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The Workplace As An Effective Learning Space Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 4402 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Nowadays society, peoples understanding of learning space is no longer just confined to traditional areas of school education, but extends to all aspects of society. The workplace as an effective learning space, and its learning behavior has arouse widespread attention by educational theory and practice workers. Workplace learning as a form of learning, compared with traditional corporate training, not only improve employee skills to complete certain tasks, improve employee performance, change employee behavior and attitudes, but also to enhance overall quality of the employee, to enhance their knowledge to adapt to globalization and other external and internal environment change.

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Workplace learning is different from traditional forms of learning and training, it connected learner and worker, emphasizing to train the core competence, and get more and more attention. The rapid development of science and technology to accelerate the change cycle of the knowledge,also makes the work of those who need to use extensive knowledge or the main work is create knowledge's employee face enormous pressure to update their knowledge and career development pressure. Especially the knowledge workers retraining and learning become the enterprise very concerned and attention problem.

In the 1960s, the famous American scholars Foster once pointed out: the trainee get the employment opportunities in the labour market and the development prospects of taking office, is a key factor in the development of vocational education.Practical courses should be carried out within the enterprise, As far as possible reduction the distance between the regular school and the actual working situation.If you want to have some professional ability, it is necessary to participate in a solid and extensive vocational training; If you want to keep this professional ability and obtains the success in the future work, we must continue to develop own ability.

Workplace learning is becoming an important form of lifelong learning. Many "soft skills". Such as the ability to communication with others, methods ability, teamwork spirit, initiative and innovative spirit and so on.It's often acquisition in the work of informal learning rather than in formal education and training environment. Workplace learning challenge to the traditional education and the training system in some inherent formed.

The concept of workplace learning

Billet defines workplace learning as:

…is a way to participate in real task and members of skilled guidance of the activities directly or indirectly, acquire knowledge and skills in ways.

(Billet 1993) [1] 

He put the knowledge of the study were divided into three types:

1. The declarative knowledge is the answer to "what it is" of the kind of questions. That the information on what things is. This kind of knowledge learning is the memory process.

2. The procedural knowledge is complete "how do it" of the kind of tasks. Must be demonstrated through practical activities. Such knowledge is the result of repeated practice and practice.

3. The tendentiousness knowledge is decided to "do or not do", "do what". For example. A person not willing to do something is hard to do it well. Do not even do it. Tendentiousness knowledge is the product of individual long-term emotional experience.

In the workplace learning, procedural knowledge often can be directly observed, and conceptual knowledge of the content is rather ambiguous. Orientation determines the first two types of knowledge while knowledge creation, learning and use. Only three types of knowledge with each other in order to become full sense of the knowledge, have real value.

According to the perspective of Mansfield, who defines workplace learning from the angle of skill, workplace learning is study method of learners developing working operational capacity in workplaces(Mansfield 1991) [2] .He points out that four forms of skills are required in work of learners:

technical skill.

task management skill.

the capacity of planning.

deciding,prioritizing and managing emergencies as well as role and environmental skills.

He also stresses that the skill is integrated with important components of comprehension, emotion, value and emotional stability etc.

A German professor Rauner raised five stages from freshman to expert, and each stage which people are moving forward to requires different knowledge:

Know about orientation,general situation,and the contents of basic operation as well.

The knowledge concerning to the occupation, that is to say ,people should assure how to connect this job with the other jobs, and consider the reason why such connection is needed.

Specific and functional knowledge, which refers to knowing the contents involved in a certain specialized work and make sure how it works.

The deep knowledge based on experience includes the investigation on how to explain the relevant jobs in systematically and the further development.

Proceeding from the above stages,the learners' progress in gaining the professional ability from freshman to expert is no more than a process from receiving information passively to more reflection and participation. Besides, the knowledge becomes more internalized as time goes on, which is nearly close to self-construction.( Smith,PJ.&Smith,ES. 2006) [3] 

Freshmanƒ personnel with progressƒ adeptƒ skilled personnelƒ expert

Billet and Mansfield present the definition of workplace learning from the angle of learning results of knowledge and skills etc. with the purpose of establishing a theoretical frame so as to summarize and distinguish each form of learning in workplaces and combine them with work of the employees.

Blended learning in the workplace

Blended learning in the workplace refers to the comprehensive learning activities performed by adults within the workshops for the solution of work problems and the adjustment to the new working environment, including blended working activities, learning activities, learning technologies and learning environment.

