Some jobs will require that a person continue his college education and some will require learning that can take place on the job in order to acquire the needed skills.
on-the-job training can take place in several forms. An outside training firm can be brought in to the company to hold seminars on a relevant topic for the employees. In this environment, the social nature of learning could be one of camaraderie or competitiveness among the adult employees. The adult employee wanted to get ahead may try to excel and outperform his coworkers to increase his chances of advancing. On the other hand, the environment could be more of a friendly social nature while everyone is learning. They may be asked to work in groups, much like in a college classroom setting. This will allow them to collaborate and perhaps learn about new skills they can acquire from their coworkers. Also, if workers are from different departments and aren't necessarily familiar with one another, this opens up another opportunity for learning among adults. The social aspects allow them to meet other employees from different departments while they get a chance to learn about what others do within the company.
Learning in the environment can also take the form of a worker learning new skills on the computer. Many times, if any employee is being trained for a different position within the same department, he is usually taught by the person who is relinquishing the position for another one. The act of training someone on computer processes is very social even though it pertains to learning a new job. This is because the person teaching the skills is sharing his knowledge with the new learner and although it doesn't appear to be social learning, it is. Communication is key in this setting because the trainer must ensure that the trainee is absorbing what is being taught. It is also a good environment for learning because it is one on one and a person who is not likely to ask questions in a large training setting is more apt to ask questions and give input when the training sessions is between two people.
This type of setting also allows for the trainer to possibly learn new skills from the trainee. Although he is the one training the person for the new job responsibilities, the trainee may know of computer skills or shortcuts that could make the easier and increase efficiency. The two adults are learning from each other and the computer in this instance. This type of training is ideal because it provides for social interaction as well as the chance to learn a new skill. Many employers embrace the concept of on-the-job training because there are no outside costs involved with bringing someone in who is not employed by the company to train. Also, what better way to learn a new job than to be trained by the person already in the position?
Adults can also learn computer skills on the job if the employer provides self guided tutorials to help the employee improve his computer skills. Many companies offer basic tutorials in the Microsoft Office Suite or other computer programs that the employee can take advantage of during lunch breaks or after hours. Although this type of learning may not seem very social in nature, many people learn best in this type of environment because they are allowed to go at their own pace and have not worries of not grasping the information and thus slowing down a whole classroom.
Many adults spend more time than their children watching television. In recent years, there has been an influx of reality television shows. There are also television stations such as the History Channel as well as the Discovery Channel which provide interesting and informative programs on subjects that we may find ourselves interested in just by flipping through the channels. It is through these television channels that we can watch biographies on such people or families as the Kennedys. or, we can learn about global warming and what effect it will have on us and future generations in the coming years. These are the types of issues that we can share with our family members or coworkers and it may be information that they previously didn't know, yet we are in a social environment and learning from one another. This is proof positive that learning does not always take place in the classroom.
Many studies have been done on the social learning process for children. With more and more adults going back to school to either finish or further their education, we need more studies on the social aspects of how adults learn. We know that there are different forms and that learning doesn't always take place in the classroom for adults. Schmidt says that people learn "through talking, observing, modeling, collaborating, sensing, responding emotionally and having physical experiences in their environment" (2008). In order to better understand the social nature of learning for adults, we must grasp this concept and then begin to build upon it.
Cameron, David. (2010). Adult learning and the way it inspires people is crucially important. Adults Learning, 21(9), 16-17.
http://www.learning-theories.com/vygotskys-social-learning-theory.html (Accessed on June 22, 2010).
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/bandura.html (Accessed on June 22, 2010).
Schmidt, Laurel. (2008). How we don't learn. Leadership, 38(2), 10-14.
Tsai, I.-C., Kim, B., Liu, P.-J., Goggins, S.P., Kumalasari, C., & Laffey, J.M. (2008). Building a Model Explaining the Social Nature of Online Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 11(3), 198 -- 215.