Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

What is Needed to Underpin the Challenges of Creating a Learning Economy? Learner Information Flows in Education

Lookup NU author(s): Ben Whiston, Professor Rob WilsonORCiD


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


Problem Statement/Rationale As the Government initiates a new wave of education reform the question becomes not what might need to be learned but where is the ‘learner’ and how can their learning be co-ordinated? On a parallel course from the current impetus towards shared services and the particular trend towards collaborative/ federated service solutions in HE (HEFCE, 2006) we recognised a need for some scoping work to be undertaken in both FE and secondary schools as well. This need has since increased given comments by the Prime Minister about the necessity for all secondary schools to have links to a university and most recently plans unveiled by John Denham to widen participation (Denham, 2007). There is a need to join up the joining up. Through our work it became clear that these challenges are linked to the structural changes in Universities created by developing attitudes to information and the expanding possibilities presented by information communication technology and infrastructure. This includes such things as the “reinstitutionalisation” of universities “in a more corporate form” (Cornford, 2000). As traditional attitudes to education provision in the UK continue to be reshaped to include such things as undergraduate programmes in F.E and in one of our study sites the provision of HE modules in a secondary school, it becomes ever more necessary that the various stages of the learners journey are better understood so that information can be shared appropriately across organisational boundaries. Research Design and Methods The initial phase of the project has been iterative and exploratory. We began with extensive literature searches which focussed on local, regional and national policy as well as other forms of grey literature. Our primary data has been collected from intensive case studies at centres in both secondary and further education. We have followed an ethnographically informed methodology, which has involved semi-structured interviews with a broad range of academic, managerial and support staff as well as regular contact with and observations in the sites. Main Findings One of the questions that have arisen is whether Universities should continue to form new partnerships using current approaches. Our research suggests that there are substantial opportunities for Universities and other partners within the sector to make a step change that goes beyond the current drive for shared services in HE by distributing and sharing resources and skills to other parts of the education the provision chain. As new forms of education provision become increasingly accessible the key information flow in terms of lifelong and work based learning relates to personal development planning, portfolios and the needs of learners. Whilst there is a great deal of interest and excitement in certain quarters over the utilisation technologies for learning (VLE’s, E-portfolios etc.) we have found that the landscape in terms of understanding and deployment is diverse. If the emerging forms of development portfolio are to fulfil any of their potential outcomes the key challenge is structural. We perceive that the most viable solution will require partnerships and agreements that support a common communication space.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whiston B, Wilson RG

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: BMAF Annual Conference: The Learning and Teaching Agenda in the UK: National Perspectives but Common Concerns?

Year of Conference: 2008

Pages: 31-32

Publisher: Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Business Management Accountancy and Finance (BMAF)