Blended learning, the new term takes shape on the foundation of e.Learning reflection features effective combination of traditional learning methods and e. Learning, does not only avoid the disadvantages of traditional learning, but also absorb superiority of e.Learning(Lee&Zhao 2004) [4] .In recent years, there is an increasing number of professional managers and training supervisors in workplaces accepting the concept of blended learning and exploring to put its means into application in enterprise trainings as well as employees' studying. Compared with single e.Learning, blended learning can increase training efficiency, reduce worker cost and decrease training periods(Rossett&Frazee 2006) [5] . Essence of workplace learning lies in blending, for instance, employees can pass on working experience through communication, learn technology through listening and observing colleagues and study new operating procedures by attending trainings.

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In recent years, an increasing number of managers and trainers in North American workplaces start to accept the conception of blended learning. According to the survey conducted by Sparrow in 2004 with the subjects of over 300 training professionals from countries such as America and Britain, more than 2/3 subjects believe that blended learning is the most effective training approach with the highest cost efficiency. Besides, it is forecasted that investment in blended learning will account for 30% of training budget in the companies in 2006. The final target and difficulty of blended learning, the integrated strategy of transferring learning and promoting performance that means dynamic integration of many approaches including combination of formal and informal learning, face-to-face and internet learning, teacher-instructed and self-tutored learning and the digital resource-assisted and aspectant communication and discussion learning, lie in improving studying and performance of the organization and selecting appropriate connections of multiple ways in accordance with specific situations and subjects respectively.

Many American enterprises are conducting practice and exploration of blended learning, IBM, for instance, has designed and developed "Basic Blue" blended learning system applicable for the training of over 30,000 new managers that are globally distributed and constantly on the move, which consists of self-evaluation of online e-learning, online simulation of commercial scenarios, online communities, face-to-face tutor instruction as well as workshop discussion, synchronous/ asynchronous virtual collaboration tools (emails, telephones, instant messaging and electronic white board) and professional e-tutors etc.( Rossett&Sheldon 2001) [6] 

It is obvious that blended learning is a good idea, but is it suitable for all organizations? It is more complicated than traditional classroom instruction at fixed time and in fixed places. In spite of the considerable consensus people have reached on conceptions, namely, significance of learning in workplaces deserves affirmation and its effect can not be ignored, it remains not enough to encourage enterprise employers to decide to increase investment budget in this area with the reasons that it might be a long-term investment career without producing any effects in a short period, meanwhile, it calls for enough and a large number of capital investment, which is only enough to shut some small and medium-sized enterprises out of door. As employers, the attitudes towards educational investment will eventually depend on what kind of investment can produce considerable output, which will on average make the enterprises caught in a dilemma. On one hand, major companies are convinced that learning activities can constantly satisfy the organization's demand for skilled labor force with comprehensive knowledge, which is conducive to enhance their competitiveness in the international market; on the other hand, we can not fully grantee that the expenditure utilized in employee learning and training is bound to create profits and benefits for the enterprises, especially that there exists a phenomenon of frequent job mobility among young employees owing to the function and influence of flexible market, and there is no doubt that they will take away with them all the knowledge and skills learned when they employee conduct resign and job-hopping, which means it is a movement of high risk for all enterprises, especially the small-sized and micro ones to overly invest in employee training.

Take Denmark, the typical country as an example, on one hand, local enterprises on average are not willing to bear the education and training cost because people in Denmark are used to pay in a full manner the cost of continuing education and skill training by public finance, and they are not willing to pay the cost unless it is an education and training program of special significance for enterprises or employers; however, on the other hand, they have to admit that learning content, purpose and approaches in workplaces will indeed pose great influence on enterprises, and accordingly development and implementation of corresponding learning program is good for enterprise development. Therefore, investment in this part will be gradually increased in enterprises. As for that of general education, it will be decreased gradually due to the enterprise's perspective that it will not produce direct economic profits. The above are the double attitudes towards learning produced by companies. However, they will positively prefer to introduce in quantity such learning into enterprises provided that workplace learning can enable enterprises to get some financial subsidies from other aspects.

