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Learning considerations. Scenarios and practices of training in the social economy.
An article By Alessio Ceccherelli, Researcher in Sociology of Cultural Processes and Communication University of Rome Tor Vergata
Our idea of learning becomes naturalised over time. Instinctively, we are inclined to think that we have always learned ‘this way’, it has always been ‘this way’, taking for granted and as natural certain practices and modalities of learning and teaching: those we have experienced first-hand. It is a typical cognitive bias, which makes us generalise experiences that are instead particular. In reality, that ‘way’ depends highly on the context in which we learned, a context of specific spaces, times, modes, and technologies. All of these are constantly changing in relation to the changes affecting societies as a whole: cultural forms, relational ways, and media environments that manage our relationship with reality. Not least the economic system on which societies are based.
Education systems are increasingly the object of economic interest, being conditioned somehow. It is not only a matter of the technologies and media in use (think not only of computers and tablets but also of the publishing market, on which much of the world of training, whether school, university or for adults, is based). We also refer to the basic logic that is permeating the training systems, which are increasingly structured according to a sense that is in many ways corporatist: the student is often perceived as a clientele to which training offers are presented in competition (we speak of a training market); the evaluation system shifts the emphasis to competition rather than cooperation; training needs are increasingly associated with the individual, with the result of investing in personalised and individual rather than community growth.
Furthermore, worldwide education systems compete with a media ecosystem constantly producing and disseminating information and knowledge. Not only are we exposed on television and the Internet to an enormous quantity of knowledge of varying quality (we speak not by chance of infotainment and edutainment), but today, those who want to deepen their passion, satisfy their curiosity, find information on any subject or disciplinary field, have tens if not hundreds of web sources at their disposal. Those involved in education today must be aware of the variety and quantity of competitors, both formal (other educational institutions) and informal (the media ecosystem).
To reason about new learning paths and alternative learning methods, it is, in short, necessary to start from a general concept of learning and how it fits into the current social, cultural and media context. Let us, therefore, talk about time, space, ways of learning, and technologies, always having as a constant reference the underlying economic logic.
The forms of learning (and, more generally, of education) change over time. They are made of time and times. And of spaces. But time and space are not stable concepts; they also change over time. That is, the perception we have of them changes. The time we live in today, that we perceive today, is very different from that of 50, 100, 1000 years ago. It is a time that has been fragmented and reduced almost to nothing (Castells, 1996), giving us the illusion of instantaneousness; we have the impression that we can achieve things, reach goals, and satisfy desires with very little time, almost with a click. But it is a time that we have less and less available, that we always lack to be able to do what we want, what we need, what we are asked to do. On the one hand, the universal coordinated time regulates our movements, appointments, and financial transitions; on the other hand, our inner time is based on the rhythm of our desires (Kern, 1983).
What does this have to do with learning? We could answer, quite simply, everything. By learning, we change the synaptic arrangement of our brain. Learning is change, and change manifests itself with time. Learning, therefore, is intimately linked to time. It is the time we spend acquiring new notions and knowledge, practising our skills, and developing our competencies, which only make sense in the temporal dimension. We are not immediately or permanently competent; competencies can also become rusty. We can spend years learning a language, practising it in situations. Still, if practice decreases to the point of stopping, we will lose that competency over time.
The more time we devote to learning, the higher its quality and results. It is a matter that seems at first sight quantitative, objective: more time, more learning. But we know very well that this is not the case because our learning capacity is not always the same. Its porosity changes, conditioned by so many variables. One of them is undoubtedly our motivation, our desire to learn, a desire that derives mainly from the object of our learning (what we learn), but also from the manner (how we learn) and the context (where and with whom we learn). The word ‘study’ etymology is emblematic: stūdīum is ‘interest, propensity, passion’, a derivative of studēre, which means ‘to aspire, to desire ardently’. Once again, we are dealing with the relationship between time and desire, a time to be understood as personal, which changes from person to person. And also from context to context because desire is not infrequently hetero-directed, aroused by others through involvement or suggestion.
How much time can we devote to learning, to studying, nowadays? Despite its etymology, the typical association with the word ‘study’ is boredom, fatigue, or even futility. Studying is often considered a waste of time, not only by the young or very young who would rather play and have fun. Moreover, our life goes by so fast. The diversity of our commitments and interests pushes us to use everything with speed: to watch a film while checking our social notifications, to listen to voice messages on WhatsApp twice as fast, to fast-forward videos to the highlights, to search for the correct answers in the magnum sea of the web, to make artificial intelligence software do assignments of medium complexity: all to gain time, to experience more things.
