Work Based Learning as a mode of learning has a long history and on page 9 of the current edition of CILIP's gazette, (21 July - 11 August 2010) an article suggests that "Work Based Learning gives more options for Chartership". The central plank of Work Based Learning comes from recognising the development of knowledge in the workplace and that this knowledge is comparable with university level courses and the National Qualifications Framework. The model is totally flexible and works extremely well in any professional context. The model comprises a three way partnership. Firstly, there is the individual professional / learner wishing to develop their career and bring added value to their profession and the workplace. Secondly, there is the employing organisation, leveraging advances in the workplace through the project approach afforded by Work Based Learning. Thirdly, there is the university, recognising and accrediting learning in the workplace, as well as forging valuable links with employers and the profession.
The university maps existing workplace knowledge against criteria matching the various levels of awards once individuals have told the university what they know and how they apply it. From then on, individuals negotiate their own pathway to an award in conjunction with their employer. There are three main advantages to this approach in working towards a higher education award. The first is that participants in such a programme are totally based in their workplace with no requirement to attend weekly lectures or seminars. The programme uses a range of Web based technologies to provide academic support and guidance. Secondly, participants only need to learn what is wholly relevant to their professional practice. Thirdly, there is the time and cost factor. Earning a degree through Work Based Learning can be both shorter and cheaper than the traditional route. This is totally dependent on what is already known and can be accredited. The maximum number of credits that can be earned in this way is 240 of the 360 required for an honours degree. The programme offers many exit points and the concept and range of award opporunities are explained in an earlier blog's slideshow.
The advantage of work based projects is that they are applied within the context of professional practice. While some seek to change practice as in Action Research, others want to conduct an inquiry with a view to finding answers about professional practice. Examples of projects in the domain of Information & Libraries Management which might be used towards earning a degree are:
- Design and delivery of a user education programme
- Exploiting Web 2.0 technologies to disseminate information services
- Incorporating E-books
- Service innovation in an age of austerity
- Ensuring copyright compliance
Middlesex University has a wealth of experience in Work Based Learning and has been a Centre of Excellence in this area.