Research · Programme

Professional and Digital Learning

Group discussion in a meeting room.

Understanding and advancing the transformation of work practices and learning with digital tools.

Global challenges affect the lives and well-being of people worldwide. The Professional and Digital Learning research programme at the Institute of Educational Technology is addressing critical global challenges. We are working with partners in multinational companies, professional bodies, academic institutions, and civil society organisations to coordinate responses to improve the ways people and organisations learn.

In an era of political, social and economic uncertainty, the ways people and organisations work and learn are changing fast. These changes, along with developments in technologies, have stimulated the evolution of systemic new work practices and institutional structures and processes, while automating others. Learning for work is critical for innovation and sits at the top of political agendas in most nations. Yet, most countries and organisations are struggling to improve learning as work transforms.

For example, in the race to slow down AntiMicrobial Resistance (AMR), the Health Sector has to make sure people use antibiotics effectively. In an era of political change, professionals in the Finance sector have to deal with uncertain situations for example the Brexit process, where financiers have to uncouple UK and European Commission legislation. The International Development sector is seeking equitable solutions to issues of migration, poverty and displacement by developing novel, coordinated approaches to knowledge mobilisation. The Police need to evolve new forms of policing practice suited to changing societies. Research and development, when focused towards these specific challenges, can provide solutions by unpacking complex problems, informing how to achieve key targets and how to measure progress.

The groundbreaking nature of our research in Professional and Digital Learning is evidenced through impact in organisations around the world in the Energy, Finance, Health, Police, International Development and Education sectors. For example, our insights into knowledge mobilisation has enabled NGOs and research organisations to work more closely. Approaches to knowledge sharing, including Evidence Cafes, have been used by police forces across the UK to reflect upon and change their practice. Tools we have developed to measure and improve learning from incidents are being distributed globally by the Energy Institute. Insights into self-regulated learning in uncertain situations have been adopted by the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments.

Our research is clustered around:

  1. Sensemaking for organisational and professional learning
  2. Knowledge for professional learning
  3. Equity and innovation for organisational professional learning


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