About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is there (should there be) a difference between workplace learning and "academic" learning?

I am beginning to find out the divide that some people have created between "workplace" learning and "academic" learning. As someone who has helped develop and deliver workplace training and taught for a number of years in business and communication education, I just don't see the disconnect.

Granted, I come from a different perspective than many business faculty and from many in the "training" field. Working on my Ph.d. in Education, I find I am fighting (although not alone) the "trainers" who feel that adult education in the workplace is "different" than teaching at the university level. The main differences I have seen have been in expected assessments (which are becoming increasingly dictated by business recruiters), motivation, and price. However, even in the motivation area, I have plenty of students that really want to be in college and many that don't just as I have had participants in a workplace seminar who only wanted to get out of work or did not want to be in training because they had more important things to do along with those that really wanted to learn what I was teaching them so they could do their job better.

So, what are the similarities?

  1. Relevant content for the student
  2. Student choice
  3. Time for reflection (multiple workshops over a long period of time for the workplace; in class time for students to reflect)
  4. Theory and practice (in other words, a good explanation as to WHY students or trainees should do things differently)
  5. Good classroom management skills and many activities to practice
  6. Feedback
  7. Developing a safe environment to make mistakes and learn from them
  8. Something tangible to take away (a paper, a project, a report, an outline, a check list) that demonstrates what you learned
I was shocked at the line drawn in the Working/Learning Carnival. It was obvious that "academics" were perceived to have nothing to contribute to the "real world". However, I think there needs to be more collaboration between workplace and academic learning specialists especially as there is a greater call to align college graduate standards to business needs. Schools need to start working with the learning specialists in companies to identify what skills are needed and what is working in training, just as learning specialists need to look at what skills are being developed in the "academic" world. Both groups might be surprised to learn what was attempted and what has really worked.


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia Ora V.

Thanks for your thoughts on how you see the divide between “workplace learning and academic learning”. I’m curious to learn more about how you view on this.

You mention that trainers “feel that adult education in the workplace is "different" than teaching at the university level.” Having been a trainer, an academic teacher and a schoolteacher makes me even more interested to learn from you.

My experience as a workplace trainer (I was a workplace computer trainer for 5 years) is that the main difference between the learner in the workplace and the learner at college or university was the time they were allocated to study and work with what they were learning. This, from the perspective of the learners, was very different.

From the perspective of the trainer/teacher the main difference was also closely related to the same thing. Have I missed something here?

I’d be really grateful if you would shine some light on this absorbingly interesting point.

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

V Yonkers said...

Sorry it took some time to get back to your comment. My grades were due yesterday!

Once I wrote the answer to the comment, I realized that I had really written a blog posting, so I will address your question there.

Do you feel your teaching takes the same path?