Introductory Videos

Introduction to Social Learning (watch on YouTube)

David Joyner introduces Social Learning as part of Pedagogical Styles.

Joyner, D. & Udacity. (2016). Pedagogical Styles: Social Learning Introductory Video. Retrieved from

Introductory Resources

Social media tools and systems for learning

This is Chapter 5 in the Social Learning Handbook 2011. It's about how to best implement social learning strategies. The work is aimed at using social learning strategies inside an organization for training. She advocates looking at social media in non-traditional way for more successful outcomes. The Social Learning Handbook was updated in 2014.

Hart, J. (2011). Social Learning Handbook 2011. Center for Learning and Performance Technologies, UK. Retrieved from

Social media tools and systems for learning

Chapter 4 of the Social Learning Handbook 2011 describes tools and systems available for social learning. The educational aspect is for employees more than students, but could be applied there, too. The Social Learning Handbook was updated in 2014.

Hart, J. (2011). Social Learning Handbook 2011. Center for Learning and Performance Technologies, UK. Retrieved from

Social Learning: An Introduction

This article starts with the genealogy of social learning theory. Then it describes social learning theory in relation to online education activities, tools and roles. It closes by suggesting a path forward for social learning and online education.

Venable, M. (2011, July 14). Social Learning: An Introduction. Retrieved from

Social learning: an introduction to mechanisms, methods, and models (Chapter 1)

This is the first chapter in a scholarly book on social learning. It provides definitions and foundations for understanding social learning and the ideas presented in the rest of the book. Although it uses a lot of references, there is no bibliography in this version of the document.

Hoppitt, W., & Laland, K. N. (2013). Social learning: an introduction to mechanisms, methods, and models. Princeton University Press. Retrieved from

Bandura - Social Learning Theory

Using three of Bandura's original papers, McLeod provides an overview of social learning theory. Bandura took operant conditioning and classical conditioning and added observational learning and mediating processes to come to the complete theory in 1977. McLoed closes with a critical evaluation of social learning theory, which may also be found in later literature as Social Cognitive Theory.

McLeod, S. A. (2016). Bandura - Social Learning Theory. Retrieved from

Social Learning Theory

The basic concepts and modeling process are described. Social learning is described as including traditional learning theory and operant conditioning. Albert Bandura is credited with being the founder of social learning theory. This article is part of a larger group of articles about learning.

Sincero, S. (n.d.). Social Learning Theory. Retrieved April 25, 2017 from

Scholarly Readings

Social Learning Theory

MANY theories have been advanced over the years to explain why people behave as they do. Until recently the most common view, popularized by various personality doctrines, depicted behavior as impelled by inner forces in the form of needs, drives, and impulses, often operating below the level of consciusness.

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory.

Growing Primacy of Human Agency in Adaptation and Change in the Electronic Era

The extraordinary advances in electronic technologies and global human interconnectedness present novel adaptational challenges and expanded opportunities for people to shape their social future and national life. The present article analyzes these pervasive transformational changes from an agentic theoretical perspective rooted in the exercise of perceived personal and collective efficacy. By acting on their efficacy beliefs, people ply the enabling functions of electronic systems to promote their education, health, affective well-being, worklife, organizational innovativeness and productivity and to change social conditions that affect their lives. Technology influences, and is influenced by, the sociostructural nature of societies. The codetermining sociostructural factors affect whether electronic technologies and globalization serve as positive forces that benefit all or divisive ones in human lives.

Bandura, A. (2002). Growing primacy of human agency in adaptation and change in the electronic era. European Psychologist, 7(1), 2.

Examining Social Presence in Online Courses in Relation to Students Perceived Learning and Satisfaction

Research has demonstrated that social presence not only affects outcomes but also student, and possibly instructor, satisfaction with a course [1]. Teacher immediacy behaviors and the presence of others are especially important issues for those involved in delivering online education. This study explored the role of social presence in online learning environments and its relationship to students’ perceptions of learning and satisfaction with the instructor. The participants for this study were students who completed Empire State College’s (ESC) online learning courses in the spring of 2000 and completed the end of semester course survey (n=97). A correlational design was utilized. This study found that students with high overall perceptions of social presence also scored high in terms of perceived learning and perceived satisfaction with the instructor. S

Richardson, J., & Swan, K. (2003). Examing social presence in online courses in relation to students' perceived learning and satisfaction.

Identifying the pitfalls for social interaction in computer-supported collaborative learning environments: a review of the research

Computer-mediated world-wide networks have enabled a shift from contiguous learning groups to asynchronous distributed learning groups utilizing computer-supported collaborative learning environments. Although these environments can support communication and collaboration, both research and field observations are not always positive about their working. This article focuses on factors which may cause this discrepancy, centering on two pitfalls that appear to impede achieving the desired results, namely taking for granted that participants will socially interact simply because the environment makes it possible and neglecting the social (psychological) dimension of the desired social interaction. It examines the social interactions which determine how groups develop, how sound social spaces characterized by group cohesion, trust, respect and belonging are established, and how a sense of community of learning is established.

