Professional and Digital Learning

What will work look like in the future? In a world of change - in the economy, technology, politics, environment— it is difficult to predict future forms of work. Developments in technologies and digital networks are currently stimulating the evolution of systemic new work practices while automating others. Learning for work is a critical component of innovation and as a result the issue of improving people’s skills, competences and knowledge sits at the top of the political agenda in each country, also evidenced in the UN Sustainable development Goals (2015): To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all (Goal 4) and to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all (Goal 8).

The Professional and Digital Learning theme at the Institute of Educational Technology works towards addressing these critical global challenges by working with partners in diverse organisations (academic institutions, NGOs, multinational companies) to coordinate responses to the problems that affect the lives and well-being of people - from working with professionals in tackling anti-microbial resistance, to enhancing learning from incidents in the workplace in the energy sector.

We are leading state-of- the-art research aiming to understand and advance transformations of work practices and learning with digital tools. We aim to convene academics whose research focuses on technology enhanced workplace learning, to encourage collaboration, and to capitalise on the collective knowledge of the group to advance professional and digital learning research in an era characterised by uncertainty and rapid change.

Examples of our research

We work with a range of partners in academia, industry and civil society organisations to address contemporary challenges faced by society.

  • Centre for Policing Research and Professional Development, funded by HEFCE
  • Learning From Incidents and Implementing Action, funded by the Energy Institute (Sept 2016 - 2019) Large scale accidents such as Chernobyl and Deepwater Horizon are tragedies that companies have a moral responsibility to prevent. Accidents and near-misses can become valuable opportunities for companies to learn from the past to create a safer future. However, for incidents to truly bring organisational change, insights must be shared and used by those not involved in the original event; sharing information about insights allows divisions of a company to improve without the necessity of experiencing undesirable events themselves. Working with the Energy Institute and several multinational energy companies we are investigating the best way to share knowledge and encourage employees to engage with incident information, prompting lasting organisation wide change.
  • Learning in Uncertainty
  • Antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income countries, funded by the Fleming Fund (October 2017-2020) An initiative by the UK Department of Health and Department of International Development to help tackle the global problem of antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income countries. The threat of bugs developing resistances to drugs is well known, but not enough is yet being done. Drug resistant infections could kill an extra 10M people across the world every year by 2050 if they are not tackled. Drug misuse is causing real difficulties globally, not just in human medicine, but also veterinary, with farmers using antibiotics in fish farms or injecting farm animals, whether sick or not. We are working with medical people in the UK, Myanmar, Nigeria and Zimbabwe to promote a holistic approach and provide appropriate training.

The Professional and Digital Learning team