David Livingston’s talk at Research Methods for Informal Learning

David Livingston’s talk in the afternoon


Broadcast via video.

Proposing that enabling approaches are more fruitful than evaluative apporaches for researching informal learning.

He’s referring us to the website www.learningwork.ca for details of californian studies

Starts by pointing out that we’re becoming more and more formally educated. More of us are spending more time in organized schooling in every year. This is the context. So looking at people with different levels of formal schooling, what else are they doing.

The more schooling a person has the more adult education a person has.

However the vast majority are engaged in intentional informal learning activities and although those without a deploma tend to report slightly less, this is not really a large number.

David thinks that the most interesting thing about this finding is the fact that we’re all so similar in our reported informal learning.

Next slide demonstrates that engagement in formal learning diminishes with age but informal learning does not.

Mesures of learning are always limited.

Patrick asked question about whether our govt was right to stop funding people who already had one degree.

David replied that the historical pattern for dealing with employment problems was education. Correspondence between economic growth and increased education led people to believe that more education led to economic growth.

Now, increasing education is not leading to increasing employment.

David’s solution is change the job structure. Increasing job democratisation, creation of new types of green jobs, redistribution of work time to eliminate polarisation between those that work too much and those tha do not work enough to meet their needs.

This requires imagination and political will. 

So, arguing for more education in general will not result in better economy. Solution is not to wind down educational institutions or have them concentrate on accountabil;ity to more marginalised populations, but rather concentrate on economic reforms rather than educational reforms. Educational institutions need to respond to the variety of needs that the populations have. Develop resources etc that will allow people to come to them throughout their lives. Sounds just like openlearn. I wonder if that was Patrick’s motivation for the question? Good question anyway.

David re-iterates that we cannot expect educations to have the answers to everything.

Mike Sharples – In papers and talk, David talks about deliberate informal learning. Does he make any distinction between deliberate ad non-deliberate re: supporting serendipitous informal learning. Wonders why in papers he’s always talked about deliberate informal learning.

David has done this carefully in order to recognise that the iceberg of learning is substantially below the surface. We can only ask people about what they are aware of. Peoples self-reports will only give us answers about what they are aware of.  So….can I get around this with my geocachers. Possibly through careful analysis of the web-site and the cache descriptions and logs as well as through the forums. Hmmm

Tony question : Does he think that informal skills undervalued in job adverts which ask for qualifications and experience

David: 70-80% of knowledge used in our job is gained informally, from mentoring by older workers etc. Basically, yes informal knowledge of workers and people generally is underestimated and underappreciated by employers. More attention could be paid to portfolio profiles in job applications. But generally informal learning underestimated in job applications.

About Gill

Having worked as a Research Fellow with the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, I have now semi-retired but retained my association with the OU as an Honorary Associate.
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