FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: Reflections, learning, collaborative, co-participation, affordances, ALGC


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We are now almost a week into our group assignment.

Throughout the readings for this class I found a common theme that qualifies the level of learning in a community of practice. I’d like to think that it would also apply to our current task. I am talking about the dialogical, collaborative and participatory nature of learning.

Here are some thoughts on our learning environment and process, which I have tried to present by dividing them under relevant headlines.


In his article on workplace learning (block 1), Smith says: Trentin (1999), working within the social constructivist framework, has also argued that the power of new communication systems lies in their potential to support collaborative education and training. In reviewing a number of definitions of collaborative learning, Trentin is anxious to point out that the concept rests on a view that knowledge is not something that is delivered to students but that emerges from active dialogue. This notion of collaborative learning is much the same as that shown by Billett and Rose (1996) to be most effective in securing conceptual knowledge in the workplace.” (p. 75)

Cited in the same article, Trentin also says that “It is important for instructors not to take a directive role or to provide answers at the expense of encouraging discussion.” (P.77)

This gives us a lot of responsibility and room to construct and elaborate our own learning. However, in order to be able to achieve the learning goals for this assignment, I believe it is very important that we consider how our personal participation ( or lack thereof) may impact others. The following are some considerations based on the readings.

AFFORDANCES and cO-participation

In block 2 readings, the concept of affordances emerges, i.e. the learning opportunities made available to workers by employers. From my understanding, affordances set the stage, but it is up to the participants to engage actively and co-operatively in the learning process. This has been suggested by Billet in his article on Co-participation at work (block 2 readings). Here are some excerpts:

“the reciprocal process of how the workplace affords participation and how individuals elect to engage with and participate in work activities and interactions, and learn co-constructively through them.” (p. 191) This definition underscores the tight relationship between social and cognitive experiences in the work place. (p. 191)

“Co-participation at work refers to the interdependent process of engagement in and learning through work.” (p. 197)

“Co-participation at work is constituted at the intersection of the trajectories of the evolving social practice of the particular workplace on the one hand, and individuals’ sociall yshaped personal histories or ontogenies on the other.” (p. 197)

Furthermore, participation in other social practices is thought of exercising influence on on-the-job learning processes. (p. 197)


Affordances, like Billet says, are invitational. It is left to the individuals to decide on the degree of their participation. This is relevant to and very important for our current task. “Ultimately, individuals exercise agency that determines how they engage with the activities and guidance afforded by the workplace.”(P.198)


The level of personal participation may even extend further so as to include the concept of appropriation, which is defined in the same article as “When […] the learner concurs with what is to be learnt and makes it their own.” (p. 199)


Mumby’s article on workplace and learning reinforces the concept of self-regulated learning.

“Experienced learners plan before beginning a task by selecting strategies and resources that match the task. They monitor their task performance, ready to change strategies and resources if necessary. And they evaluate or appraise the outcome to refine knowledge.” (p. 96)

“self-regulated learners are successful learners (Boekaerts et al., 2000; Zimmerman, 1990)” (p. 96)


As students we are afforded a learning environment within which we have the opportunity to explore new knowledge and construct our learning. This is the situational component of community learning experiences. The rest is activated by personal social participation in the experience. Billet’s article and other articles as well, make plenty of references to negotiated, co-constructed engagement as one of the pillars of learning within a community of practice.

I believe that much of what I have just listed is missing in our current group discussion.

I look forward to reading your comments.

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