Kreijns, K., Kirschner, P. A., & Jochems, W. (2003). Identifying the pitfalls for social interaction in computer-supported collaborative learning environments: a review of the research. Computers in human behavior, 19(3), 335-353.

Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era

The two-way Web has arrived, accompanied by a raft of affordances that expand how we teach, communicate, learn and create knowledge. New trends are emerging in the way information is distributed and consumed. Emerging “Web 2.0” services such as blogs, wikis and social bookmarking applications, as well as social networking sites like MySpace, Friendster and Facebook, are seen as more social and personal, and based on “microcontent”, i.e., digital content in small fragments that may be combined and recombined by individuals to produce new patterns, images and interpretations. This paper investigates the affordances of Web 2.0 and social software and the choices and constraints they offer to tertiary teachers and learners. A discussion of emerging pedagogical models is presented to demonstrate that we now have access to an enabling suite of tools to support greater learner choice and self-direction.

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. (2007, December). Social software and participatory learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. In ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007 (pp. 664-675).

Social Learning Theory in Second Life

One of the current trends in distance education is the use of multi-user virtual environments (MUVE) as a training platform. MUVEs are being used for both formal and informal online learning. Second Life is a popular MUVEs being used for education today. Teaching and learning in Second Life requires a paradigm shift by educators, researchers, and learners who must adapt to a new environment of teaching and learning. Although things are done differently, many traditional learning theories can apply to Second Life. Examples of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory in Second Life are explored in this paper.

Smith, M., & Berge, Z. L. (2009). Social Learning in Second Life. Journal of online learning and teaching, 5(2), 439.


Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura OC (/bænˈdʊərə/; born December 4, 1925) is a psychologist who is the David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University. For almost six decades, he has been responsible for contributions to the field of education and to many fields of psychology, including social cognitive theory, therapy, and personality psychology, and was also influential in the transition between behaviorism and cognitive psychology. He is known as the originator of social learning theory (renamed the social cognitive theory) and the theoretical construct of self-efficacy, and is also responsible for the influential 1961 Bobo doll experiment.

Hyo Gweon

An assistnat professor in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University

Kathleen Corriveau

Kathleen Corriveau is an Assistant Professor in Human Development. Her research focuses on social and cognitive development in childhood, with a specific focus on how children decide what people and what information are trustworthy sources. She is also interested in language and reading development, cross-cultural differences and the role of parenting in children’s social and emotional development.

Oregon Social Learning Center

The Oregon Social Learning Center is a non-profit, collaborative, multidisciplinary research center dedicated to increasing the scientific understanding of social and psychological processes related to healthy development and family functioning. We apply that understanding to the design and evaluation of interventions that strengthen children, adolescents, families, and communities.

Social Learning Lab - Stanford University

We learn about the world by drawing rich, abstract inductive inferences that go beyond what we can observe, and what we observe often originates from representations of the world that reside in other people’s minds. What we know about the world is therefore heavily mediated by what others know about the world, and importantly, we also have the ability to affect what others know by sharing our own knowledge with them. In our everyday interactions with people around us, we seem to have an intuitive grasp of what kind of information to seek and to provide.

Social Learning Laboratory - Boston University

In the Social Learning Laboratory, we research children’s use of social and cognitive information when learning about the world. During the preschool period, the child’s social horizon expands dramatically. Increasingly, they can learn from teachers and peers as well as from their immediate family. An issue central to both social and cognitive development is how children navigate these diverse sources of information. An understanding of the cues that facilitate learning in young children can inform classroom practices, interventions, and the provision of digital information.

Ongoing Projects

Argument Complexity

Explanations are an essential tool for a child to learn about the world. We study the effects of expertise and the quality of an explanation on who a child believes is a trustworthy source. In this study, children are shown a video of two girls, of whom one is dressed up as a scientist. They provide either circular/bad or non-circular/good explanations about several scientific phenomena and later on they say the names of some novel objects that the child has never seen before. We look at whether children trust the scientist more simply because she is a scientist, or whether they trust the informant providing the good explanations more. This study takes about 10 minutes.

Children's use of consensus information

This is a short five to ten minute study where kids watch videos about someone doing an action (specifically crushing a cookie). We then see whether or not the child follows the model’s choice in the video or decides to use a different tool to crush the cookie. Another similar task is done, and later we ask the child to teach a puppet how to crush the cookie. The child will get a sticker for completing this five minute study.

