Tag Archives: knowledge work

Professional learning, informal learning and ‘wicked’ problems

This is a diagram I’ve drawn based on Peter Sloep’s Chapter on Networked Professional Learning in Littlejohn, A. and Margaryan, A. (2014) Technology Enhanced Professional Learning: Processes, Practices and Tools. London: Routledge:

Learning, creativity and knowledge work


I’ve posted previously on Peter Sloep’s work on learning networks. I found this chapter to be a useful analysis of the concept of networked learning in relation to professional learning specifically (and that’s an important distinction). What the diagram attempts to summarise is that professional and knowledge-based integrated work and learning tends to take place where learning is predominately informal (as needed and highly situated) as professionals are addressing ill-defined and complex work problems. Such problems require (interdisciplinary) professional knowledge creatively applied. Valuable professional knowledge work and valuable professional learning takes place through tackling ‘wicked’ problems. 

So how might learning and development functions and professionals best support and enable learning in these wicked problems? Does professional education currently develop the creative and meta-learning capabilities required for working in and on wicked problems?

LinkPool [14112012]

A few links that have recently caught my eye:

Modernising Universities: a report on a House of Lords debate on HE in the UK. What struck me here was a sense that the UK was isolating itself from opportunities to respond to emerging trends in the wider economy as well as in education – notably in terms of internationalisation through UK student studying abroad (as opposed to international students studying in the UK) and from exploiting existing frameworks, especially credit awarding schemes, to enhance the flexibility in the delivery of and access to higher qualifications.

Linked is this post on the “liquid economy” which states:

Instead of organizing our work, communications, and social ties around slow-forming, slow-changing, and inflexible crystalline work matrices, the liquid economy is based on an increasingly quick-forming, quick-changing, and flexible liquid medium for work, based on streaming social communication models, and a hybrid sociality where an increasing proportion of connections are short-term and reliant on swift trust.

Now the House of Lords report on HE suggests the Universities are just not set-up and managed to operate effectively in such a ‘liquid’ economy. In part, this issue underpins some of the recent critique of current higher education provision including a recent article discussing  what recent developments in digital education might mean for universities. Steve Wheeler discusses self-regulated learning as emphasised in social and digital learning along with self-determined learning – heutagogy – in this post. Self-determined learning tends towards treating learning as an inherent human trait which I agree with at one level but also think that learning to learn is an important focus of what education can and should deliver – that is, may be what HE should be focused on is less on subject knowledge but more on the meta-skills of critical judgement, information and digital literacies – the ‘how’ of learning. But that would signal a major change for many (not all) universities and mark the end of “crap” lectures – to quote a student from The Guardian article.