Why social constructivism trumps traditional training

by John Hilton26 Apr 2016
Staff training at the online education provider Swinburne Online is less about someone standing up in front of everybody and telling them what they should be learning.
In fact, it’s more about encouraging learning through conversation and discussion amongst employees, according to Shanyn Payne, General Manager of HR at Swinburne Online.
The idea is to have someone from HR or another member of the executive team weave and thread those discussions so that the staff end up learning from each other, she added.
At Swinburne Online, social constructivism involves having individuals construct knowledge through social processes such as the sharing of ideas or through conversation.
“I think back to earlier in my career, 10 years ago, and there was this master/servant model of training where someone would stand up in front of a group and tell them what they had to learn. You really don’t see it that much anymore,” said Payne.
“It is definitely now more about workshops and social constructivism and people learning from each other with someone to facilitate it and be the knowledge base there.”
Payne added that this method also recognises that good ideas can come from anywhere.
“We have tried to create an environment here where people can challenge each other and their opinions are sought. When you run a lot of styles of workshops it’s what you do with those ideas that’s really important,” she said.
“You can run all the workshops you want but if you don’t actually take those ideas seriously and do something about them then they are not effective at all.”
Whereas at Swinburne Online, the ideas that come out of those workshops help inform growth strategies for their business.
“Our culture is one of approachability and feedback. We listen to our employees about how they like to be trained,” Payne added.
Despite the rise of e-learning, face-to-face learning is still very important for Swinburne Online.
“When we deliver face-to-face training for our office-based staff we then always think about how can we adapt exactly the same thing for our remote staff,” she said.