Our extensive experience in the delivery of direct community services and also many years in the field of adult learning has provided us with the opportunity to spend time reflecting on what constitutes good practice. Reflecting on our work, exposing it to rigorous scrutiny and critiquing it against evidence-based theory is a team process that is highly valued by our staff.
The following principles are intrinsic to the Institute's approach to education and learning.
Creating an organisational culture of learning is a key ingredient in developing and extending skills for individual workers. Without a culture of learning, staff development tends to be ad hoc and disconnected from core organisational goals and issues. It often has limited applicability to the real work context. Organisational cultures that value people and the quality of relationships between people, provide the foundation for effective practice and equally for effective workplace learning. Organisational culture, like other cultural identities, is a living, continuously evolving experience rather than a static or fixed position. Actively shaping organisational culture is part of the workforce development process.
Recognising and valuing diversity
To build relationships of respect requires an ability to both recognise and encourage diversity and differences among staff within the organisation. Team work and shared understanding is a vital aspect of a learning culture and this should encompass the ability to sustain different view points; integrate vastly different life experiences; and know that 'one size' does not fit all.
Learning is a process that takes place in many sites and is not restricted to formal training sessions. Actively developing learning practices that suit specific work roles and contexts requires a broad understanding of the multiple ways learning can take place.
Building on strengths
Skill development occurs most thoroughly and effectively through positive interactions that draw on existing strengths and abilities. Recognising existing skills provides a positive framework for the identification of required new skills and knowledge. Without recognition of existing skills, the introduction of new skills can become a negative experience for the individuals involved.
Generating knowledge and skills within the workplace
It is not uncommon to seek external input to solve internal problems. It is also not uncommon to seek 'expert input’ when developing specific organisational responses or initiatives. However, engaging staff in the generation of organisational skills and knowledge is a crucial part of learning. Inviting teams and individuals to contribute to the articulation of organisational practices and skills and to linking policy with practice, creates a genuine learning environment. This is not to imply that the external or ‘expert’ input is not of value. However, ‘expert’ input needs to be directly related to specific learning needed by teams and individuals within the workplace.
Linking workplace learning to formal training
Clarity about workplace learning practices facilitates the formal recognition of workplace learning. Through the development of explicit learning approaches within the workplace, individual staff members can achieve nationally recognised competencies and work towards qualifications by relevant Registered Training Organisations.
These beliefs inform our approach to workplace learning in clearly identifiable ways. Put simply, there is a match between who we are, what we value and the ways in which we go about our work
Our training is tailored to the needs of particular people and their work context. We believe that the most effective learning takes place when learners are engaged in the processes of identifying relevant training content and meaningful assessment of learning outcomes.
The learning culture that we facilitate enhances both professional and personal confidence so that people are able to become fully engaged in the generation of knowledge and contribute more effectively to their professional context.