Dual education 3.0
First we learn, then we work; first, we acquire as much knowledge as possible, then we apply it. This seems to be the typical way in which learning is conducted within our educational system. But is this actually the best way of learning? Information is currently available 24 hours a day. But what does this mean in terms of learning? At the very least, it leads to the question as to when and how this information should be used. Moreover, has this issue become so important now because knowledge is currently expanding so rapidly that success actually requires lifelong learning?
Dual education combines learning and working; it regards both as forming part of a single process. This approach, which has been around for a long time, has been mainly applied in post-school vocational training as preparation for employment. However, dual education is now being implemented in many more areas. Practical work now regularly begins in school, whereas learning is slowly forming part of our everyday working lives.
This rethink has taken place in many educational institutions. This normally involves young people spending most of their time in internships, with classrooms used to accompany and support their work experience. Students in these institutions apply themselves at work to real projects, and in doing so gain the knowledge they need to successfully implement their ideas when they return to their studies. This enables students to learn something new and to apply their new skills when they are actually needed.
Practice-based learning needs to be flexible and to meet individual needs
This approach ensures that the material under study can always be practically applied. However, courses such as these always require a certain level of basic education. Consequently, when developing an approach such as this, educational institutions need to decide on three points. First, they have to establish the material that they wish to teach – this material is independent of the specific practical requirements of the course. Second, they need to ensure that the course is flexible and quickly adaptable to changing needs. Finally, they need to develop a system that provides for individual learning. This is essential because learners are always at different levels and have different needs. Moreover, it is essential that they gain the experiences that come with a learning community. These aspects can be promoted through portfolios, learning diaries and work on their biographies, presenting what has been learned together and through joint creative modules. However, these activities should be accompanied by at least two adults: a coach at school and one in the workplace, and they should remain in continual contact with each other.
The connection between learning and working is particularly relevant to the rapidly changing field of technology. Importantly, this approach is leading many innovations and inventions to be made in universities, and even in schools. Some pupils and students have even gone on to establish their own companies or begin production, and have continued with these projects during their vocational training. These developments are running under the new motto: ‘I learn by working, and I work by learning’.