Social Learning vs. Social Networking

People often confuse social learning with social networking. Social learning is not exactly the same as logging in to some account, and browsing through disparate topics, or posting a query and waiting for someone in your contact to provide the answer. Let’s analyze both these cases. When you browse through different links and news topics, what you are doing is getting information on things that you find interesting, but may not be what you wanted information on. In other words, what you experienced wasn’t learning, but knowledge.

When you post a query and wait for an answer, it is more information gathering than learning. Social networking sites were not conceptualized or designed for social learning, hence they lack instruments that can track information, sample it, and make comparative reports on them to see if some actual learning has taken place. That’s the reason comparing social learning with social networking is a poor analogy.

Social Learning software, on the other hand, not only provides a purpose and focus to learning, but also tracks your progress and provides a normalized assessment of the achievements of your efforts. Most people who opt for social learning are looking for very specific information, or are interested in honing a very specific skill-set.

They are not into knowing random stuff from different categories. In other words, you could say that those who want to learn something to build their careers are interested in social learning, whereas those who are into leisurely reading opt for social networking.

Larger number of doctors, engineers, architects, and journalists are getting educated online through technologies like Virtual Classrooms, Electa Live, etc.