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Employers do not understand learning

December 2nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Interesting survey by the UK Chartered Management Institute and reported in the Guardian newspaper.

“The institute interviewed 1,000 managers aged 35 and under, working in industry, commerce, local government and the police. Their most common complaint was that older bosses regarded the internet as “a massive timewaster”. Half said their organisations did not take up web-based technology until it was tried and tested, and 16% described their employers as “dinosaurs”. The survey found most young managers wanted to use the internet for research, professional development and other aspects of getting the job done. But employers treated it with suspicion. The survey found 65% of organisations monitored usage, rising to 86% in local government and 88% in the police. This led 65% of employers to block access to “inappropriate” sites, rising to 89% in local government and 90% in the utilities. Eighteen per cent of employers limited internet access to certain times of day, rising to 38% in the insurance industry.”

Some two years ago we published the results of a project looking at e-Learning in Small and Medium Enterprises in Europe. We undertook 105 case studies in six different countries. We found few instances of formal e-learning (or formal learning of any kind). However we found extensive use of the internet for informal learning. Older workers were more likely to use ICT for learning than younger staff. This, we concluded, was due to two reasons: older workers were more likely to have unlimited access to the internet becuase of their seniority. And older workers were more likely to have autonomy to use the results of their learning in the workplace.

The Chartered Mangement Instutute survey shows that businesses have still not progressed in their understanding of learning, less still in thinking about innovation. Informal learning is potentially the most powerful driver of innovation. But this requires both access to learning opportunties and work organisations which allow autonomy to utilise learning. Most businesses still don’t get it.

NB Sadly I cannot find an online copy of the Chartered Mangement Institute Survey. Probably costs lots of money. But you can download the book we produced – Searching, Lurking and the Zone of Proximal Development – E-Learning in Small and Medium Enterprises in Europe – for free.

3 Responses to “Employers do not understand learning”

  1. Emma says:

    That link to your book is 404ing … so I can’t download it 🙁

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Sorrt Emma and thanks for reporting – link fixed now

  3. Linda says:

    I’ll say this much. Any of us older folks who have worked in IT since its beginning would call this report bogus. Along with the fact that most courses available today are on the internet, granted behind firewalls, but easily accessible from anywhere.

    I understand the youth of the 35 and under group thinking that way but it is not all about work with them.

  • Search

    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.

    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time

    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”

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