The goldmine of adventure

Learning Processes within or beyond 70:20:10

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Introduction

Learning in practice plays an important role in “Talented development”, the mission of Landstede. This information is for teachers, coaches, practice supervisors, programme managers, landscape managers, teacher educators and management of Landstede, intends to enhance better use of learning in practice. We ought to help every teacher in making his students’ learning in practice more effective.

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Where do 70, 20 and 10 stand for?

The 70 refers to “working = learning”, the 20 to “working together =

learning” and the 10 to “formal learning”* . Apparently these are three learning places: the work floor, the team and the school. Besides that, the suggestion is while 70 is more than 10, ‘working = learning’ is of more importance than the rest. Our point is that the three learning places include three fundamentally different learning processes and that all three are necessary.

Often formal learning is perceived as instruction. Is that correct? What is ‘formal learning’ for example at Landstede, a senior secondary vocational college in Zwolle, the Netherlands? The program consists of proximal 30 percent (real or simulated) practical work and 70 percent theoretical work (tasks or instruction). And what is “work = learning” in practical situations for apprentices of Landstede?

Most times their working means applying a routine, and the learning is graining in the skills of that routine. Sometimes, for example after a calamity, time may be taken for reflection on that adventure, after which the adventure becomes a perception. These perceptions may be elaborated and turned into experience.

So, adventure may become experience through a process of procedural learning. Most time however adventures come as an sensation and go unutilised. We think that this is a waste: in our conception of education reflection on adventures, experiences and after that the formulation of learning questions is a necessary and fruitful way of organising learning processes.

Learning from practice may yield experience and context knowledge. Usually this learning would be called procedural learning (here and now). The learning process requires guidance of reflection on adventure in practice. Learning from what teachers master yields insights and skill. Usually it would be called declarative learning (from scientific sources). The learning process requires instruction. These are two differently guided learning processes in the venue of 70:20:10.

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The core of the message

The core of the message is that gold can be gained from reflection on adventure. Learning in practical situations is digging in a goldmine. It is hard work, but worthwhile. When hitting the right vein, something special happens with the motivation and learning process of students. However, a guiding teacher cannot know where the gold is to be found. The teacher may find it through the reflection of the student.

Quotes:


“This is much nicer; it is also a lot of work but I do not have to struggle anymore, the students are motivated by themselves” (teacher that works with students in a practical situation where they work on real assignments).


“It was not until last year I really learned a lot, because then we really had to do everything by ourselves” (student that worked individually on a real assignment for a company).


“I can now do in 10 classes what I used to do in 30 because students can now make connections with practice” (teacher).

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Learning for a vocation is not possible without school, but neither without practice. Practice provides students a realistic, meaningful and context-rich learning environment. Students working on assignments in real practice add effective to their education; the more where we are dealing with vocational education. You cannot teach your students swimming from a book. An additional advantage of learning in practice is that many students enjoy “doing something” or “making something” more than learning something from a book.

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At Landstede teachers enable students to learn by doing in practice: he may do such in the range from short explorations to intensive occupational training. We consider two types of learning:

• Task-based learning

This preferably takes place in practice: the student receives an assignment to make something, to solve a problem, to conduct research, and so on. Such a task can be done individually or in a group. Ideally, we work with real clients, from outside Landstede.

• Work-based learning

This can only take place in practice: the student works at a real company or institution as a real employee (in the apprenticeship training, BBL) or nearly as a real employee (in the vocational stream, BOL). He then works at a company in a team, a shift, or will go to a job with an employee, he participates with work meetings, and so on.

In our school task based learning is most connected to one learning route (BOL) and work based learning to the other (BBL).

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In environmental education, an American study showed that task and work based learning do not reach their full potential in practice. It turns out that this is not due to the practical situations. Practice generally provides sufficient learning opportunity. It is the utilisation that lacks due to the way learning is supervised. This is not to disqualify teachers and counsellors in practical situations, but it is due to the complexity of the learning process. In addition to this research, there are numerous other studies that show that genuine results of learning in practice are only attained under guided conditions.