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APOSDLE - work, learn, collaborate

Update to APOSDLE Approach to Self-directed Work-integrated Learning

This deliverable gives a comprehensive overview of the APOSDLE approach to Self-directed Work-integrated learning. In several deliverables written over the first two years of the project this topic was addressed in a distributed manner. Since this made it difficult for people not part of the project to understand our approach and background we made the effort to provide here a fully integrated perspective on work-integrated learning and how it can be supported. Specifically, this deliverable is the result of the tight integration of two previously separate deliverables: D2.8 “Review of general applicability of learning support over domains” (lead UT, now mainly comprising Chapter 5) and D3.5 “Contextualized Cooperation Concept Version 2” (lead FHG, now mainly comprising Chapter 6).
This updated version is a further and final revision of the integrated deliverable (D2.8 & D3.5). It now also includes the final concept of contextualized cooperation led by FHG, which was integrated through the addition of section 6.2.4 “Social Aspects of Cooperation”. This section considers social aspects and behaviour of knowledge workers and their influence on knowledge sharing in general and cooperation in particular.
The other chapters were left unchanged and describe our common understanding on knowledge work, work-integrated learning, and the overall approach to support them (lead KC).
It starts with outlining how the project conceptualizes „knowledge work?. Following the argumentation of Kelloway & Barling we see knowledge work primarily as an individual, discretionary activity. Thus, knowledge work is characterized as being a dimension of work, not an all or nothing property. To study it, one should focus on the use of knowledge in the workplace and not on properties of individuals or jobs. Next the notion of workplace learning is taken up, more precisely defined as work-integrated learning. It is seen as being truly integrated in current work processes and practices, making use of existing resources with the main goal of improving work performance. In terms of Eraut & Hirsh: learning activities located within work or learning practices. Work-integrated learning is mostly self-directed, meaning that the learner is empowered to take responsibility for their own learning activities, to choose means that allow them to carry out various learning activities and to choose access to various learning resources. In this sense the learner is her own instructor. During this self-directed learning, several learning functions must be carried out by the learner: preparatory functions, executive functions and closing functions. In addition, during work co-workers and other knowledgeable persons are very important sources for learning.
Our design of work-integrated learning support is firmly grounded in the above mentioned theories which together define the design support space for APOSDLE: supporting the learning functions in the context of using (a) written resources and (b) human resources. These resources have to be utilized to support learning activities within knowledge work (acquisition, creation, transfer, application of knowledge) within the computational environment and by taking mediating (ability, motivation, opportunity) and predicting (leadership, job design, social interactions, organizational culture) context factors into account. This design work is made even more challenging given the fact that APOSDLE is intended to be a generic system, not tailor made for a specific task or process and a specific knowledge domain. More in particular this means that APOSDLE has to deal with real time learning, a real computational environment and content already available from the repositories in an organisation.
For using written (or material) resources we especially draw from work by Simons and outline possible support solutions. At the basis lies the notion of a generic information or learning need (or goal) that drives self-directed learning and is linked to work tasks. This generic learning need is linked to available written material trough the notion of the role a piece of information can play when people want to learn: its material use. For example, a definition, an explanation, a procedure. Based on these two concepts hints are provided that can guide the learner. Furthermore, to support extended learning, learning paths can be created that provide a route through the knowledge domain, taking into account prerequisite knowledge.

For using human resources (knowledgeable persons) a cooperation model is developed that describes the phases of a cooperation process: pre-cooperation, cooperation and post-cooperation. Templates containing the essential features of the information that must be available and transmitted during cooperation are described in detail. Moreover, attention is also paid to how learning that takes place in a cooperation process can be made available to the wider organisation by using the notion of cooperation spaces. Finally, actual cooperation is supported by cooperation scripts that guide the more low level communication between the learner and a knowledgeable person. These scripts are needed to make this communication more fruitful. Research has shown that without these scripts, knowledge exchanges tend to deteriorate, or will not take place at all, although scripting might have some disadvantages like disturbing and didactising collaborative interactions (as signalled by Dillenbourg).
Finally attention is paid to how an organisation can find out if APOSDLE could be a suitable solution for workplace learning. A questionnaire and associated decision guidelines are provided.