A. Rubio Carbó1, N. Serrat Antolí2

1Institute for LifeLong Learning (SPAIN)
2University of Barcelona (SPAIN)
Few nowadays would question the determining role played by the workplace as an unsurpassable educational setting in which to acquire new knowledge and put many different competences into practice. It is a fact that continuing professional education constitutes one of the basic tools of professional development (Eraut, 1994). However, it is equally true that daily experience in the workplace, everyday professional practice, also constitutes one of the most powerful sources of knowledge, although often, “when it comes to practical knowledge acquired through experience, people cannot easily tell you what it is that they know”. (Eraut, 1994:25).

Beyond the acquisition of technical or technological knowledge to be applied to specific problems, work process knowledge implies a more complex and integrated vision of one’s own organization and of what occurs there in terms of learning. It involves a type of knowledge which grows exponentially, feeding back from the results of each professional’s performance in her/his work field. There, words, thoughts and actions which flow from the interaction between what the person already knows and the new generated by the workplace, find their place (Fischer & Boreman, 2004).

Most students at the IL3-UB pursue the interest of learning to find a new job or to improve their labour conditions. Thus, the professional orientation is the backbone of the learning process at the IL3-UB. Our methodological challenge is to guarantee professional development, meant as acquiring labour experience while being trained. Results are measured by participants in terms of professional development and by their enterprises in terms of business impact.

The main characteristics of professionalising activities identified in a IL3-UB report are: emerging from professional practice; centred in work-based needs of the professional profile; oriented to train complex labour situations; connected to professional sector contents; oriented to develop concrete professional competences and to explicit the tacit knowledge; and searching to create informal learning processes.

The report conclusions are currently being implemented in several long programmes, chosen for a pilot test research. After analysing the methodological approach of every single programme, the conclusion is the need of incorporating professionalising activities as a main axe in all of them. A work plan will help teaching staff redesign learning activities into professionalising ones, and implement them in their courses within this academic year. The objective of the research is the further evaluation not only from staff and students point of view but mainly from the institutional and the end enterprises one.