There is often a disjoint between classroom theory and on-the-job learning that is demotivating for apprentices and makes it difficult for them to apply the theory to make subsequent learning easier.
Not all apprentices see classroom theory as important to job performance or productivity and they are often more engaged and productive in the workplace than during on-programme training. Appropriate use of mobile technologies can harness networks of apprentices, training provider staff and managers to relate apprentices’ work experiences to the classroom.
By inviting apprentices to post, and comment on, pictures and experiences of practical work you can develop a growing library of real-life scenarios that helps contextualise the curriculum. Such real case studies assist apprentices in identifying and understanding technical components, systems and occupational processes and principles involved.
The kind of situations that crop up in the workplace (for example, out-of-date practices, broken equipment and poor workmanship that needs to be rectified) are often impossible to replicate in a classroom setting.
Sharing photos of unpredictable problems can stimulate discussion between apprentices and improve their technical knowledge and problem-solving approaches. Being part of such a community of practice also helps the apprentices develop their own professional identity.
Simon Reddy has used closed Facebook groups with plumbing apprentices at City of Plymouth College. Apprentices share their work-related experiences enjoy peer-to-peer learning.