Emotion Regulation

This study focuses on whether emotion regulation affects a child’s performance on an executive functioning task. In the first part, the experimenter plays a block game with the child, where the child imitates pointing to a certain block. The child then chooses the gift they would like to receive later, but the experimenter prepares a different/unappealing gift for them. Afterwards, the child plays the block task again. So far we have found that children perform significantly worse during the second part because they are trying to suppress their negative emotions about not receiving their favorite gift, and this affects their performance. This study takes about 10 minutes.

Eyes Task

Previous research shows that the presence of another person, specifically an angry eye gaze, affects children’s performance on various tasks as it increases arousal. Therefore, we are researching whether a picture of angry eyes, compared to a picture of flowers, affects a child’s performance on executive functioning tasks. We let children play two computer games, one involving matching shapes and colors and the other involving judging the direction of a fish. We then measure their reaction time and number of correct answers for each task. So far we have found that children’s performance is worse when they are shown the picture of the eyes rather than when shown the picture of the flowers, which supports previous research. This study takes about 30 minutes.

Mother Interaction Study

We are currently conducting a study in our lab space looking at mother-child interaction. Specifically, we focus on the types of questions children ask, the explanations parents give and the follow-up questions that children ask. This study involves the child and mother playing with some novel toys and reading a book with strange events. Later on, the experimenter presents some strange stimuli (e.g. hat with a hole) to the child and depending on whether the child asks a questions, provides them with either a good or a bad explanation. Later on we introduce the child to a puppet that asks questions about the strange stimuli and we see whether the child has learned from the previous explanations. This study takes about one hour and is videotaped.

Self Regulation Study

In this study, we look at how children learn self-regulatory strategies from a model. Children first observe a model playing a game with the experimenter, which involves waiting for a nicer bigger sticker or ringing the bell to stop waiting and only get one small sticker. The model uses waiting strategies like pushing the sticker away or singing. We then let the child play the same game and a novel game and see whether they imitate any waiting strategies from the model. This study takes about 15 minutes in total and the child’s behavior will be videotaped.


TOPYX provides award-winning social learning tools that will make a real difference.

Tubes Study

The child is shown different sets of tubes and told one tube is blocked so the marble can’t go through and the other tube is not blocked so the marble can go through. When deciding which color of tube to choose, the child gets help from two puppets. The oral puppet asks her friend and says one certain color and the text puppet reads the color off an envelope in front of the tubes. We expect pre-readers to prefer the oral puppet and readers to prefer the text puppet.

In the Media

Social Learning Company Koofers Raises $5 Million From Revolution, Others

Social learning startup Koofers today announced that it has scored $5 million in Series A equity funding. This round includes Revolution, created by AOL (yes, our new parent company) co-founder Steve Case, and Nigel Morris‘ QED Investors with participation of the company’s existing investors, New Atlantic Ventures and Altos Ventures.

What is Social Learning? (watch on YouTube)

This is the first video in a three part series exploring the concept of social learning.

Stanford Teams Up With Piazza, Apple To Bring Social Features To Its iTunes U iOS Development Class

With over 700 million downloads, Apple’s iTunes U has been a massive success, but unlike other new online learning services like Udacity or Codecademy, it’s missing a social component where students can ask questions and learn from each other. Apple, Stanford University and the Palo Alto-based startup Piazza have now teamed up to bring Piazza’s social learning platform for students, TAs and professors to the next session of Stanford’s highly popular iOS development class on iTunes U. This is a first for iTunes U and Piazza and Stanford worked closely with Apple to get a link to the course’s Piazza site embedded in iTunes U.

New Research Explores Social Learning and Collaboration in Online Courses

Across the country, colleges and universities are either starting to offer MOOCs (massively open online courses) or strategizing about how they might do so. At the same time, teachers and scholars of education are increasingly aware of the importance of collaboration and peer learning. How can students work together in this new generation of online courses? And how can the online systems support and encourage peer learning? A new School of Information research project aims to answer these questions and more.

Grockit Ditches Test Prep for Social Learning

GigaOM reported that San Francisco-based Grockit is selling its test prep assets to Kaplan (a subsidiary of The Washington Post) and "abandoning its founding purpose all together." Not quite, says Grockit founder Farbood Nivi. "The founding purpose of Grockit was social learning," he stated in an interview with EdSurge. "Learnist is, for me, an even greater representation of the vision I had in mind when I started Grockit."

Social Learning platform Declara raises $16M

Declara uses analytics and machine learning to create learning paths for individuals.


Online Learning: Courtney Drake (watch on YouTube)

David Joyner interviews Courtney Drake, Product Manager at Udacity, about building communities in the Udacity environment.

Joyner, D. & Udacity. (2016, June 6). Online Learning: Courtney Drake Interview. Retrieved from