Thinking beyond the traditional understanding of cooperation between learning venues

Hubert Ertl

Dear readers

The coronavirus crisis has shown just how rapidly we have had to adapt to unusual environments as we seek to cope with our daily tasks. Work has been relocated to home offices, and schooling has become home schooling. Temporary or permanent company closures mean that vocational education and training is taking place virtually. The challenges associated with these circumstances have made us aware of just how location-bound learning is.

Pluralisation and expansion of learning venues and spaces

The company, the vocational school and the inter-company training centre are commonly held to be the most important venues for vocational learning. A lively debate on the topic of “cooperation between learning venues” has been going on for some years. Discussions centre on the reasons why, the ways how and the extent to which these locations should work together. Everything began when the German Education Council first came up with the term “learning venue” in the 1970s. From then until the 1990s, when the Federal Government-Federal States Commission for Educational Planning and Research Promotion (BLK) carried out a number of pilot projects on such cooperation arrangements, the focus was on pluralising a largely fixed number of learning venues and on ensuring productive collaboration between them.

This issue of BWP addresses this discourse and extends it in two different ways. Firstly, the articles consider further stakeholders and learning venues such as regional and private sector training providers and higher education institutions. Secondly, an increasing emphasis is placed on digital and virtual learning spaces. While this creates new areas of potential for cross-cutting cooperation, it also throws up fresh challenges too. The pluralisation of learning venues also brings greater complexity in its wake.

For this reason, attention is turning to the development of pedagogic concepts for learning in hybrid environments. We need to concentrate on enabling learners and training staff to structure learning settings in a useful way and to adapt them to their own requirements. Work-based learning offers a wide range of points of reference for this purpose. Shaping work processes in a way which is conducive to learning brings together occupational actions and competence development in a way which is also necessary for the cross-cutting development of learning processes.

Making use of the innovations which emerge from initiatives

Over the past few years, a series of initiatives and programmes has driven forward the idea of networking between learning venues. The “Local Government Education Management Transfer Initiative”, a continuation of the Federal Government’s “Local Learning” programme, is, for example, currently devising procedures to allow networking models which have already proved successful to be used and pursued further for other regional circumstances. The projects set to be start at the end of the year as part of the national InnoVET competition also aim to generate impetuses for cooperation between learning venues.

The common idea behind these initiatives is that areas of potential for collaboration between different learning venues are initially developed and piloted within a context which is geographically limited or occupation specific. The overall objective in terms of the further development of vocational education and training is to transfer the possible solutions acquired across the breadth of the system. The experiences of the coronavirus crisis show that the effort required to achieve this is justified.

Prof. Dr. Hubert Ertl
Director of Research and Vice-President of BIBB


Translation from the German original (published in BWP 4/2020): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin