Symbiotic Learning Systems: Reorganizing and Integrating Learning Efforts and Responsibilities Between Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) and Work Places








This article presents the idea of “symbiotic learning systems” as a possible strategy for dealing with institutional knowledge and learning challenges posed by an emerging transition from “socially monopolized” to “socially distributed” knowledge generation and distribution. As knowledge production and learning become increasingly relocated from segregated and specialized institutions for research and education and socially distributed to and within “ordinary” work life, corresponding changes are required in the basic institutionalized relationships between research, higher education, and practical knowledge application. The concept of “symbiotic learning” addresses these problems by deconstructing age-old divisions between vocational and liberal education. In order to build foundations for a changed and improved relationship between advanced organizations in work life and institutions of higher education and research (HEIs), the general preconditions for learning in the work places themselves need to be addressed. In modeling general preconditions for learning, and even in transcending the division of labor between manual and intellectual work, inspiration is found in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, and in their search for intellectual “commons” (tà koiná) as constituting public spheres and community among individuals.



Copyright: The Author(s) 2012. This article is published with open access at

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