Bate, F., & Steketee, C. (2006). Social interaction in corporate e-learning: When is it necessary?. The Knowledge Tree e-journal, 8, 1-19.
This article examines the role of social interaction in the implementation of an e-learning tool targeted at off-shore site safety in the oil and gas industry in Western Australia. The elearning tool, essentially a set of self-paced activities and resources, strongly contrasts with traditional instructor-driven safety inductions that are the norm in the oil and gas industry. During 2005, over 200 participants engaged with the e-learning tool, and this article summarises participant and management perspectives on the effectiveness of the implementation strategy, with particular reference to the limited role played by any form of social interaction, including facilitator intervention. It is perhaps paradoxical that the research that spawned this article is firmly grounded in a social constructivist perspective. However, the authors argue that socially constructed learning, particularly in competency-based settings, does not necessarily imply or require social interaction or indeed facilitator intervention. Where learning objectives are limited to uncomplicated understandings, it is suggested that social interaction is not strongly valued in participant or management conceptions of good practice e-learning design. The authors advocates e-learning as a way to stimulate engagement in learning processes that encourage thinking, reflection, reconceptualisation of ideas and meta-cognition - cornerstones of social constructivism - and argues that e-learning can still be effective in settings that are devoid of social interaction.