The modern economy is undergoing tremendous changes radically in processes and structures in the society. The internationalization of markets and globalization of technologies are the orders of the modern society. Globalization also refers to products that are knowledge intensive, and implies diffusion of both marketing, and research and development on a global level. This decentralization of the structure of the economy has led to the enhanced rate of learning, evolvement of new structures of organizations, development of knowledge intensive goods and services, and strengthening of information technology, intellectual; capital, and technology fusion. All these developments emphasize the importance and role of knowledge and subsequent learning in the economic progress and competitiveness of organizations (Mehra & Dhawan, 2003).
A synopsis on Progressive Learning
The term progressive learning or progressive education had been used first during late nineteenth century when it was used to distinguish this education from the traditional one characterized by a set curriculum. The traditional education prepared one for university examinations and had no relevance to the socio-economic conditions of the society. To the contrary, progressive learning is based on one's present experiences. It emphasizes learning during actual execution of a task, or performance of duty. Some of the common qualities in most of the progressive learning programs are enunciated below to have a comprehensive definition of progressive learning (Progressive education).
- Progressive education is imbibed in course of one’s life experiences. It is learning by experience, and experience gained in one’s professional career.
- It encompasses curriculum based on the theme of the unit or organization, and it also includes entrepreneurship in education.
- Promoting critical thinking and problem solving.
- It emphasizes social skills and group culture development.
- It favors achieving of knowledge by action and understanding, and not just crammed knowledge.
- Promote learning by cooperation and collaboration.
- Progressive learning is social responsibility, a trait of democracy.
- The learning is highly personalized as per the personal goal of individual.
- The day to day curriculum includes community service and learning projects related to it.
- The subject of learning is selected keeping an eye on skills required in the future for the society.
- It emphasizes learning through multiple resources but discourages books.
- Progressive learning is based on the concept that continues for the whole of one's life. It favors development of social skills.
- The assessment under this learning is done by evaluating the learner’s productions and his projects (Progressive education).
As per Dewey, a prominent figure of the “Progressive Education Movement” in the U.S. in the years between 1880s and 1904, defined education as "--participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race" (Progressive Education, Para 1). The focus of education, according to him, should be on the individual being a social being. Learning begins with the advent of the human being, and it develops as he grows facilitating him or her to assimilate with the aspirations of the society. It is the child’s own instincts that should be pivotal in acquiring knowledge. Knowledge is a condition of society, and the learning process should facilitate students to construct their learning as per their inclinations. Setting preconditions to the child’s learning is detrimental to his natural growth process.
Progressive learning is characterized by its abhorrence to conformity and standardization. There have been diverse opinions about its features and methods. While some gives importance to individual needs, some others accord significance to community learning. A school of thought defines learning as a journey while another thinks it to be a destination. However, no school or organization is wholly traditional in the sense that progressive ideas are always there in the midst of traditional approaches. Learning does not be acquired in isolation but in association of others that we call community. Children imbibe knowledge from others in a community that cares. Progressive learning places are characterized by a culture of working together rather than to perform as per the model (Barrett & Taylor, 2008).
Under progressive learning students have their say in the designing of the curriculum, formulation of questions, creation of answers, thinking of possibilities, and evaluating of their own performances and that of their teachers. Their involvement in the formulation of every stage of the learning process is in commensurate with the concept of progressive learning. It is a way of formation of ideas, and not absorption of information or adopting a skill. When students invest much of their time in thinking and formulating ideas, and not in cramming facts and figures; it is progressive learning.
Organizational learning involves developing insight into things, and associating past experiences in the present context effectively which depends upon the capability of the organization to disseminate and diffuse common knowledge and understanding. Organizations and employees must constantly change and adapt to the fast changing scenarios by adopting knowledge intensive processes and newer technologies. The application of technologies facilitates individuals and organizations to focus more on R&D, and evaluate the changing environment in the present day context. It enhances productivity, rate of acquisition of knowledge, and provides opportunities to think and anticipate future trends (Mehra & Dhawan, 2003).
There are misunderstandings galore with respect to progressive learning that does not favor strict supervision of teachers. Teachers may know each student well; they may be responsive and warm, and they may pride in having good communion with students, but all these do not make them progressive. Also, the school may culturally be progressive, but not educationally. Progressive education is also not all fun, and nothing that is not fun; and teachers have just to stand and watch (Kohn, 2008).