Time and desire: this is – mainly – what we are talking about when we talk about learning.
The space in which we live has also changed. ‘The shape of a city, as we all know, changes more quickly than the mortal heart’, wrote Baudelaire well over a hundred years ago. Streets, shops, buildings, architecture change. It has always been this way, but scientific progress and industrial revolutions have altered the pace of this change, intensifying it. The perception of distances, the speed of movement and crossing has changed, closely related to time. How we live in space has changed, now perceived in its physical and material dimension and semantic density (road signs, shop and public authority signs, advertisements, information screens). This is even more true in an era in which we are aware that we are simultaneously living in another spatial dimension: the virtual one, enabled by digital and networked technologies. We are constantly onlife, using the term Luciano Floridi coined (2014).
Here again, technologies play a decisive role, in turn, linked to the objectives required or imposed by economic and political reasons. A physical space that can be traversed more quickly increases the possibility of political relations and the ease of commercial connection. The availability of a virtual space enables communications perceived as instantaneous, and the space itself becomes a territory for positioning and commercial manoeuvring.
How do learning practices fit into this changed scenario? What are the relationships established between educational and profit-related needs? The first thing that comes to mind is undoubtedly the relationship between online and offline, between the virtual and face-to-face classroom, which for years has been at the centre of a debate on the quality of teaching and learning, on the potential and criticalities that e-learning or – more generally – online learning brings with it. Since the beginning of its third phase, i.e. the one linked to digital and network technologies, distance education has been considered economically advantageous: no more need to gather tens or hundreds of people in the same place, no more travel and accommodation expenses, possibility to reuse the same training contents several times, possibility to prepare a course that can be used autonomously and automatically without the need for a direct relationship between students and teachers. However, all this almost immediately turned out to be ineffective from the learning point of view, which is why the idea of blended learning began to be put into practice, combining the positive characteristics of online training with those of face-to-face training and reviewing the meaning of the cost-effectiveness of a course: is the return on investment more significant for a course that requires little financial resources or for one more expensive but has better results in terms of learning and satisfaction?
The online-offline dichotomy continues to be used today, although it has become pleonastic. The global experience of COVID-19, which has forced a reformulation of certain working and relational practices, has also impacted the world of education. The concept of hybrid learning was introduced, which is not superimposable to that of blended learning: in the latter case, we speak of a succession of online and offline moments; in the former case, we talk about the simultaneity of online and offline, since students can enjoy the same training moment at a distance or in presence. What is clear is that it no longer makes much sense to distinguish between the two spatial experiences. We also live onlife as far as learning is concerned. We are online even when we take an in-presence course (the lecturer can make use of web resources by sharing them on the projected screen of his computer, students can search for information while the lecturer is speaking or distract themselves by checking their social networks); we are in a physical, material situation even when we take an online course (we have to decide where to position ourselves with our computer or smartphone, depending on the quality of the connection, the noise of the room, the background behind us, and decide what to wear).
The distinction, in short, makes less and less sense. Using the available environments, whether physical or virtual, in a coordinated and collaborative manner can only be beneficial to the effectiveness of teaching and learning. The awareness of living and acting in a hybrid learning environment means being able to do immediate research to be shared with others (the definition of a term, a picture of a city or neighbourhood, an explanatory graph, etc.); assigning cooperative work involving the use of creative or generative software; leaving it to the individual abilities of the students to delve independently into topics that they do not have the time to address together. The effectiveness of this contemporaneity is bound to increase with the use of more refined technologies such as Augmented Reality, which has potentially very effective training applications, from on-the-job learning to context-aware training, helpful in many fields (surgery, biology, archaeology, art history, technical training, etc.).
However, the current educational scenario has to come to terms with a virtual dimension beyond its relationship with physical reality. The Virtual Reality experience is becoming more and more technologically mature. Just think of Meta’s substantial financial investment in creating and promoting the Metaverse as a space for human action, primarily commercial but not only. Again, the educational potential is manifold, especially for specific fields: think of the reconstruction of archaeological and cultural sites, the three-dimensional visualisation of a molecule and its possible interactions with other molecules, and much more. But what is the economic value of this space? How does the Metaverse’s commercial base affect the possibility of our access and, thus, our presence in it?
