Organisational Problem Based Learning and Social Communities for SMEs

Emma O’Brien [], University of Limerick, Ileana Hamburg [], Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen


This paper highlights reasons for SMEs low uptake of training and argues that current offerings are not suitable for their needs. It highlights the need to leverage the benefits of work based learning through the use of technology. Social media and web 2.0 has significantly changed the way people learn and access knowledge. The body of knowledge is exponentially increasing every day. It is difficult for individuals and companies to keep abreast of new developments. A new approach to learning is required for companies, focusing on their immediate needs while building competitive advantage. Problem based learning (PBL) is a highly contextualised approach to learning and can use staff development to target real problems the companies face. PBL requires collaboration from mentors and peers, thus there is an element of social learning that takes place. The paper examines the use of problem based learning and social learning and communities in SMEs. It highlights the fact that this approach will allow SMEs acquire additional expertise and skills outside of their organisation while at the same time developing staff. To date there has been little research conducted into organisational problem based learning. PBL is widely used in academic courses however not in companies. Mentoring and social learning are widely used in SMEs however it is often unstructured and the return of such is unclear compared to academic contexts. This paper suggests that further research needs to be conducted in using Problem based learning. It examines the use of PBL in an organisational context and explores the role of ICT based mentoring through social communities in supporting such.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, interaction, learning management system, LMS,

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