innovation and learning: Challenges for the actors (Barry Nyhan)
other thesis which comes out of the work we have been doing (see contribution)
is that the implementation of learning organisations raises serious challenges
for vocational education and training and human resource development actors.
The issues here are that organisational learning is something outside of
the vocabulary of many people in education. Education is more about individual
learning, qualifications and formal systems, so the concept of dealing
with this chaotic organisational learning is something that for a lot of
professionals in VET and also to a certain extent in HRD, is a challenge.
For people engaged in the VET system, which is a rather complex system
to start with and very heterogeneous, in future there has to be much more
focus on engaging with untidy social environmental learning, where we have
lots of complex relationships, complex ways of teaching, illustrated by
what Nick was talking about (see contribution)
and Alan came up with (see discussion).
So there is this kind of rediscovery of all sorts of unanticipated learning.
Learning is often taking place outside the training department. This raises
issues about interdisciplinarity and boundary crossing between the world
of VET and HRD. These two groups of people are often grouped together,
but they have very different value systems and different practices and
different interests. So the interconnectivity between these two groups
in a pragmatic and not an ideological type of dialogue, which it often
turns into, is an issue to be addressed. The whole business of developing
social learning systems outside of the school system, like learning organisations
in industry, but also in community systems, in educational and public systems,
that's another issue to be addressed.
Also, just a comment on the role of researchers. There is a tendency among
researchers – even though Alan Brown spoke about a different kind of dimension
where the researchers are the innovators (see discussion)
– but there is a tendency among researchers to just adopt a purely critical
role of being able to deconstruct what's going on. This is purely objectivist,
a strong tradition of research: the researcher has to be detached from
the question that is being researched. But there is another minor tradition
which is for the researchers to be advocates. This dispels the neutrality
of research which is a big debate and hotly contested issue. This entails
researchers working with practitioners being a kind of critical reflector,
being on the same side rather than just knocking the many failures that
are going to take place when people engage in complex challenges like changing
the way learning takes place.
Finally, and this is just a comment I heard from a Dutch expert in knowledge
management. He was referring to all those 'gurus' who come in to a knowledge
based company. They are not going to the HRD people, nor to the VET people.
They are creating another world of interconnectedness, they are talking
to some other strategic planners in the organisation. So it's a different
concept of knowledge, of learning. The HRD people in this context are not
participating in this new way in which knowledge is developed. There is
an issue about a repositioning and reintegration of what I would call European
values. I would be a strong advocate for the German Beruf concept as giving
people a certain security in a chaotic social system. But obviously one
has to be open to realities rather than holding on to something that cannot
resist the inevitable change that is going to take place.
included in Manning 2002a; paper: Nyhan
et al. 2002
of the symposium