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Our learning needs

February 2nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Much of our work in Pontydysgu involves trying to support the learning and knowledge development needs of others – individuals and organisations. So it was interesting when I was asked what were our learning needs. This is what I wrote:

Pontydysgu is an SME, based in Wales, UK.
It employees one full time worker, one intern student and four part time workers. Pontydysgu is a research and development company, working in the field of information and technology communications for knowledge development and sharing and education and learning.
Staff are distributed, with three of the workers mainly based n Wales and three in Bremen, Germany. Although the organisation has two offices, in Pontypridd and Bremen, most staff work from home and are heavily reliant on computer based technologies for coordination and communication.
Most of the work of the organisation is project based, with projects varying in length between three months and four years. Clients include both the private and public sector, with a number of projects sponsored by the European Commission. The projects involve a considerable amount of traveling and at any one time, half of the staff may be away from the offices.
Pontydysgu is a knowledge based organisation and the work involves continuos learning in multiple disciplinary based fields. Excepting the Intern student all of the staff are qualified to degree level.
Learning is informal and on-the-job and may take as high as 33 per cent of work time. This process is not unproblematic. There are issues as to how to coordinate learning, how to support what is essentially peer based learning and how to develop a shared organisational knowledge base. Whilst staff are highly motivated in self learning, there is an issue as to how best to balance individual learning interests with organisational learning needs.
Formal courses are generally seen as too inflexible to meet learning needs. Accreditation is not required by the company, but the development and use of a portfolio would allow individual learning to become more transparent than it is at present and allow for potential transfer in future employment.
The organisation has invested in mobile devices and all employees have an iPod touch. However the use of such devices is largely  up to individual staff. The organisation is presently looking at the use of advanced smartphones to improve communication and learning.

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