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Another take on informal learning and social learning

Came across an interesting article yesterday on social learning theory and Second Life (Smith, M., & Berge, Z. L. (2009). Social learning theory in Second Life. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5(2), 439-445).

Bandura had reached my peripheral vision a couple of times before, but I hadn’t followed up, but this article made interesting reading.  It takes what the authors see as the 3 key components of Bandura’s social learning theory – observational learning, imitation and behaviour modelling – and considers how these might apply in a virtual world context.

What struck me first about the article – though I haven’t yet looked at any of the originals – was that social learning theory appears to be based on the idea that we learn from others through our interactions in a social context. This clearly has relevance for a virtual social world – it is Boellstorff’s observation that most SL users are there for social reasons. Although Smith and Berge apply the model to formal learning situations within SL, it looks as though it is probably equally applicable in informal learning. Taking it together with SDT, suggests a way of looking both at how people learn and why people learn.

Yesterday, I registered a new avatar, principally because I wanted to check the current registration arrangements and in particular registering into a different orientation space. I was surprised just how many orientation experiences are now on offer – probably 40 plus – including several using languages other than English. Unlike the Linden Labs orientation, these are all based in PG areas which are accessible to existing SL residents as well as new.  It might be possible to either do observational stuff in one of these spaces with appropriate permissions or to become a mentor.  I’m beginning to see some possibilities…

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