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Workplace Learning can have a variety of meanings and often means different things to different people. Put simply it means learning which takes place in an employment context rather than a college or university. It often has an implied meaning that it is learning related to academic study. However this is not necessarily the case as the workplace is often seen as an environment where transferrable skills can be learned and developed, some of which are difficult to acquire in a Higher Education setting. Such skills are not necessarily part of the academic curriculum.
It is often seen too as an environment where a university or college student goes as part of their course to enhance their understanding of theory by seeing things they have learnt in academia put into practice. However the reverse context is equally applicable as the flow of labour can be in the opposite direction where an employee of a company goes part-time to a university or college to learn the theory related to their day-to-day practice.
It is generally agreed however that workplace learning is the acquisition of knowledge (usually practical) in a commercial or industrial context.
This learning can be assessed in a variety of ways both by the Higher Education provider and by the employer. At the lowest level it can take the form of a simple ‘tick box’ exercise of the practical skills acquired, at an intermediate level by a reflective diary or report by the student on the industrial/commercial experience as a whole, and at a higher level the student may be required to examine some aspect of the industrial/commercial environment which surrounds him/her and to provide a critical analysis for the employer possibly in the form of an in-depth report.
A whole raft of skills, which may include report writing, time management, presentation skills, team working and so on, can be practiced and developed in such environments.