team being subjected to significant technical debt. Thus, the manager encourages and guides the team to counter the issue. This learning acquires essential overhead from the manager who spared time in acknowledging the issue, and also significant time overhead from the team that was spent in learning about the issue and its cause.