Linking Learners, Universities and Organisations

With Professor John Stephenson

HandsReport on the Seminar Linked with the ‘International Centre for Learner Managed Learning’

Held on 11th January 2000 Twelve Centre members and guests spent a fascinating afternoon hosted by University of North London Business School in January. Through dialogue with Professor John Stephenson, we learnt about linking learners, universities and organisations.

Professor Stephenson has had a long association with learner centred approaches to learning and has set up the International Centre for Learner Managed Learning at Middlesex University.

He posed a couple of questions at the start of the session –

  • How can we prepare ourselves for a world that we don’t yet know?
  • What other self have I yet to discover and how can I make it happen?

We discussed the issue of competence versus capability and the relevance of learning at personal, organisational and professional level.

John described the existing model (Fig 1) between learners, higher education establishments and organisations, where the university and the employer exchange data, commission courses and have meetings, without learner involvement. The communication with the learner is from the college and the employer separately.

However, he suggested that the following would be more effective (Fig. 2).

In this model, the learning is negotiated and driven by the learner, who is the formal beneficiary, although the employer and the University, who are in the background, also learn.

This three way contract produces mutual benefit; the individual gains long term development and increased knowledge and skills; the organisation increases its effectiveness and skills, thereby increasing flexibility and quicker response to change and the learning provider gains a sustained relationship with both the employer and the learner.

It produces individual, not collective learners and we know that if people learn how to learn, then they can face and deal with any challenges.

This is just a short insight into a very useful and informative afternoon.

Liz Barlow