Social learning theory revolves around the concept of students interacting with each other for a common purpose in learning. Employing instructional strategies based on the social learning theory is definitely nothing new to teachers. Most all teachers have seen the learning potential when students are given the opportunity to collaboratively construct meaning. However, what is new are the advances in Web technology and the unique and important role it plays in cooperative learning. “Now students can collaborate through the Web with other students in their school, subject experts, and multiuser game players. They can even collaborate across the globe!” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).
Technology resources such as multimedia, Web resources, simulation, and communication software facilitate group collaboration by providing structure for the tasks and allowing members to communicate anytime, anywhere.
Revolution (http://educationalarcade.org/revolution) is a multiplayer 3D game where players interact with other players and townspeople as they proceed through events that foreshadow the American Revolution. Simulation games give students the opportunity to experience actual historical events as if they lived during that time period. “Gaming simulation is an interactive learning environment that makes it possible to cope with complex authentic situations that are close to reality” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).
Del.icio.us (http://del.icio.us) is a shared bookmarking web site that allows both teachers and students to set up their own social bookmarking site to share Web sites, music, books, and more for cooperative learning projects. Students can create online learning communities by sharing Web links, resources and calendars.
ePals (www.epals.com) is a web site that facilitates communication and project-based learning between students in different cities, states, and countries. Students can increase their knowledge about different cultures, languages and issues by learning firsthand from other students around the world.
“Ask an Expert” Web sites allow students the unique opportunity to ask and receive expert advice from professionals currently working in a particular field. The Web offers students direct access to experts in almost any subject areas imaginable from scientists to authors to Olympic athletes and technology experts.
Technology provides a natural environment for social learning by facilitating opportunities for communicating, collaborating, decision-making, problem solving and constructing meaning. Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, (2007) offer the following, “To be prepared for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit, today’s students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively.”
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.