4 Feb 2020

Meaningful Learning in Different Settings

European Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning (EAPRIL) brings together people interested in practice-based research in various learning contexts from formal education to professional learning. Networking and discussion are supported by Clouds, thematic hubs for those with similar research interests.

We attended the EAPRIL2019 conference in the beautiful city of Tartu, Estonia 27 - 29 November. The conference had around 500 participants from over 30 nationalities. For more information, see the infographic https://eapril.org/sites/default/files/2019-12/EAPRIL2019%20Dashboard_FINAL.pdf

The theme of EAPRIL 2019, meaningful learning, was reflected in the keynotes and conference presentations. Meaningful learning in higher education embraces lifelong and continuous learning, and entails a deep, connected approach to learning. In turn, the approach challenges practice-based research community as a mediator of change. The agency and identity of practitioners were addressed by two of the keynotes, prof. Jean Murray (University of East London), who introduced models of practice-based research of professional workplace learning; and prof. Äli Leijen (University of Tartu) who discussed, through Biesta et al. ecological model of agency, how reflection can support developing agency in the workplace.

The other presentations covered education at all levels, from primary school to professional development. The methodological range and variety was impressive. However, the most meaningful learning for us, was how the conference encouraged sharing and active, open dialogue among the participants.

We had the pleasure to give our presentation “Future work skills 2025 - participatory anticipation of competence” on the first day of the conference. EAPRIL conference seeks to be a venue for sharing and discussion, which was reflected in the structure of the sessions: we had a 20 min presentation with 25 minutes for discussion. Our method was appreciated by the audience, thus spreading the results of the eAMK project (curriculum development) and contributing to the image of JAMK as pedagogical innovator. Furthermore, the discussion was active and lively, and the insights from the audience will guide us in taking the next steps in our work.

In general, the EAPRIL was a fruitful event for knowledge exchange and networking. For our professional development and growth, the sessions and encounters during the conference were meaningful, and may possibly result in future projects and partnerships. A practical result was that Ilona was assigned as a new Cloud coordinator for Cloud 3 – Strategies to improve teaching and learning environments. Clouds have spotlight sessions in the conference and webinars between them so if you want to share your work under this theme in EAPRIL 2020, do not hesitate to contact us.

The conference center was in the heart of Tartu, which gave us an opportunity to take a stroll in town to enjoy the historic buildings and modern art. Tartu will be Estonia's European Capital of Culture in 2024

Check out our presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/eamkhanke/future-work-skills-2025-participatory-anticipation-of-competence

Text: Anne Hakala, JAMK University of Applied Sciences and Ilona Laakkonen, JAMK University of Applied Sciences
Pictures: Ilona Laakkonen, JAMK University of Applied Sciences