Learning island

In Germany, the traditional dual training system is encountering unprecedented challenge. Many people are for the opinion that under the mode of dual system, enough attention has not been paid by vocational training to learning and training in workplaces, especially that professional trainings of large enterprises are generally purely consumptive skill trainings conducted by training workshops that are independent from the manufacturing process, which separates vocational training far away from practical production of the enterprises despite that it is conducive to the formation of fundamental skills. However, the significance of learning and training in workplaces is becoming increasingly prominent in modern training system. In addition, the capacity of learning and working in a team can not be taught, which requires the learner to learn as a member of the team. In order to change the situation, large corporations in Germany begin to explore training approach that is closely connected with the process of production in recent years, emphasizing learning in the working process. It is just under this background that the conception of "Learning Island" is introduced to the field of vocational learning and training in Germany.

Learning island, which is a working area established in the actual production environment of a company, marks a component of real production process from whether the spatial perspective or the organizational one. That is to say, it enjoys the same working conditions and procedures for the solution of work and problems with actual production environment. In learning island, the trainees jointly accomplish a certain working task in the production process through cooperation in the form of groups and teams, and the productions they manufacture should meet the quality requirements, namely, they should enjoy economic value. Meanwhile, as the coach personnel, training teachers provide assistance about the problems and difficulties they encounter to the learners [7] .

There are some learning islands establishing in Benz car plant in Gaggenau that are separated areas including producing and educating equipments in the working plant. In the unit of groups, learners there carry out work by taking projects as orientation with the content of scheming producing task, manufacturing certain parts and solving logistical problems. The productions manufactured need to go through quality tests and those qualified will be assembled to the cars. Work of the whole group will be supported by a coach who only coordinates and intervenes when it is necessary so as to maintain the initiatives of trainees. Each group is supposed to accomplish a specific work or task goal within five weeks, the process of which will be fed back regularly to relevant groups in order to encourage learners to seek improvements. With the purpose of providing help to learners in learning island, some employees from the front line of production will be selected by senior workers to take the duty of tutoring personnel, and the production losses resulted from absence of tutors from the first line of production will be fixed by groups in learning island, through which what their work means in an industrial or commercial environment will be confirmed by the learners. Only when serious mistakes happen can the tutors, who serve as contact points of work groups and play the role of advisor intervene with the purpose of maintaining self-governing of the group work as far as possible.

Work-based learning

The concept of work-based learning

Boud, Solomon & Symes describe work-based learning as follows:

…a class of university programs that bring together universities and work organisations to

create new learning opportunities in workplaces. Such programmes meet the needs of learners,contribute to longer-term development of the organisation and are formally accredited as university courses. There is a wide variation in the mix of elements they include, ranging from little more than a lightly tailored version of an existing course delivered in the workplace with some work-related assessment activities to programmes which focus more closely on the needs of learning in work. At the more interesting end of the spectrum are those programmes which depart substantially from the disciplinary framework of university study and which develop new pedagogies of learning.

(Boud, Solomon & Symes 2001:4) [8] 

Work-based learning is designed to use the 'opportunities, resources and experience in the workplace'(Margham 1997:2) [9] . These programs 'link theory and practice and are underpinned by appropriate professional knowledge and reflective practice' (Hunt 2000) [10] . Work-based learning can be organised in a variety of ways and often consists of a hybrid mix of activities, however, they commonly include students undertaking a project or series of projects in their workplace.

The context of work-based learning

The work-based learning is an important component in Dual System Vocational Education in Germany, which has also achieved development in Australia,America, England in recent years.

The development of the work-based learning in Australia

The work-based learning system is developed with the evolution of apprentice system and trainee system, which are powerful in Australia.In the past seven years,under the support of finance and fundamental training programs, there was a great increase in the number of youths and adults who participated in training programs in Australia. In 2000, the apprentices and trainees who were accepting training are 275,000(Smith 2002) [11] .To tell the difference between apprentice system and trainee system, we should have a brief review on the historical evolution of the training system in Australia.Before the mid-1980s,orientation training was the work of traditional apprentice system and involved limited occupations.The Kerribi Report in 1985 suggested a one-year trainee system should be set up for the youths at the age of 16,17.In this system, 20% of time was used in school-based learning, while 80% of time was in work-based learning and the trainees also could receive 80% of the salary.People who participated the training in apprentice system were called apprentice, and in trainee system were called trainee.During 1996 to 1997, the number of trainees surpassed that of apprentices for the first time. Australia officials have ever expected to merge these two systems, and hoped to use Australia Vocational Training System,Modern Australia Apprentice System and New Apprentice System to unite the old names.But in fact , it is difficult to tell the difference between apprentice and trainee in Australia. Generally speaking, apprentice's training time is longer than two years according to contract, otherwise, is trainee. Whatever in apprentice system or trainee system, the core part is the work-based learning.

