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  1. 1. Learning to be a social worker in the 21 st century Lesley Cooper and Joan Leeson Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2. The 21 st century workplace <ul><li>Recognition that learning occurs in every workplace. </li></ul><ul><li>Government policy acknowledges value of workplace learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Changing patterns of technology and competitiveness in global economy demand immediate work skills and workplace knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Job specific skills: to an organization and industry. </li></ul><ul><li>Workers require ability to continuously learn and reconstruct practice in the light of these challenges. </li></ul><ul><li>Linking of individual learning needs with the organization: cannot be provided by educational institutions. </li></ul>
  3. 3. The 21 st century workplace <ul><li>Greater emphasis on ‘learning organizations’ and their continual evolution of practice throughout the workplace. </li></ul><ul><li>The importance of learning with others to ensure competition and innovation in a global world. </li></ul><ul><li>From training (transmission learning) to using the construction and reconstruction of knowledge in work places. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The 21 st century workplace <ul><li>Human service organizations: also respond to competition for funds and other resources and demands for efficacious services eg. foundations. </li></ul><ul><li>Doing much more with much less. </li></ul><ul><li>Structure of agencies changing with less hierarchy, flatter structures, devolution of decision making, increasing number of work teams, collaborative workplaces and cross functional decision making. </li></ul><ul><li>A more diverse workforce; less toleration for workers not adding value (IR legislation) </li></ul><ul><li>What is the impact of these changes on the practicum and the educational institutions’ relationship with the sector and can we maintain separatist structures? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Is what we profess, what we practice?
  6. 6. Paradigm for social work practice education <ul><li>The profession, university and students value learning in the workplace. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus is on instruction, teaching and supervision </li></ul><ul><li>Roles are supervisor, instructor, practice teacher and student </li></ul><ul><li>A one-to-one learning relationship with the instructor only being a social worker </li></ul><ul><li>Development of professional identity </li></ul><ul><li>A professional curriculum, regulated by government, registration boards, or the profession </li></ul>
  7. 7. Paradigm: theory to practice <ul><li>The transfer of knowledge from the classroom to the placement, the acquisition of an application of skills and the development of a professional identity are considered to be the essential learning processes in practice learning regardless of the country of origin (Rogers 1996) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Paradigm continued <ul><li>Approaches to practice learning grounded in psychotherapeutic practice often irrespective of the setting. </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical frameworks based adult education frameworks including Kolb, Knowles and more recently Schon </li></ul><ul><li>Students as learners. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Work based learning <ul><li>Definition of work based learning: </li></ul><ul><li>Acquisition of knowledge and skills by learners as they learn authentic practice whilst being supported by skilled peers and experts (Billett 1994) </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical framework: situated learning and the importance of a community of practice </li></ul>
  10. 10. Situated learning and community of practice <ul><li>Situated learning: Dewey, Vygotsky, Bateson, Lave and Wenger and social construction of ideas and knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>The focus is on how learning occurs and the way knowledge is constructed. It is a dynamic process, that includes talking, responding, interacting, reflecting and thinking about what is happening. </li></ul><ul><li>It happens in workplaces with novices, peers and a range of experts. Knowledge construction in an evolutionary process. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Concepts underpinning situated learning <ul><li>Learning involves the whole person in a complex system of social interaction with others </li></ul><ul><li>We learn from others in a process of guidance, scaffolding and immersion in activities </li></ul><ul><li>We learn through our interactions with others in a culture whether that is a team, office, project group or professional collective </li></ul><ul><li>We learn with others so that practice becomes part of the knowledge of the collective. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Research on work based learning <ul><li>Affordances and engagement in a process of co-participation. </li></ul><ul><li>Unintended and intended learning. </li></ul><ul><li>A process of guided learning (coaching, scaffolding, cognitive apprenticeship). </li></ul><ul><li>The workplace curriculum: a socially organised stock of knowledge in use in the work place as experienced by participants especially newcomers (Billett 2001). </li></ul><ul><li>The work based curriculum has several stages. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Analysis based on changing workplaces and situated learning <ul><li>Learning in workplaces is valued. </li></ul><ul><li>Move from teaching, instruction and supervision to learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Move from transmission and expertise to learners and learning and co-construction of knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>The learner to be at the centre not the supervisor, practice teacher or instructor. </li></ul><ul><li>Review our theories of social work practice education to include situated learning and communities of practice. In addition include understandings of cognition, meta-cognition and human development for adults. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Analysis based on changing workplaces and situated learning <ul><li>Students do learn from every person in the workplace: other students, work groups, other professionals, peers and those with greater expertise. There are multiple learning relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Identity comes from work place culture and from SW’s, the field of practice, the occupational area, other professionals and the community of practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Rethink concept of curriculum: it comprises core occupational skills (problem solving, communication, group work skills) required for all SWs, the regulated curriculum and the work place curriculum. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Analysis based on changing workplaces and situated learning <ul><li>Revalue the constructed knowledge from practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Revisit the separatist nature of theory and practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Revisit placement process by acknowledging concepts of affordances, engagement and co-participation. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Where to from here? <ul><li>Review our mental schemas on social work practice education and re-conceptualize. </li></ul><ul><li>A collective change process for social work educators, profession, industry, and government. </li></ul><ul><li>Higher education has to review its separatist views on learning and respond to the changing workplace. </li></ul><ul><li>International research…in a community of practice. </li></ul><ul><li>An invitation for other researchers and practitioners? </li></ul>