Gairín Sallán, J., & Rodríguez-Gómez, D. (Eds.). (2020). Aprendizaje organizativo e informal en los centros educativos [Organisational and informal learning in educational centres]. (Maria del Mar Duran Bellonch)
Gairín Sallán, J., & Rodríguez-Gómez, D. (Eds.). (2020).
Aprendizaje organizativo e informal en los centros educativos [Organisational and informal learning in educational centres].
Pirámide. 162 pp.
Although much has been written about organisations that learn and there are numerous theoretical approaches to this topic, there are still few works that specifically consider it in the case of educational organisations. The book that interests us here helps remedy this shortcoming. Informal learning processes that result in the transformation of organisations are currently present in the field of education, although they are not sufficiently widespread. Another problem with this topic is the difficulty of understanding some of the concepts used in it: is an organisation that learns the same thing as organisational learning?; what do learning processes have to do with managing knowledge? are they the same or do they differ?; has the latter been abandoned in favour of the former?; who really learns? the professional who is employed, the group, or the organisation?; is speaking about organisations that learn not ultimately a word game? The authors of this work consider these and other questions and offer their own answers clearly and simply, something that is welcome when covering topics that at first sight might not appear to be very practical. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. The day to day life of educational organisations is shaped by many of the processes that are explained and analysed in this book. Apart from bringing the reader into contact with this reality, the work provides numerous strategies to be put into practice, which are devised to support people who set out to accept change as one of the main driving forces of their organisation.
Some of the work’s main theses and an overview of its structure are provided below.
If the members of an organisation learn and this learning then has an impact on the organisation, we can state that the organisation learns. This is the starting position of the editors of this work. Organisational learning is understood as a process in which: errors are detected and corrected; organisational knowledge is shared and developed; actions in the organisation are improved; ideas, processes, and mental models are exchanged; competences are acquired collectively by the members of the organisation; changes are made to structures of cognition; and where transformation of the organisation is pursued to achieve efficacy and quality (p. 39).
In addition, the editors of this work note that members learn in a variety of ways, with the ones known as “informal” being of most interest to them. In very broad terms, it could be said that informal learning is regarded in this work as the type that is not organised in syllabuses or restricted to specific contexts. It is a self-directed learning in which professionals decide what, how, where, and when to learn and which resources to use based on their everyday professional needs or interests (p.42).
At a time when business organisations are putting all their weight behind encouraging informal learning, treating it as the strategic cornerstone of their policy, educational organisations cannot and should not be neglected. Fortunately, many educational centres have started processes of change that are deliberately aimed at improvement and based on informal learning by their staff.
The work that concerns us here has eight chapters, and we believe it could be divided into three sections, although it is not. The first section comprises chapters one and two. In them, the editors of this work, Gairín and Rodríguez-Gómez, lay the conceptual foundations for change, improvement, innovation, development of organisational learning, and informal learning. In the first chapter they examine, from a critical perspective, the current situation of innovation in educational centres. In chapter two, they lay the theoretical foundations for the possibility of organisational learning based on informal learning, through knowledge management processes. Furthermore, ideas for promoting informal learning are set out, such as research-action, coaching and peer-coaching, and feedback 390, among others.
What could be treated as the second section comprises three chapters, each dedicated to an intrinsic part of the process of organisational change. Chapter three considers the design of the process of change, providing ideas for how to choose a particular planning model, how to set the boundaries of the needs for change, and how to guarantee the right dynamic during its execution.
Chapter four develops the process of implementing change, starting with an analysis of this process that makes it possible to detect the main errors often committed in it, with the authors making suggestions on how to confront, minimise, or eliminate each of them. The chapter also ends with practical advice on how to reduce resistance to change, which is impossible to ignore and, in this case, eliminate fully.
Chapter five sets out the advantages of evaluation in any process of change. It then specifies key actions for this evaluation and also for institutionalising the change that is achieved. In fact, the authors consider that without this last stage in the process, it is not truly possible to speak of organisational learning. The chapter concludes with particularly interesting ideas for maintaining an organisational culture aimed at innovation through sustainable change. To achieve this, participatory processes are especially important.
Finally, what could be regarded as a third section examines in depth the means or tools that make driving change, developing it, and integrating it into the organisation possible and facilitate these processes. Chapter six introduces social media, serious games, and gamification as an illuminating conceptual approach. It then sets out how these tools can be applied appropriately in the field of education, specifically for fostering teachers’ learning in applications and services for accessing and processing information; for communication, interaction, and training on line. The chapter ends with a full summary of the current position of the use of technology by teachers.
Chapter seven provides a detailed description of various experiences in the use of technology, in this case for professional development and cooperative work in the field of education. The section on WhatsApp for teachers is especially interesting. This chapter also sets out best practices from a number of organisations from which we can learn, such as the Social Services Area of Barcelona Council, the Institute of Public Safety of Catalonia, and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, among others.
Finally, the last chapter is dedicated to what is most important in the first and last instance in any learning process: the person. The editors of the work develop topics that are of interest, such as the role of people as knowledge promoters and the professional, institutional, and ethical challenges that must be confronted: what will be the practical and theoretical agenda for organisational development in coming years?; if the person makes organisational learning possible on the basis of individual learning, then what relationship must be established between the person and the educational organisation?; how can personal ethics be combined with organisational ethics? The authors offer tentative answers for these and other interesting questions, which will undoubtedly inspire readers to action starting from a good theoretical basis.
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