1 The Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University2 Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University
The aim of this paper is to present an analytical model to study school and workplace as different learning environments and discuss some findings from the application of the model on a case study. First the paper tries to answer the question: what is a learning environment? In most other studies schools and workplaces are not only considered to be different learning environment, but are also analysed using different approaches. In this paper I will propose a common model to analyse and compare the two learning environments, drawing on sociology of work (Kern & Schumann 1984; Braverman 1976) and theories of workplace learning (Lave & Wenger 1991; Engeström 2001; Billett 2001; Evans, Hodkinson & Unwin 2002). A basic distinction is made between the technical-organisational and the socio-cultural learning environment. The first, the technical-organisa¬tional learning environment, consists of the physical, technical and organisational environment of work (workplace) and teaching (school). It determines the degree of autonomy, the possibility for use of skills, for social interaction and the balance between strain and reward for the worker/learner. These conditions encompass resources as well as limitations for learning, and thus frame the opportunities for learning. The second, the socio-cultural learning environment is constituted by the social and cultural relations and communities in the workplace and in school. I distinguish between three different types of social relations in the workplace: economical, political and cultural, which shape the learning processes in different ways. One result of the analysis is that many of the same factors in the learning environment seem to influence the learning process in both school and workplace. Another result is that the model proves helpful to identify the conditions for linking learning in the two learning environments and to identify different kinds of linkage between school and work. The paper emphasizes that learning is not only determined by the configuration of elements in the learning environments and the kind of learning potentials they offer. It is how these potentials and limitations are met with the subjective motivation of the employees that determine what kind of learning occurs. Learning occurs as an active process, where the employees interpret and reshape the learning environment in the contrast between their individual and collective experiences. Therefore learning environments should be analysed not only as objective realities (for the researcher), but also as subjective realities – as lived and experienced reality by the learners.