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Literacies @ work : professional development in an organisational learning system

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conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Roberta HarreveldRoberta Harreveld
This paper explores the effects of changing technologies, demographics and community expectations at the learning-work interface. Over the course of the twentieth century, the economies of Western nations such as Australia have moved from a mass production, industrial workforce to a white-collar and service workforce. In the twenty-first century, ‘knowledge’ – its creation and its management – is evolving as a new currency for workers in global marketplaces. For new knowledge workers, the acquisition and deployment of multiple literacies is essential for their very survival. To contextualize this engagement with the notion of literacies at work, emergent findings from research undertaken during the implementation of a recent workplace literacy course are presented. The course was conducted with a group of seven vocational educators working for an organisation in the health services sector. Operating as they do at the vortex of change within their organisation, these educators grappled with the changing knowledge and performance-based demands of curriculum documents, their colleagues-as-learners, themselves as learners and teachers, and community expectations. The research project reported in this paper offers a futures-oriented approach to professional development that utilises conceptual and methodological tools related to knowledge management, action learning and discourse analysis. It engages with questions related to language, literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills utilised by the educators when designing learning activities for their colleagues-as-students. The main data gathering and analysis approach is interpretive and qualitative. The findings identify insights the educators bring to the development and enhancement of their colleagues’ reading, writing, thinking, problem solving, critically analytic and interpretive abilities, as well as their mathematical, technical and technological understandings. Finally, the paper will discuss the ways in which this course could become integral to the policies and business practices of the organisation and thus fundamental to growing the workforce capabilities of health service professionals in new times.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)


Parent Title

AVETRA 2006 Conference papers.

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End Page


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Start Date



University of Wollongong, N.SW.


Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association

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Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education; TBA Research Institute;

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Name of Conference

Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association. Annual Conference