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How can a 90 year old theory help corporate learning programs for the modern workplace?

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

What does Lev Vygotsky, a prominent Russian psychologist of the 1930s and modern corporate learning programs of 2020 have in common? Well, it’s simple, but mostly unimplemented; the Social Development Theory!

What is the Social Development Theory and how can my employees learn faster and better with it?

According to Vygotsky, growth of a learner happens at its maximum when there is a significant amount of social interaction involved in the learner’s process. Moreover, if this social interaction is prolonged over a period of time, the learner gains more value and shows higher level of knowledge retention in the long term.

To contextualise this in the environment of modern workplaces, businesses need to reflect the way employees are currently learning and engaging with content designed for their growth. Most employee learning happens through a one-way dialogue; employees are either learning through their screens, or learning through structured corporate trainings. Although these are great in terms of gaining wisdom, there is a significant issue with the long term understanding and application of said knowledge. In this interest, Vygotsky‘s theories are extremely handy to relook at the ways corporate learning programs can be made more effective for employees as well as employers. 

Here are a few ways in which BHyve which can help HR managers and L&D heads take their employee learning experience to the next level using ideas from one of the pioneers of developmental psychology; Lev Vygotsky.

1. Learning happens first at the social level and then at an individual level

Unfortunately, most organisations invest in corporate learning solutions which are more individualistic than social. So while learning recommendations are personalised, they do not take into account the value that human interactions add to the understanding of topics, or developing the level of interest needed to see a learning exercise through. A learner first learns at a social level, which is inter-psychological level. This means, observation based learning and peer based learning are the handiest tools for an employee to learn. 

2. Zone of Proximal Development

Vygotsky’s theories are popular and suitable in the context of corporate learning programs because they focus on the journey of the learner. It happens in 3 steps. Firstly, the employee realises that they lack certain skills and is actively in a position to reduce their knowledge gap. Step two is where they start scouting for an ‘MKO’, a More Knowledgeable Other, someone who can address the identified skill gap and fill it through their expertise. At this juncture, if the organisation can provide them easy and quick access to an MKO, their quest of understanding becomes faster and easier. The key lies in creating an environment where the access to these MKOs becomes easy.

3. Internalising the learning process

With the help of the MKOs within the company, employees start gaining confidence about their learning journey. One of the best measures to know whether the employee has effectively gained expertise is when they can start demonstrating self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their capacity to execute behaviours necessary to produce specific performance attainments. The way to notice this is, when the employees themselves become MKOs for other peers within the firm, establishing a chain reaction of knowledge sharing. 

As workplaces spread across cities, timezones, and experience flexible work-styles, businesses need to look at corporate learning programs that effectively create environments conducive to self-motivated learning. Vygotsky’s theories coupled with modern technology is your go-to solution, and has been the basis of all our work. BHyve, a gamified peer learning platform evangelises the Vygotsky approach and helps achieve organisations a fulfilling employee learning experience. To know more, reach out to one of our experts and schedule a demo. 


#sociallearning #socialinteraction #employeelearning #corporatelearning #peerlearning #learninganddevelopment

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