Next Research Matters Seminar: 30th April 2014 (University of Manchester)

Research Matters: Learning matters in research: a perspective from social learning theory

Etienne Wenger

Wednesday 30th April 2014, 12pm

Ellen Wilkinson Building, Room AG3/4

 

Learning is often viewed as something individuals do as they acquire information and skills. It is usually associated with some form of instruction, often separated from practice. I will present a different perspective on learning, one that starts with the assumption that learning is an inherent dimension of everyday practice and that it is fundamentally a social process. From this perspective, a living “body of knowledge” can be viewed as a collection of interrelated communities of practice. Learning is not merely the acquisition of a curriculum, but a journey across this landscape of practice, which is transformative of the self. Education is then a guided tour of the various practices that constitute this landscape. Research is one of these practices and I will argue that learning matters to research both as a topic and as a method. I will introduce some of the foundational aspects of social learning theory. Then I will present a model of social learning that we are developing for assessing the value created by social learning. This model is being developed for practitioners who want to account for their learning, but it also holds potential as a method for research.

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