Shedding light on the research benefits for the workplace
The current, special issue of well-known journal 'Mind, culture and Activity' focuses on learning and technology in the workplace. Stimulated by a workshop run by the Kaleidoscope Special Interest Group of the same name as this focus, the issue is edited by researchers at the UK's London Knowledge Lab.
The Kaleidoscope Special Interest Group (SIG) ‘Learning and technology in the workplace’, ran from 2004 – 2006, involving partners from London, Liege, Bergen, Oslo and Grenoble. In March 2004, the SIG organised a London-based workshop, bringing together leading researchers from Europe and the USA to debate ‘Learning and Technology at Work’. A selection of the papers orginally presented in London has just appeared in the the form of a special issue of the high-profile, international journal Mind, Culture and Activity .
Both the workshop and the special issue explore a dual meaning in the title: to research how learning and technology variously form part of practices “at work” in actual workplaces, and also to explore how learning and technology are “at work” – working together – in technology-rich sites such as modern workplaces.
Philip Kent, a researcher based at the London Knowledge Lab, and a member of the SIG and of the journal editorial team, says “this special issue makes an important contribution to an emerging cross-disciplinary research field by presenting a range of theoretical positions and methodologies which all tackle the problem of understanding learning as part of the activity of individual humans, who collectively make up a workplace organisation.”
“It is also significant in that several papers demonstrate how theoretically-based research can have a direct impact on training and learning in workplaces: for example, our own paper (Kent, Noss, Guile, Hoyles, and Bakker) describes how financial services companies might engage with their customers more effectively when customer service employees have an insight in the mathematical models underlying the financial products (e.g, a pension plan) – and we propose some ways that training and learning could be developed towards that goal . Another paper (by Daniels, James, Rahman, Young, Derry, and McConkey) takes on an unusual work-based issue, describing research on how cancer patients and their carers interact with the new phenomenon of information about cancer on the internet, and with the medical professionals who are treating them; the research suggests that there is a potential for learning by the patient/carer that is underappreciated and often overlooked by the healthcare system.”