Design considerations for a systemic approach to technology-supported professional learning

Charitonos, Koula; Littlejohn, Allison and Kaatrakoski, Heli (2021). Design considerations for a systemic approach to technology-supported professional learning. In: 19th Biennial EARLI Conference EARLI 2021, 23-27 Aug 2021, Sweden.


In light of emerging complex issues at global scale, the main aim of this paper is to argue for professional learning to be positioned as a systemic concern to enable the active and critical participation of professionals in dynamic and ‘fluid’ work settings affected by such issues. Adopting this view of professional learning, we present a study which examines professional learning in the context of antimicrobial resistance, a major global challenge concerning the increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotic medicines. The data to support our claim of the paper stem from an empirical study that involved the design, development and evaluation of two pilot technology-supported professional development programmes for professionals involved in the surveillance of AMR in low-to-middle income countries. We draw on socio-cultural and cultural-historical theories (CHAT) (Engeström, 1987) to discuss how tensions between elements of the local, national and global systems around AMR surveillance serve to frame considerations for the design of the two programmes. We also draw on interviews (face-to-face or online) with participants in the two programmes (n=12 and n=8 respectively) to synthesise evidence how these design considerations led to benefits for these professionals. Our analysis offers new evidence that by attending to appropriate learning design we can create links between professionals involved in AMR surveillance with the social and cultural contexts in which the activity occurs, and also connect local knowledge with emerging global knowledge. This paper can help inform the design of technology-supported programmes for professionals who deal with emerging, complex problems at work.

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