Small business pedagogic practices.
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Understanding how learning for small businesses should best proceed constitutes a worthwhile, yet challenging, pedagogic project. In order to maintain their viability, small businesses need to be able to respond to new practices and tasks. Yet small businesses seem neither attracted to, nor to value, the kinds of taught courses that are the standard pedagogic practice of vocational education systems. Small business operators commonly view these courses as being irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccessible. Therefore, identifying the kinds of pedagogic practices that meet their needs and offer effective learning outcomes is a useful project. This paper reports and discusses the findings of a study of how 30 Australian small businesses learnt to implement a new practice: a recently introduced goods and service tax (GST). Interviews were used to understand the pedagogic practices that supported the learning associated with implementing the GST. In most cases, the process of learning comprised a movement from an initial reliance upon external contributions to a greater independence in practice premised on capacities residing within the small businesses. The key and most commonly reported contributions were those provided by localised support and expertise (e.g. experts such as affiliates, accountants, consultants, family, other small businesses). Localised support was potent when it assisted in identifying the goals for learning (e.g. the scope and requirements of the task) and the development of capacities to operate independently, as well as supporting and monitoring the progress with this innovation. A model of learning in small business was generated and validated through further interviews with small businesses. The model illuminates the need to go beyond the orthodox pedagogic practice of vocational education and training to consider options, such as localised learning spaces as the key source of small business learning.
Journal of Vocational Education and Training
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