Practice and progress of Geelong as a learning city

Wong, S 2004, Practice and progress of Geelong as a learning city, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Education, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Practice and progress of Geelong as a learning city
Author(s) Wong, S
Year 2004
Abstract This project aimed to demonstrate that a commitment by a community to improve access to lifelong learning opportunities as a Learning City enhances the quality of life of its citizens and improves its economic conditions through a more creative, stable and adaptable community.

In May 2000, the newly elected Labor Government in Victoria launched the Victorian 'Learning Towns' Program. Based on a United Kingdom (UK) model that had been developing since 1995 with demonstrable success, the nine (and later, ten) rural and regional cities and towns in the Victorian pilot program were the first in Australia to receive funding to support lifelong learning as an approach towards achieving sustainable economic development and social inclusiveness. This research focused on the practice and progress of SmartGeelong - The Leaming City, one of the pilot programs. It presented an opportunity to evaluate the economic and social development of a community that has declared itself a Learning City by posing the following research questions:

1. What are the key characteristics of a Leaming City and what determines these?

2. What are the value added outcomes? How can the depth and breadth of participation be entrenched?

3. What are the indicators of success and effectiveness in a Leaming City?

Having made this observation however, the capacity for the cultural change in an ACE driven learning community to be sustainable is likely to be limited unless it engages local government in meaningful ways to ensure that those changes are long term. Currently, the contribution by local government to learning communities in Australia is varied and can be erratic. The experience in the UK supports the observation in Australian learning communities that where there is a commitment that is understood by local government, it is possible to improve social inclusion and local economic performance.

This research has concluded that its most significant finding is the effectiveness of the neutral space that a concept such as the Leaming City provides. By providing a conceptual space that is non threatening, non competitive and belongs to the whole community rather than any one organisation, it is possible to develop cross sectoral partnerships among organisations that may be competitors in other environments, that add value to communities, overcome barriers and develop creative responses that address local issues and build community capacity.

The research describes the experience of building a learning community, of lessons learned and insights gained. Through example, it provides a foundation for other communities that may be interested in pursuing this concept. However, while it is possible to develop a learning community through the commitment and initiative of local leaders, it is made more difficult in the absence of a national policy commitment to lifelong learning. Despite this, the research concludes that through the careful development and nurturing of all partners, the process of developing a learning community is effective, sustainable and makes a positive impact.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Education
Keyword(s) Adult learning
Lifelong learning
Community education
Learning communities
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Created: Mon, 29 Nov 2010, 16:09:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
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