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 Docent Åsa Lindberg-Sand, Lunds Universitet 

Learning environments in change: Looking for the dissolving boundaries of higher education?

In the end of the 1970's the expansion of the Swedish higher education (HE) sector was concluded. A row of professional programmes like engineering, teaching and nursing, were made part of HE. In the 1990's the volume rapidly increased, and almost each region built its own university college. "Academisation" was the word of the day, making practical programmes more theoretical. And though the number of students studying at a distance slowly increased, the learning environments in the campuses were quite untouched.

However, under the surface larger changes were invisibly taking place. One was the shift, rudely expressed, from perceiving teaching as the fundamental process in education, to almost replacing it with learning (for good and for bad). This was most vividly expressed by the shift to a learning-based curricular system in 2007, in alignment with the Bologna Process. The other, and larger one, was the changing preconditions for learning in all of our lives, based in the electronic revolution, also affecting learning environments in HE. But in what ways?

This presentation is based on my chapter in the SUHF-report (2017) "Framtidens lärandemiljöer", and aims to discuss what may happen both within HE-campuses and to their boundaries, when learning through digital media expands and includes the possibility to integrate theory with practical experiences and tutoring at a distance.


 Professor Stephen Billett, Griffith University, Australia

Work-integrated education: Contributions to learning and innovation

Contemporary workers are required to be occupationally adept, workplace competent and innovative. These requirements are in response to transformations in occupational practices, technologies, ways of working, the demand for occupations, and the products being manufactured and services being provided.

They extend the orthodox role of tertiary education from preparing graduates for an occupational practice to possessing workplace-specific competencies (i.e. being 'job ready') and abilities to innovate in, through and for work (i.e. being adaptable). Conceptually and practically, there is an interdependence between learning and innovation. Innovating occurs through a process of learning to know, do or value something in a different way: to generate a novel response or adapt to new circumstances. Implementing an innovation generated elsewhere also requires learning associated with adapting it to a specific workplace.

This suggests that work-integrated education needs to find ways of preparing graduates with adaptable occupational capacities, abilities to be innovation and effective worklife learners. This presentation discusses the close alignment between these emerging challenges for tertiary education and how work-integrated education can be organised and enacted to promote both student learning and innovative capacities. This comprise a long-standing goal for education per se. That is, focusing the goals for tertiary education on adaptive practices – that is applying what individuals have learnt to know, do and value to different circumstances.

All of this requires a consideration of how learning progresses through these activities, identifying curriculum and pedagogic practices that support the development of those practices in both educational programs and workplace experiences, and promoting students' personal epistemologies to have a strong emphasis on adaptive capacities.

Updated by Eva Erkmar