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Distributed Cognition: Understanding Tensions Embedded in Workplace Knowledge and Skills

By Hitendra K. Pillay


Efforts to develop and define education and training models that are responsive to the needs of the high performance workplace have involved interventions that are well beyond formal instruction derived from psychological research on human learning. Current literature on human learning argues that such instructional interventions are limited and often considered fragmented - they tend to focus on specific items of decontextualised knowledge (see Lave 1991; Scribner, 1986). Whilst some current models are more comprehensive ans systematic than in the past, they nevertheless reflect a view of developing professional expertise that is prescriptive and deterministic. Present models may be useful for many types of knowledge and skills development; however their potential for developing skilled and knowledgeable performance needed in a contingent and dynamic work environment is far from optimal. The emergent model based on a shared cognition or community of learners, expands our understanding of learning but it is still prescriptive and narrow in that it undervalues the contribution of the individuals' cognition in human learning and performance (Lave & Wagner, 1991). To explore the emerging nature of workplace knowledge and skills and their significance for education and training, this chapter will firstly discuss the multi-dimensional nature of emerging workplace contexts and the associated knowledge base. Secondly, the changing views about human learning processes will be discussed in the context of a proposed model for examining the complex nature of workplace knowledge

Topics: distributed learning, learning systems, learning tools and artefacts, workplace knowledge
Publisher: Nova Science Publishers
Year: 2006
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