Social learning is one of the most important dimensions of the learning experience that universities can offer. But what is social learning? Why is it valuable, and how does ChallengeHub enable teachers and their institutions to enhance social learning in their classrooms?

The best way to learn something is to teach it

As every teacher surely knows, the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. For example, in my differential equations class I found that understanding increased more when students could help each other with problems. Say Alice and Bob are two students in my class. Alice has just learned how to obtain exact solutions to differential equations, but Bob is having difficulty. By Alice helping Bob to overcome the difficulty he’s having, Alice is able to identify hidden gaps in her own understanding. Alice also has a better appreciation for the difficulties that Bob is having in learning the concept, compared to a teacher like myself who may have learned the concept many years ago.

With Bob also able to ask direct questions, he is effectively getting personalised tutoring. Of course, I am always on hand to support students if extra help is required or a bigger-picture explanation is desired.

This experience is a key example of social learning, and is something that universities are uniquely positioned to provide. In the case where both “teacher” and “student” are students, this is often referred to as “peer instruction”. What ChallengeHub does is optimise this peer instruction, and furthermore makes it easy to implement on any scale.

ChallengeHub enhances social learning

ChallengeHub takes social learning to a new level by ensuring that the ability of students to help each other is not left to chance.

Imagine that, as a student, you know that by attending class (whether online or offline) you are guaranteed to get an effective, personalised explanation for the problem that you personally have, even if there are 100 other students present.

ChallengeHub achieves this by keeping track of student interaction with ChallengeBot: correct or incorrect answers, the perceived difficulty of those challenges, and so on. When grouping in class is enabled, a proprietary algorithm uses this information to group students for maximum pedagogical effect. Students are automatically assigned to a group containing another student who can provide the help they need. Often ChallengeBot is able to construct the groups such that every student in the group can be a “teacher”; every student gets to experience deep learning by teaching others. This style of social learning scales naturally and effectively even for very large class sizes.

Creating an engaging learning environment

Now that there are many “teachers” in the class, the (professional) teacher has time to focus on what really counts, which reduces stress and makes the class a more pleasant and enjoyable experience. Students also find this form of social learning more fun than studying alone: our surveys show that 80% of students not only find ChallengeHub classes more effective and useful, but also more enjoyable too.

Finally, in a world of growing alternatives to university education and increasing pressures due to the pandemic, the increased effectiveness and enjoyment raises the value of attending university in a scalable and cost effective manner.


At ChallengeHub we strongly believe that effective social learning should be the norm rather than the exception. When this is done on a large scale, higher education institutions become more effective and in so doing add more value to society. ChallengeHub can make this possible, and we look forward to working with more and more institutions to make this vision a reality.

James Cannon

Dr James Cannon is an Associate Professor at Kyushu University.
He is the creator of challenge-based active learning and a founder @ChallengeHub.