02 SES 01 B, Work-Based Learning
Work-based learning (WBL) is, at root, about relationships between the fundamental human, social processes of working and learning. The process of defining and scoping the field of work-based learning brings oppositions, tensions and exclusions to the fore. In offering expanded definitions of WBL, bridging embedded workplace learning perspectives and those that frame WBL as a class of programmes, this paper renews the argument for an inclusive approach that expands and rethinks the field. Theories and perspectives cluster in ways that are of significance to an inclusive understanding of interconnectedness of work-based learning, modes of practice and organisational dynamics. Dominant clusters have focused respectively on cognition/expertise (e.g. Eraut 2011); on the textures of practice (e.g. Gheradi 2015 ) and on organisational learning and change processes in collaborative networks (e.g. Elkjaer & Wahlgren 2005; Toiviainen, 2018) with critical theories bringing insights that problematise and challenge some of the dominant assumptions in both (Sawchuk 2011). This introductory paper argues for a more dialogic approach in which robust lines of inquiry in different domains are opened more fully to an exploration of overlaps, gaps and points of connection. The international contributions in the symposium exemplify points of connection, as work-based learning is re-imagined in smart pegagogies for social capability (Maslo,Latvia); is reflexively reconfigured by digitalisation (Ertl, Germany) and deepened through higher vocational learning (Laczik, Emms, Kersh and Huegler). Furthermore, it is suggested here (more fully in Evans 2020) that there is as yet unrealised potential in a dynamic social ecological approach that allows the relationships between work and learning to be explored through the dynamics of different scales of activity: societal, organisational and personal. While the agency of the learning individual is significant for work-based learning, a social ecological approach avoids the pitfalls of individualistic interpretations by capturing the interdependent, relational and contextually embedded processes involved. The value added by adopting a social ecological approach will be discussed.
References: Eraut, M. (2011) How researching learning at work can lead to tools for enhancing learning. In Malloch,M., Cairns, L., Evans, K. and O’Connor, B. The Sage Handbook of Workplace Learning. London: Sage. Elkjaer B., Wahlgren B. (2005) Organizational Learning and Workplace Learning — Similarities and Differences. In: Antonacopoulou E. et al. (eds) Learning, Working and Living. Palgrave Macmillan, London Evans, K. (2020) Learning Ecologies at Work. In Barnett R. and Jackson, N. Ecologies for Learning and Practice. Abingdon: Routledge. Gherardi, S. (2015). Organizational Learning: The Sociology of Practice. In Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management (eds M. Easterby‐Smith and M.A. Lyles). Sawchuk, 2011 Researching Workplace Learning: An Overview and Critique Toiviainen, H., & Vetoshkina, L. (2018). Learning for the complex object of work in a digital printing network. Studia paedagogica, 23(2), 25-42.
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