The role of conversation in education (workplace learning and higher education) is a topical and pertinent subject relevant in both academic and workplace contexts. Its place as a concept within education could be argued to be increasing in importance, heightened by current changes in society as a whole.
Globalisation has increasingly brought people together despite space and time zone differences and has equally been realised through establishing distributed virtual teams in the workplace and through developing distance learning courses for dispersed, remote and often diverse learners in higher education. In both of these learning contexts communication is fundamental.
In addition, traditional cohorts of students now entering Higher Education could be considered a dialogic generation of student, all be it text based. The use of SMS mobile texting, email, chatrooms and services like MSN for instant messaging or Facebook, Myspace or Twitter for networking and online chat seem common place amongst this dialogic generation.
Education is evolving and responding to society's needs to facilitate the learning process for them. Both workplace and Higher Education are radically changing their teaching and networking spaces. Computers (PCs, laptops, sophisticated phones like the iphone, blackberries) pervade the workplace, whether you are an office worker, travelling financial adviser, mobile hairdresser or washing machine repair person. Cybercafés are springing up, wireless connections are available in hotel rooms, on trains and at the lakeside in Vevey on Lake Geneva. Images of libraries are changing too, to more social spaces to capitalise on this type of learning. Their atmosphere is evolving from passive to active, from hushed inner sanctum of knowledge to energised environment in order to reflect current lifestyles and ways of working. Libraries are setting aside more space for conversation and group work, collaborative learning and knowledge sharing and for technology and portable communication devices, including laptops, phones etc. (Foreman, 2009, p. 1).
But have things really moved on?