The development of the work-based learning in America

In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, some areas and school districts or schools have noticed the problems in education so they launched reforms in local areas ,began to introduce the work-based learning and formulated various of models. For example, Georgia stipulated in its legislation in 1992 that any students in the grade of 11,12 or at the age of or more than 16 years old can register one of Youth Apprentice System programs provided by public schools(Smith 1998) [12] .A part of these models was adopted in School-to-Work Opportunity Act (STWOA) of 1994 and was spread through government.

3.the development of the work-based learning in England

The work-based learning of England is reflected in the modern apprenticeship. The traditional apprenticeship was collapsed dramatically in 1970s. The main reason is it had little relation with mainstream educational system. In order to bridge the gap in training employees, the British government carried out a series of vocational training plans from the late 1970s to the late 1980s , however, its youth training plans didn't launched until 1990, and did not achieved success as hoped. Therefore, the British government initiated modern apprenticeship in September 1994. The early modern apprenticeship was applied in 14 industrial departments, and since 1995, its aim was to applied it in all industrial departments.There are three interrelated aspects in British modern apprenticeship:(1)apprenticeship is operated within the framework of contract which stipulates the rights and obligations of employer and apprentice explicitly and detailedly.(2)it includes cultural and social aspects before work and during the working process.(3)it contains school-based and work-based learning system which is an important characteristic of post-war British enterprises' apprenticeship.Thus,the work-based learning is also the center of the British apprenticeship.

The development of the work-based learning in worldwide has proved that it is a valuable and novel learning form in the recent vocational education and it is fully reflected the practicality of vocational education.At present,the extent of the promotion of the work-based learning is different in varied countries.For example,apprenticeship never plays an important role in cultivating skills in United States.And the 1990s' modern apprenticeship did not gain the expected success in rebuilding the descending traditional apprenticeship in England. Compare to US and England,Australia was successful in this.

Conclusion and Reflection

Through the literature review,I have learned that Workplace learning is more than having structure,but a complicated one.However, due to the influence by too many elements,very few people can have full insights into the identity of work and learning and make natures of the two,with respect to learning or work,influence and supplement each other.Instead of maintaining an unchanged state in the whole interning process in workplace learning,the constantly changing environment, individual and different development demands of learners and the formed learning motivations will present a fluctuation in different occasions.Learners are also workers,and vice versa,so as to realize the required role coordination.The workplace-developed knowledge,which is primarily practical one under specific situation, is not public and can be structured only with experience.As a result, experience and reflection serve as its core elements, and it is of great significance for the individuals to participate in the practical process.Workplace learning, which marks a learning activity with instruction owing to the fact that it call for not only initiative as well as independent activity with abundant sense of responsibility, but also instruction and demonstration of experienced workers, allows learners to consolidate their own capacities through more practical operations and expend them with the organic combination of marginal participation and guidance.

Everyday work activities when effectively structured provide opportunities for accessing and constructing robust and transferable vocational knowledge.The qualities of workplaces most likely to secure this knowledge are those that structure activities which assist individuals to move from peripheral activities to those which are more central to the functioning of the particular work practice;that provide expert guidance which presses individuals into accessing more complex forms of knowledge and which explicitly illuminate that which is not readily revealed.

Through the literature review that I know how design of workplace learning mode for enterprises, guide and instruct workplace learning in an effective manner in order to achieve ideal learning effect of workplace learning, satisfy employees' demands of career development and individual growth as well as coming to an agreement with business goals.The workplace is now commonly used as a setting for acquiring vocational knowledge.This situated approach to learning offers access to authentic vocational activities and the guidance of more expert others


Experience is most easy to grasp in practice.So,sharing experience is also a learning.Workplace learning is taught by one person who have experienced to no experience.Interest is the result of the learning experience,learning experience will impact personal education in the future and the development of vocational skills.Although the experience is the base of learning,but without reflection,learning is not complete.In fact,if the individual does not reflect on the experience,or did not consciously learn from experience,the experience of individuals may not learn.


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