Using media and technologies for flexible workplace learning

Hawkridge, David (1999). Using media and technologies for flexible workplace learning. In: Garrick, John and Jakupec, Viktor eds. Flexible Learning, Human Resource and Organisational Development. London, England: Routledge, pp. 193–210.



Can flexible learning be successfully mediated by technology, particularly in the workplace, and should it be? What do we mean by ‘media’ and ‘technologies’? Which ones are available for flexible learning for or on the job? What are their characteristics? Successful mediated learning depends on the type and quality of interaction the technologies can support, as well as the nature of the content, the symbol systems of the media used and the context of learning. In the workplace, examples show that human-machine interaction must often be complemented by human-human interaction even if mediated by technology. The workplace may support flexible mediated learning or it may seriously limit what is feasible. Learning for the job does not have to be on the job. Learning off the job can be more fully mediated by technology and is usually extremely flexible. But trainees can be exploited by being expected to train in their own time. The success of flexible mediated learning has, as Thorpe argues in Chapter Ten, to be evaluated in several ways. First, are learners able to meet the objectives and, if not, is the educational design at fault? Second, even if learners are able to meet the objectives, is the flexible mediated learning system judged acceptable in political, social, economic and cultural terms? Answers to these questions require an evaluation methodology as yet underdeveloped. Companies seldom publish their internal evaluations. The future of flexible technology-mediated learning for and on the job seems assured, however, because of the strength of the commercial and technological trends that favour it.

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