The Learn@Work Socrates-Minerva Research Project 2005–2007
What did it do and what happened with it since?
The expert group which contributed to the state-of-the-art report for the project was drawn from academic staff working on the project in the four higher education institutions (Jaszewski, Reich, Georgsen, Nyvang, Young and Murphy) and the staff of the consultancy partner company ATiT (Binjens and Vanbuel). The title of the report – State of the Art Work Based Induction Training in Europe: Collaborative Research into Supports for Induction of New Workers using ICTs and Supports for Induction of Worker-Learners to E-Learning – reflected the complexity of the project’s aims and perhaps the tensions in understanding of precisely what the project was trying to achieve. The aim of the report was stated as ‘to identify current European good practice in the use of ICT work-based learning ... to determine the “state of the art” with an emphasis on how the holistic interaction of pedagogical, organisational and technical elements to aid student engagement, interaction and long-term learning’.
Defining ‘induction’ and ‘support’?
The exercise of writing the state-of-the-art report exposed the varied definitions partners were attributing both to the term ‘learning at work’ and to the term ‘induction’. A continuum of definitions was required to enable each partner to locate their technology-enhanced pilots comfortably within their normal education and training activities. The process of induction training for new employees using ICTs was at one end of the continuum, developing ICT skills among low-skilled workers was at mid-way, with the development of ICT packages to ‘induct’ worker-learners into higher education pedagogies and processes was at the other end. As an inclusive, if compromise, definition the text below may indicate the strain after consensus of meaning:
Learn@Work regards induction (that is, the early supported experience of the educational process) as being particularly critical, but recognises that induction may actually extend throughout the programme. Induction may involve new employees, but may also include established members of the workforce who have to acquire new skills due to job change or transfer. Learning in the workplace implies a wide range of learning situations and learner groups, and consideration has to be given to the different social, cultural and material contexts in which online support and development occurs. Learn@Work directly tackles the key issue of providing a framework for the induction and support of work based learning using ICT, allowing institutions to look in confidence to new educational processes which include the delivery, communication and assessment of Work-Based Learning.
(Binjens and Vanbuel 2007: 7)
The report clearly forecast that achieving a common induction model as promised in the project aims would be problematic and that a wide range of contextually appropriate products were likely to emerge thus enhancing rather than limiting the project outputs (Binjens and Vanbuel 2007: 8).