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Vocational Education and Training Institutions' Collaboration with the World of Work from the Perspective of Actor Networks and Ecosystems of Learning

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Vocational Education and Training Institutions' Collaboration with the World of Work from the Perspective of Actor Networks and Ecosystems of Learning

Vocational and professional education institutions, as well as higher education institutions, are more and more expected to collaborate with the world of work and each other. At the same time, the boundaries of organisations have become somewhat blurred. Employers may be subcontractors for a larger firm or subdivisions of an enterprise (organisation) may serve their headquarters through digital connections on the other side of the globe. As a result, the forms and cultures of organisations that educational institutions are expected to collaborate with have become rather complex and difficult to figure out. In order to better understand the complexities of the collaborative practices that educational institutions are dealing with, this study explores, in particular, two approaches that theorise transformed organisations: actor–network theory (ANT) and discussions on ecosystems of learning (EL). The authors investigated what characteristics of the ‘collaborative contract’ in educational institutions’ collaborations with the world of work these two approaches are able to address. The analysis is based on a selected literature overview of research incorporating the ANT or EL concepts. Empiric examples are drawn from a study on two developmental collaborative networks of Finnish universities of applied sciences, eAMK and Toteemi.

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