Using Discovery Based Learning for Employee Training

It may surprise you that discovery based learning isn’t a new idea, despite the fact that it is in recent years really gaining popularity. In fact, this learning model was pioneered by Jerome Bruner in the 1960s. Now, this is significant because while the 1960s were a time of revolution for a lot of social dynamics and philosophy, they were a bit of a dark age for how learning was handled. So, that such a now-appreciated alternative learning model was actually founded in such a time is rather interesting. People interested in this model should know that aspect, as it’s pretty significant.

But, we’re not here to talk about the history of discovery-based learning, we’re here to talk about why it’s such a viable solution for employee training. There are a couple aspects of this to consider, so let’s address them in order.

#1 – A Case against Traditional Classrooms

The problem that’s leading to these various new learning models being so popular is that the traditional classroom model is awful. This old model is based after the ancient Prussian models designed in the seventeenth century, and man, it shows. The reason average children hate school is because it’s tedious. It lacks engagement, it lacks agency, it lacks empowerment.

It’s worse for busy professionals. They already live the oppressive working life we’re all eventually pulled kicking and screaming into, so they don’t really want the tedium of classrooms, something they traded for the new tedium with which they live. They’re out of school – they don’t want that homunculus to return, and the lack of engagement and agency this forces just adds insult to injury for an adult.

#2 – Empowerment

Learning by discovery is a great way to provide the kind of empowerment which a classroom pretty much sucks away. When an employee can learn by first detecting the problem or need for knowledge themselves, and then are able, under their own power and discretion, to obtain the knowledge needed, this is uplifting and engaging. No rigorous standards for how the information was obtained were forced on them. They figured it out themselves.

This provides engagement through genuine problem solving, and it also provides a sense of agency, since it calls on their own creative thinking for how they personally handle discovering the information they need. This is quite the opposite of classrooms.

#3 – Flexibility

Discovery models like this also work well with additional new techniques such as gamification (quite obviously) as well as organizational learning models.

#4 – Summary Skills

Finally, on top of whatever knowledge or skills which are being taught in this training, additional skills, or reinforcement of existing ones, will arise from this model. The problem solving, information discovery, and team-based problem solving dynamics that come from this more free-handed model of training will directly transfer to their daily work lives.

When problems arise in their professions, they will have the instincts to spot these problems, creatively obtain information on solutions, and they will be able to use real teamwork to handle this in ways that a classroom wouldn’t have passively taught them to do.

Discovery based learning is the best core model to ensure engagement, agency, and to instill the skill of actually thinking, not just absorbing dispensed information. Anyone not learning from this model is missing out. Especially for employee training where problem solving is something everyone should be adept at!

Relevant information ia available on benefits of employee training page.

Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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