Tag Archives: workplaces

Working and learning in networks

I’m currently pulling together various thoughts on issues surrounding organisational design, networks and workplace or occupational learning. Initially, I’m drawing on:

the notion of learning networks, defined by Sloep (2008) as: “online, social network that is designed to support non-formal learning in a particular domain” to frame a discussion of the use of social technologies for workplace learning and the management of knowledge. In particular, the affordances of social technologies in enabling learning outcomes traditionally seen as vicarious by-products of work activities to be captured and made explicit as micro-learning objects (Peschl 2006; Schmidt 2005), will be explored in the context of professional learning that focuses on responding to complex and ‘wicked’ problems (Margaryan et al, 2013).

From this, I’m looking to explore


… how technology enabled learning networks act as mechanisms for personal professional competence development. How might or how do professionals combine and use self-selected digital tools to support the integration of work and learning as Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) (Pata 2009; Ralagopal, et al 2012) and approaches to Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) (Redecker 2009)?

So I *think* the argument I’m developing is that increasingly for *some* occupations, workplace learning is in practice operationalised as a ‘web of relations’ (Fenwick 2008) within and across organisational and professional boundaries and so the long-standing practices of L&D functions are increasingly redundant in this context. By extension, I’d suggest that there are various implications arising form this for much higher education provision: for example, is the privileging of knowledge content really justified, can the assumptions that students are effective learners in such a context justified, where or what may indicate knowledgeable authority in such a context?

Mobile learning at work

An interesting post from Graham Attwell on mobile learning that quotes Donald Clark:

Training Magazine’s annual survey of US L&D professionals shows that just 1.5% of training was delivered via mobile devices. That’s right, after about 7 years of hype and discussion we’ve reached 1.5%. That’s not leaping. That’s trench warfare.

The issue here is partly framed in terms of the Learning and Development function that remains in a training course mentality rather than supporting workplace performance and situated knowledge development, generation and sharing. Graham makes the interesting point that the potential of mobile tech is in supporting an environment of learning and …

to link learning that takes place in different contexts. That mean linking formal learning to informal learning. And to link learning that take place in vocational schools, in training centres and in work.

But this potential is not realised, in part due to the attitude of employers or their failure to understand how such technologies are being used anyway by their workforce:

A recent survey we undertook on over 500 construction apprentices in Germany found that whilst over 50 per cent said they used their mobiles for finding information related to their work or training, only 20 per cent said their employers allowed them to do so. They said that they used the devices in their breaks and lunch time. And in construction I would argue that mobiles are a working tool anyway. So part of  “establishing good practice in our organisations for finding information and experts and for sharing information”, is a task of awareness raising and capacity building with companies for them to realise the potential of mobile technologies for their organisation.

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.




sociability of enterprises

An interesting post here from Idris Mootee on how social media can by-pass hierarchies and sources of inertia as a communications/ dialogue and collaboration channels. As he points out, its the smart companies that get this, which I take to really mean the smart managers, executives and people – afterall, it can be one thing to set up the infrastructure but the quality of what happens is down to the people. But of course, social media appears to be a mechanism to realise the rhetoric.

This is reflected in the specifics for HR by Graeme Martin here. Altho’ the potential of social media as inherently democratic is a debatable one. Also, as this article here makes clear, technology is an enabler – a major enable – of such sociability, but is not a necessity.

Changing jobs

My blog routines have become even more erratic of late – the reason being a spate of job applications, interviews etc. The result is I’m moving to a new job next month – its an academic role so very different from what I’m used to and know (at least I assume it’ll be very different!). As a result, some of the focus of this blog may change (but probably not a lot). More to follow (a) when I’ve been on holiday and (b) when I’ve started in the new job.

Change is good!

Democratic workplaces

The WorldBlu list of the most democratic workplaces for 2008 is announced here – thought it might be of interest. Nice to see a good mix of sectors and sizes altho’ the list appears very US centric – a reflection of reality or the method for contructing the list?