Social media did not create social learning

People around neolithic campfire
22 Jan, 2020

I have been fascinated by the number of articles and blog posts I see which seem to equate social learning with social media. There are many who seem to think that social learning didn’t exist before Twitter.

Of course it did. It has been a predominant form of learning for the human species since we became human a long, long time ago. There are many theories about why Homo sapiens replaced the Neanderthals. Most of them include the idea that homo sapiens won the day through its superior ability to collaborate, innovate and learn.

The fundamental ways that we learnt in our early cave-dwelling days are still the same ways that we learn today. These are experiential learning, observational learning, and social learning. And these are the primary components of informal learning whether it is taking place in our personal lives or at work. Evolution has hardwired us to learn this way and we are very, very good at it.

To be sure our modern way of life and the technology we now have available has changed many things about the way we learn but I don’t believe it has really created new ways of learning.

There is a wonderful quote by Michael McClary…

“Irrigation of the land with seawater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It’s called ‘rain’.”

Just think about that quote for a minute and notice you could say something very similar about social media and its impact on social learning.

Social media technology extends the reach of social learning beyond the stories told around the fire pit in the cave to a worldwide audience. It did not create social learning.

My best wishes, Paul

Paul Matthews
CEO and Founder of People Alchemy
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