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Collaborative learning in the working life

sveflagDeveloping problem-solving competence is to a large extent the foundation of learning in the working life. This also means ability to explore new possibilities and improve the performance, both when it comes to action as well as interaction. The aim of pedagogy would be to train the student’s entrepreneurial skills in real life situations. The method that often is termed collaborative learning works great for both self-studies as well as for project-based learning in a team. But how can these good intentions be transformed into actual educational practice?

Collaborative pedagogical methods?

Joseph A. Schumpeter defines an entrepreneur as follows:

“An entrepreneur is a person that is willing and has the ability to transform a new idea or invention to successful innovation, and at the same time create new products and business models, which is the basis to the dynamics on workplaces and long time economic growth.” Joseph A. Schumpeter

This definition works perfectly as an ideal both for an employed as well as a business owner. Creative with loads of ideas with ability to solve problems and transform ideas to functional solutions is skills that are demanded. The driving force behind this development is the profound economic, social and technological structural transformation that has been in progress for past decades, which demands new adapted educational methods. In order to be effective, this means the use of information- and communication technology, i.e. eLearning and knowledge management system etc. Another pillar is a network-based learning-context, and dialogue before lessons/lectures is a third pillar.

Education for working life in the knowledge-based society

In the study “Educating the Next Wave of Entrepreneurs: Unlocking entrepreneurial capabilities to meet the global challenges of the 21st Century” that was presented on World Economic Forum 2011 the following categories of pedagogical methods for the modern working life were declared.

+Practical case studies – crucial for effective and progressing learning, where information- and communication technology has a great set of tools to achieve the goals. The mix of different applications is determined by the goals and content in the course.

+Group- and teambuilding techniques with focus on improving communication, create new ideas and development, in other words, work and learn in a creative environment, where e.g. role play is one workable method.

+Gaming technology and simulations – that works perfectly for self-studies but also work for group exercises.

+Seminars with entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, which means people that has the practical knowledge about the subject of the course.

+Integrated learning in project-tasks.


Dialogue is as mentioned above an important pillar in todays and the future working-life-pedagogy. This does not only mean in group-activities, but also the response the student receive and gives in an eLearning-exercise, e.g. a simple multiple-choice-exercise with feedback, a simulation or a learning-game. The authors to the study mentioned above writes:

”However, within this low risk environment traditional educational methods, such as lecturing, do not correlate well with the development of entrepreneurial thinking and acting. There is a need for more interactive, interdisciplinary and proactive learning approaches, in which the teacher becomes more of a moderator than a lecturer.”

One of the main challenges with this collaborative pedagogy is to develop content that encourages this method where terms like dialogue, feedback and network are important parts. This means for instance that to learn from mistakes is one of the main possibilities for competence development (trial and error). With this in mind, collaborative learning is action-based and takes place in real time where the student has to handle new situations and solve new problems without introduction. In the next step, this leads to improvements in areas like communication, development of ideas and better skills to effectively find new solutions to upcoming problems. The working life’s new demands and technology development is the driving-force in this transformation on the behalf of learning.

Written by LarsGöran Boström©

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