T. Björklund, M.M. Eloranta

Helsinki University of Technology (FINLAND)
Organizations and educators alike are increasingly aiming for lifelong learning, and there are endless amounts of different courses, modules and degrees offered. Supplementary education has a special role in the lifelong learning spirit, but are these programs achieving the ultimate goal – changes in thought and behavior? Although the importance of adapting and applying knowledge is perhaps most visible in supplementary education and working life, where the investment in training should translate into competitive advantage, the same challenge of impact is faced by all education. Gaining inert knowledge is not yet learning, the process needs to be taken a step further.

We examined a supplementary education module in product development, and developed concrete methods to support the crucial steps towards adaption. The importance of supporting the adapting process was further highlighted as data collected on the challenges and learning needs of the participants revealed that lack of time was one of the main challenges faced in their work. Time pressure discourages experimentation, and thus there is a high risk that behavior and schemas remain unaffected. When the participants return to work from the training event, they have a buildup of tasks, and executing them as always before is tempting. Theoretical information and ideas heard during the training are soon forgotten.

In this paper, we present a model for analyzing the education process from a knowledge adaption point of view. The interaction between education, working life and schemas (internal models) of the learner is depicted, highlighting the important connections and processes involved. Education can reveal previous schemas, and the two interact to produce new thoughts and ideas. Traditionally, most education events finish here, however, we argue that education should encourage and assist applying these thoughts. The model, its implications for planning education, and practical suggestions are discussed.