Creating a Framework for Future Learning: A Two-Pronged Social-Technological Approach

Creating a Framework for Future Learning: A Two-Pronged Social-Technological Approach

Kelly R. Elander (Harding University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1238-8.ch012

Abstract

This chapter proposes the use of a two-pronged framework to reinforce, support, and extend learning far beyond the classroom. This approach uses a community of practice (CoP) in conjunction with an online resource tool called an Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS). The CoP begins in the classroom, whether physical or online, during higher education or training and is intended to continue throughout the person's working career. The EPSS, an online data storehouse of sorts, also provides ongoing benefits, since its content can be continually updated and expanded. The EPSS can be accessible on desktop or mobile devices and could potentially allow for user-generated content.
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Introduction

Higher education and workplace training have worked over recent decades to make learning for their specific audiences and situation very carefully crafted, in-tense, and purposeful. But in today’s world where people move from job to job and information requirements change frequently. Future employers will want employees who can:

  • Remember what they have learned in the past.

  • Be able to successfully apply past learning and newer insights to current real-world jobs.

  • Keep learning and developing skills throughout their lives.

This new emphasis is growing and seen in efforts like those in the European Union to targeted lifelong learning as a competency (Hozjan, 2009). Multinational and global businesses and organizations need people who are willing and able to continue learning and developing throughout their lives to supply their workforce. This challenge will generate new tools and approaches.

How can lifelong learning within disciplines and across different disciplines be accomplished? This chapter proposes a framework that combines two successful learning support strategies already established into a single, two-pronged social-technological approach to enhance future learning. One prong is a community of practice (CoP). The other prong is an electronic performance support system (EPSS) which provides ongoing learning resources.

In the chapter that follows the background of the two approaches in the framework will be discussed. Issues or problems that have been historically raised about these two approaches will be presented and addressed. The structure, implementation and purpose of each prong in the framework will be laid out, with examples. Finally, there will be some recommendations about how the two-pronged framework might be further examined and researched.

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Background

For many centuries educators have wrestled with how to teach in such a way that learners would be able to remember what was learned and successfully use those facts, skills, and principles after graduation and on throughout their lives, and various situations (Ormrod, 1999, Perkins & Salomon, 1992). This concern in education and job training is often referred to in terms of “the transfer of learning” (Bigge & Shermis, 2004). Applying past learning, experience, and knowledge is no longer simply targeted to the post education or training work setting but far beyond, to future jobs and even lifelong learning (Hozjan, 2009).

Many approaches have been suggested to help improve the immediate transfer of learning for learners and workers. The framework being proposed in this chapter uses two such approaches to increase this transfer of learning far beyond the immediate context.

The first approach to transfer is a community of practice, is based on the age old idea of an apprenticeship model where learners observe and try out their new skills in new situations under the supervision of experts, until the experts feel the learner has developed sufficiently to practice on their own (Lave & Wenger, 1991). The process of observing and then imitating has long been a historical instructional approach, whether connected with behaviorism, social-constructivism, or social learning theory.

This apprenticeship approach was revived with a new emphasis in 1990’s by proponents such as Lave & Wenger as part of what they described as situational learning (1991). Situational learning and the related concepts grew in influence into the 2000’s as part of the constructivist learning approach. Lave and Wenger felt it was important to place the process of watching and doing back into real-life or “authentic” settings instead of a classroom. However, Lave and Wenger also connected with the idea of professional communities of practice surrounding this apprenticeship process. This approach took on a life of its own and generated quite a bit of interest in business and systems thinking circles (Wenger & Snyder, 1999, Wenger, 2008). Communities of practice continue to this day to be a methodology of transfer, including in online environments (Elander, 2017, Trust & Horrocks, 2019). As the “community” learns new ideas and skills so they also share these with one another so the whole community keeps on learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cooperative Learning: A learning approach that advocates for learning in groups where each member of the team contributes their part of the assignment so the whole group can be successful.

Community of Inquiry (CoI): One particular model of learning from Garrison and Andersen that recognizes the relationships that occur between teachers and learners and between learners. The COI model says that learning will be successful when there is a Teaching Presence, Cognitive Presence, and Social Presence created in the collaborative activities.

Transfer of Learning: The ability of learners to take knowledge created in one setting and apply it correctly to any other settings.

Connectivism: A learning approach introduced by George Siemens that suggests that each person has a network of people, resources, and the Internet, itself that embody knowledge and experience. When a learner wants to know about a topic, he or she does not have to undergo a formal learning process but rather can reach out and access the desired information – much like people do today with the world-wide web.

ARCS Model: John Keller’s motivational model that stresses that in order to motivate learners activities need to gain a learner’s Attention, show a Relevance to the learner’s life or situation, be communicated in a way that learners feel Confident he or she can learn the information, and make learning Satisfying.

Collaborative Learning: A learning approach that advocates for learning in groups where the members of the groups need to interact and discuss and create assignments together.

Knowledge Management (KM): Is the practice in business and education where past work experience is documented in a database so that learners will be able to access examples similar to their current situation and be able to learn from past experiences.

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