A critique of workplace learning discourses: Participation in and continuity of practice.
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This paper proposes that current discourses on workplace learning restrict how it is conceptualised and discussed. Describing workplace learning environments and experiences as 'informal' and proposing that 'informal learning' occurs in workplaces constrains understanding how learning occurs through work. Instead, learning experiences in workplace are structured by historical, cultural and situational factors and that this structuring influences how and what is learnt. As in educational institutions, there are intentions for work practice, goal-directed activities that are central to the practice's continuity as well as interactions and judgements about performance shaped by their practice. These workplace affordances shape the kinds of activities individuals participate in and the guidance they can access and from which they learn. It is therefore incorrect to describe learning through work as being 'informal', as this structuring shapes learning and often has inherently pedagogical purposes associated with continuity of the practice through participant learning. Also, describing learning in workplaces as being either 'formal' or 'informal' suggests a situational determinism that de-emphasies the role of human agency in the learning process. Linking both individuals' agency and workplace goals is continuity through learning. It is proposed therefore that learning in workplaces be conceptualised in terms of participatory practices focused on continuity.
Knowledge demands of the new economy
Copyright 2001 Australian Academic Press. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Use hypertext link to access the publishers website.