Collaborative learning in communities

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As the state retracts further in the Netherlands, the role of civil society increases. Only now the impact becomes visible due to changing arrangements in the social domain. Since enormous cuts in the welfare budgets have been implemented; creative innovations by civil initiatives are much needed to cater for welfare and care arrangements.
In the Netherlands we see various developments: a group of citizens did become more active in taking care of their social and physical environment and well-being. We see a shift from ‘third generation ’civil participation, where citizens contribute to value creation, to the ‘fourth generation’ civil involvement where citizens are in the driving seat, local government follows, and social professionals facilitate. In the meantime there are many communities where citizens need to be facilitated to gain more ownership over their social and physical environment.
These developments put citizens, social professionals and civil servants in new roles, even new identities, that require specific (new) capacities/practices of interaction. As for social professionals a more situational approach is needed with a variety of behavioral practices. Those capacities/practices will not come automatically but must be cultivated and learned by the actors.
We have intensified our research about developing these capacities in various collaborative learning settings in community development projects where professionals and citizens (and local government) are involved. Collaborative learning is a way of learning while working together. In our research we are experimenting with this broad concept (Dillenbourg 1999) in various settings, that we see as learning environments. Social professionals are involved in all settings.All learning environments are about enhancing mutual understanding by the actors involved of each other’s positions as well as about fostering the learning, reflective, resilient capacities of the community involved (Maton e.a. 1995).In some learning processes the role of citizens(civic learning) gets special attention (Biesta 2011) .
In our recent research we gained more insight into the possibilities and limitations of the process of collaborative learning and insight into the learning outcomes of these processes for citizens and social professionals. We would like to share and discuss our experiences and findings in a consumer managed residential homeless and mental care residence; in a field lab in Amsterdam East where the learning proces supposedly contributes to individual and collective empowerment and local democracy, in the context of livingroom talks about ageing where the private space becomes a public playground for democracy and in a more international comparative perspective the challenges of legitimacy social work professionals face when they involve in collaborative learning project.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event 6th International conference on sociology and social work - Hogeschool Windesheim, Zwolle, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Aug 201626 Aug 2016


Conference 6th International conference on sociology and social work


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