Social interaction is a catalyst for adult human learning in online contexts


This article was originally published here

Curr Biol. Sep 7, 2021: S0960-9822 (21) 01159-3. doi: 10.1016 / j.cub.2021.08.045. Online ahead of print.


Human learning is highly social.1-3 Advances in technology have increasingly displaced online learning, and the recent 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) has accelerated this trend. Online learning can vary depending on how ‘socially’ the material is presented (eg, live or recorded), but there is limited data on what is most effective, with the majority of studies being conducted. on children.4-8 and inconclusive results on adults.9,ten Here, we examine how young adults (aged 18-35) learn information about unfamiliar objects, systematically varying social contingency (live or recorded conference) and social wealth (visualization of the face, hands or teacher slides) of learning episodes. The booster was tested immediately and after 1 week. Experiment 1 (n = 24) showed better learning for the live presentation and a full view of the teacher (hands and face). Experiment 2 (n = 27; pre-recorded) reproduced the benefit of live presentation. The two experiments showed an interaction between social contingency and social wealth: the presence of social indices affected learning differently depending on whether the teaching was interactive or not. Live social interaction with a full view of the teacher’s face provided the optimal framework for learning new factual information. However, during observational learning, social cues may be more cognitively demanding.11 and / or distracting,12-14 resulting in less learning from rich social information if there is no interactivity. We suggest that being part of a true social interaction catalyzes learning, possibly via mechanisms of joint attention,15 middle ground,16 or (inter) active discussion, and as such interactive learning benefits from rich social environments.17,18.

PMID: 34525343 | DOI: 10.1016 / j.cub.2021.08.045

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