The Answer Lies in the Importance of Work-Based Learning
Today’s post was inspired by an article I read in Harvard Business Review in which the author spoke about the advantage medical schools have over business schools because most medical schools are affiliated with hospitals, allowing students exposure to real-world and real-time situations, in contrast to inserting business students into real-world managerial situations which are more challenging.
Now, as the author points out, while it can be disconcerting for patients to put their lives in the hands of individuals who are still learning their profession, the medical profession supervises its trainees, giving them enough autonomy to learn while minimising the chance they harm their patients.
The author goes on to talk about how Harvard Business School has long used case studies as a method to project students into the role of managers solving problems and, while acknowledging case studies as a very effective tool, also recognises the limitation for business students who can only imagine how they’d tackle a problem, whereas medical students are facing real-life health concerns. The author goes on to talk about a curriculum change Harvard is undertaking to close this knowing-doing gap through work-based learning.
What is work-based learning?
“Work-based learning (WBL) is an educational strategy that provides students with real-life work experiences where they can apply academic and technical skills and develop their employability.”
“WBL programs are targeted to bridge the gap between the learning and the doing through work placement and informal learning on the job.”
“Work-based learning strategies provide career awareness, career exploration opportunities, career planning activities and help students attain competencies such as positive work attitudes and other employable skills.” (Source Wikipedia)
The Harvard article resonated with me because of a meeting I had recently with a previous colleague who is now working with a leading university on Work Based Learning. The university has pioneered an Institute for Work Based Learning which partners directly with individual learners and organisations to create bespoke programmes from certificate through to doctorate level.
Additionally, they have partnered with two leading Business Schools by way of collaboration on the delivery of training. This initiative is further supported by the Work Based Learning Research Centre they’ve established, allowing real-time understanding of the relationship between work practice and learning within organisations together with development needs in line with UK policy and international demands.
This is an area of further interest for me because many organisations have cut back on their training and development budget as a result of the current economic situation. Many have come to recognise the adverse impact this has had on their corporate growth strategy, particularly as many of these organisations have gone through downsizing and restructuring exercises and, as a result, have lost valuable employees, causing intense pressure to the ‘survivors’ to not only steer through everyday challenges and increased workloads but also improve their skills and learning to allow them to perform in line with the needs and demands of their roles and organisational development.
Organisations always say employees are their most valuable asset, but slashing training budgets doesn’t convey that message and is incongruent with that philosophy. Surely the benefits of work base learning is the solution to enable individuals and teams to bridge that knowing-doing gap that would support their organisation in achieving their business strategy.
Check Out Middlesex University London for further information on their learning programmes.
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Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint.
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You can view the complete collection of books here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning. These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.
That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.