The term progressive learning has often been used to define practices and ideas aiming to make the school a tool of the democratic society. Democracy implies public participation in all human activities by making it social, political, economic, or academic. The progressive learning in this perspective contains two significant elements. The first is the respect for diversity which emphasizes distinctness of individual in terms of his interests, abilities, needs, abilities, ideas, and cultural identity. The second is the evolvement of critical and socially engaged intelligence that are instrumental in the enabling of an individual to internalize and participate in the community affairs as a collaborative quest for the achievement of a common goal. These two elements of progressive learning have been branded as approaches that are “child centered and social re-constructionist.” Also, it has been the emphasis of schooling to add and support the constantly developing industrial economy with the establishment of a competitive meritocracy, and readying workforces for a variety of vocational roles (Dewey, 2002).
Progressive learning refers to learning by doing, and is applicable in case of one’s professional career as well. Organizations now encourage every employee to plan its skill development, and the process is often termed as progressive professional development or continuing professional development (CPD). The realm of knowledge is changing fast, and hence, one should strive hard to keep himself abreast with the latest. The continued professional development requires maintenance, development, and enhancement of knowledge, skills, and competence professionally as well as personally to achieve improvement in performance of one’s duty. The continued or progressive learning is an exhibition of one’s commitment to his professionalism. It points to one’s personal efforts and responsibilities to ensure that he develops knowledge and skills essential to meet ever changing challenges. Apart from organizational sources, technology facilities one’s for other sources as audio and videos as well as online courses to enhance the skills This process is beneficial for the individual himself, his colleagues, clients and sponsors, and, of course, the organization. The reasons for continued knowledge and competence development are enunciated below:
- Maintaining capability and competence for the performance of one's present duties. Though managers have the responsibility of organizing such training programs, but it is one's individual responsibility to update, develop compatible skills, and anticipate change.
- It also helps ensure legal and social responsibilities of the organization.
- It requires continued enthusiasm and motivation for internalizing new developments and knowledge.
- Promote one to take further responsibilities, and to show his performance quality.
- For the purpose to show one's assimilation with the organization.
All higher ups in the organization have to exhibit an eagerness to develop skills and competence by organizing workshops, seminars, and lectures to keep themselves as well as other employees abreast with the latest developments. Progressive learning is a process that is planned and well directed. Individuals have to determine their need and direction for learning. Managers can encourage employees on this count by appropriate and unbiased feedbacks and appraisals that may prove helpful for further competence development. The objectives and direction of learning should be well defined, and should be in commensurate with organizational and individual goals. It is imperative that one visualizes his position for future five to ten years in the organization and accordingly, he plans his training and education to become able to shoulder enhanced responsibilities (Barrett & Taylor, 2008).
The success of progressive learning in a professional career depends on the wherewithal and infrastructures provided by the employer. Increasing productivity and skill of the workforce as an ongoing process is the key to the development of the organization. Motivation should be supplemented with such tools, devices, and technologies that may act as a catalyst to the progressive education, as well as the achievement of goals of the organization. The use of modern technology needs special mention as it pervades every aspect of human activities. The use of different software for enhancing business productivity, application of automation processes, and adopting fast communication strategy facilitate organization more on priorities and preferences resulting in faster rates of completion of projects. The use of technology creates an open environment for communication, facilitates connection of various teams with the company, enhances motivation of employees, and helps monitor productivity of the business and the employee. It also helps analyze employees’ performances vis-à-vis the organization goal. It is important that employees are appreciated for their efforts, high commitment level, and skill development ("Using technology to," 2014).
Conclusively the application of technologies in businesses has revolutionized business operations. The organizations must have an atmosphere that conducive to knowledge sharing, and application of technologies that are the need of the hour. The processes, procedures, and products need to change continually, and hence, require continuous updating. Learning in this scenario refers to the acquisition, practicing, and interpretation of knowledge by an enterprise or an individual. Progressive learning enables one to process information and enhanced understanding that leads to competence building in an organization.
Barrett, B., & Taylor, J. (September 08,2008). Continuing personal and professional development at UCL, [Online]. Retrieved from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/od/resources/continuing_prof_dev_guide.pdf
Dewey, J. (January 01,2002). A brief overview of progressive education [Online], Retrieved from http://www.uvm.edu/~dewey/articles/proged.html
Kohn, A. (2008). Progressive education. Spring, Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/progressive.htm
Mehra, K. & Dhawan, S.K.(2003). Study of the process of organizational learning in software firms in India, Technovation, 23,121–129.
Progressive Education. In Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_education
Progressive Education - John Dewey vs. the Alexander Technique.(n.d.). Retrieved from http://dewey.area24.net/ProgressiveEducation.htm
Using technology to increase your business productivity, (2014). Retrieved from http://www.successfactors.com/en_us/lp/articles/using-technology-to-increase-your-business-productivity.html