Human connection and learning: Understanding and reflecting on the power of the social dimension for learning.

Stephanie J. MacMahon
Vol 40, Number 1, p.15
Human connection is fundamental to learning. Through social interaction, we consciously and unconsciously share a range of states with others in the learning environment which assists us to understand one another and the experience. Underpinning this sense of connection is a phenomenon known as social synchrony – an innate capacity that allows us to connect with and understand others. The nature of this connection is represented in the quality of the learning environment, and is colloquially referred to as the ‘vibe’. We’ve all sensed it in our own classes or our own learning experiences in the classroom, but does it impact learning and, if so, how can we manage it to promote learning? These were the practical questions as an educator that drove my initial research into human connection and learning in school contexts. Using a science of learning lens, I wanted to understand the factors that contribute to this ‘vibe’, the strategies that we could use to enhance it, and the indicators of its quality. The findings have not just informed our understanding of classroom learning environments in schools, but also the role of human connection in learning beyond the classroom, into the workplace, in online environments, and across the lifespan.