Mobile learners: Networked governance and the embodiment of partnership

Year: 2006

Author: Seddon, Terri

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Networked governance creates partnership to form nodes for learning that are marked out in policy and practice. These new learning spaces problematise the usual renderings of education and their binaries of centralised and decentralised, authority figure and subaltern subject, teacher and learner. Instead they are premised on difference and its negotiation within horizontal relations and networks that reach across and beyond traditional and emerging learning spaces. They serve as knowledge exchanges where trade and gift manifest as bazaar. This paper considers these new learning spaces as sites where mobile learners, as travellers and strangers, coalesce in vestigial communities. It asks what is being exchanged and what is being learned.

This paper contributes to a symposium that is looking at the impact of travel, mobility, on pedagogy, on ideas about pedagogy and the implications for us as teachers. It builds on a series of research projects that, since 2001, have focused on social partnerships in education and training. Those increasingly common initiatives in which multiple agencies come together, often with no history of collaboration, to generate an action agenda that supports learning, either through participant’s work-based learning (eg. teachers professional development) or through designed educational provision for beneficiaries (eg. students).

My aim in this paper is to focus on partnerships as a way of thinking about mobile learners who move from place to place, and their learning in different spaces constituted within distinct social relations of learning. An example would be a 15 year old moving from school where learning is constituted within bureaucratic relations of learning coordinated through hierarchies, particularly conventional knowledge hierarchies, and into a community-based training program which is constituted through multi-agency negotiations that present the learner with a complex mix of practical knowledges (eg. different working knowledges, relational, emotional and social knowledges etc). By reflecting on the social organization that has constituted partnerships and two specific cases of partnership learning, I take up the theme of the sympoium. I begin with some preliminary meditations on partnership and then outline two examples of partnership, both training cafés that we have investigated through interview-based techniques. These initial reflections provide a basis for commenting on the pedagogy or co-production of learning (Lusted 1986) that is negotiated as identities interact with conditions of learning constituted through partnerships. My point here is that learners come to embody partnership and this means that they become mobile learners who take up the knowledge practices that are brought together through multiagency working. The next section considers the implications of such learning for social structure, what it means for beneficiaries of partnership learning and what it means for teachers.