Recent critiques of management and teacher education curricula and teaching pay particular attention to the disconnection between the de-contextualised, formal knowledge and analytical techniques conveyed in university programs and the messy, ill-structured nature of practice. At the same time research into professional expertise suggests that its development requires bringing together different forms of knowledge and the integration of formal and non-formal learning with the development of cognitive flexibility. Such complex learning outcomes are unlikely to be achieved through a 'knowledge transmission' approach to curriculum design. In this article we argue that in many ways current higher education practices create barriers to developing ways of knowing which can underpin the formation of expertise. Using examples from two practice-focused distance learning courses, we explore the role of distance learning in enabling a dialogue between academic and workplace learning and the use of 'practice dialogues' among course participants to enable integration of learning experiences. Finally, we argue that we need to find ways in higher education of enabling students to engage in relevant communities of expertise, rather than drawing them principally into a community of academic discourse which is not well aligned with practice
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