The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Facilitation of Collaborative and Contextual Learning in an Enterprise Environment

Lauri Jäntti

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission for public examination and debate in Auditorium K216 at Helsinki University of Technology (Otakaari 4, Espoo, Finland) on the 9th of May, 2003, at 12 o'clock noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-6535-4)   [2540 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-6460-9)


The aim of the work was to find a new model for facilitation of learning in modern enterprise environments. The research started from the exploration of two learning cases in different workplaces by asking three questions:   1) What were these cases: what were the goals, what happened, why, and what were the consequences?   2) How was the guidance of learning implemented?   3) What were the guidance elements which most affected how successful the different parties found the case?   In the selection of the cases three items were regarded as important, firstly that there was a strong will and ability to apply the best possible pedagogical practices, secondly that the cases had experienced high-level learning guides, and thirdly that the cases represented different organizational environments. The exploration phase was implemented by applying the grounded theory method for qualitative analysis of the research data. The data was collected through observations, interviews and questionnaires.

The main findings from the exploration can be crystallized into five items:   1) strong effect of context on motivation and commitment   2) efficiency of collaboration in learning   3) inadequacy of real contexts to guarantee the utilization of learning results in the organization   4) challenges in understanding what should be taken into account concerning individuals in contextual collaborative learning   5) versatility of possible guiding interventions in a contextual collaborative learning process.   The results of the exploration were used to direct a literature search for relevant theories. The main research question at this stage was: What kind of general model could support the implementation of contextual collaborative learning in an enterprise environment? This question was divided into five subquestions:   1) What kind of theoretical evidence can be found to support the importance of context in learning, and what kind of disadvantages can contextuality have? What different possibilities are there to utilize contexts?   2) What kind of theoretical evidence can be found to support the importance of collaboration in learning, and what kind of disadvantages can collaboration have? What is needed to facilitate collaboration?   3) What factors concerning individuals should be taken into account in contextual collaborative learning?   4) What is needed to ensure the utilization of learning results in the organization?   5) How should guidance be carried out? How could the entity of contextual collaborative learning be facilitated?

The framework of sociocultural constructivism was used as the main theoretical tool to answer the questions. A model for facilitation of learning was constructed by combining the findings from the empirical data and the relevant theories from literature. Finally the model was validated against the research data to ensure that it still, after modifications, was consistent with the data.

The main contribution of the study is a contextual and collaborative learning model which connects three different organizational contexts: organization level, organizational unit level, and expert community level contexts. The model consists of two parts: a problem-based learning part where basic knowledge in important areas is improved in a structured case-based way and a self-directive part, where strategic projects are carried out in groups participating in a community of practice at the same time. The model offers a framework for practical actions to facilitate contextual and collaborative learning in an enterprise environment.

Keywords: organizational learning, problem-based learning, community of practice, contextual learning, situational learning, collaborative learning

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© 2003 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26