Beyond the Metaverse, our experience with virtual spaces now has a long history. Not only thanks to the first collective experiments in the early 2000s (think of Second Life, whose servers are still functioning), but mainly thanks to the growing presence of video games in the lives of young people (first) and adults (later). The video game puts the human being in contact with digital objects and spaces, capable of providing constant feedback to his actions. The quality of the dialogue between activity and feedback is decisive for achieving goals. This is true for enabling a gamer to reach the last level and defeat the final boss and for facilitating a student in acquiring knowledge, skills and competencies. Moreover, experiments in didactics through or with video games are not rare, and even more frequent are the scientific and academic reflections on the relationship between learning and video game worlds (Gee, 2003; Ceccherelli & Ilardi, 2019).
The spaces of our learning are constantly changing and – today more than yesterday – offer themselves to our bodies and actions in an overlapping and contemporary way, even for a purely technological discourse (Rivoltella & Rossi, 2019). However, we should not forget that learning always takes place in a specific spatial context that affects the quality of learning (and teaching). Learning is always situated (Lave & Wenger, 1991). It occurs differently depending on how the learner’s body relates to the learning objects and other bodies sharing the same learning space (students or teachers).
Technologies and modes are thus fundamental to managing the learner’s relationship with space-time and the object of knowledge.
The Metaverse’s digital and three-dimensional appearance makes its technological, artificial nature evident. It is thanks to the innovations of the last 30 years or so that it is now possible to have an immersive experience in an alternative world to the real one: computers or other devices capable of processing vast amounts of data quickly, with high rendering capacities; fast and stable Internet connections that allow one to connect more or less from wherever one wants, sharing space with many other people at the same time; state-of-the-art peripherals such as VR glasses that increase the degree of immersiveness. These technologies are concretely visible when we use them to access the virtual dimension. They make our experience with these worlds both immediate (the illusion of being immersed in another reality) and hypermediated (the perception of the physicality of the tools we use to experience the virtual) (Bolter & Grusin, 2000).
The novelty of these tools also makes them even more perceptibly artificial to us. As we move back, we encounter technological innovations that are increasingly integral to our lives today. The tablet and the smartphone are no longer so new in our imaginary. They are not surprisingly systematically used in many educational contexts, including schools. Even more so, the personal computer is now so much a part of our daily work and study routines that it is taken for granted, even in classrooms, if only to enable the teacher to project his slides.
And yet, even though they are now commonplace, these tools still manifest their artificial nature, their ‘being technologies’ in our eyes. The same is not the case with the many other technologies humans have used for centuries to inform themselves, learn, and communicate. Take the book: when discussing technology at school or in training, we never or hardly ever refer to books but to computers, tablets, multimedia boards, etc. Yet the book is technology as much as the computer. To be precise, it is a medium in its own right, an environment in which we experience knowledge. In its various forms (printed, handwritten, in code, in volume, etc.), the book makes use of other technologies, other media: first and foremost, writing (alphabetical, but not only), but also images, miniatures, illustrations, and in certain specific cases tables, graphs: all different forms of knowledge that use additional communicative codes compared to writing. The alphabet is a speech technology, a set of graphemes and phonemes that only through a shared code can construct constructs endowed with meaning (Ong, 1982).
Books form the basis of school and university education, and – as a medium – they shape the knowledge with which human beings relate. The chronological, logical-causal, progressive, compartmentalised articulation of knowledge conveyed in school and university classrooms derives directly from how the book organises that knowledge. The typical structure of a training course, its subdivision into modules or units, the progressive going from the particular to the general (or vice versa), is traced back to the typical structure of the book in chapters, paragraphs, sub-paragraphs, etc.
Technologies and media shape knowledge. The contents that constitute a course can be communicated in different forms. Each form brings with it specific characteristics or at least certain tendencies. Reading a written text compels unambiguous concentration and requires more effort and attention, leaving us alone as learners, but it allows us to go deeper and in more detail. Watching and listening to an instructional video generally requires less attention but guides the learner more into the relationship with the knowledge dealt with. The learning experience in a virtual environment allows a direct and tactile connection with places or objects but generally prevents in-depth study, unless other codes (alphabetic, visual, auditory) are used within it.
Learning is entirely a matter of technology and media. The relationship with knowledge is always mediated, even on a lawn in the open air, listening only to the voice of a person talking to us. The very way we study is an artificial construction tested and improved over time. Each of us has a learning method, and the method is technology. In addition to technologies identifiable in tools (called product technologies), some systems and practices serve to optimise a process: they are called process technologies, and these include – in addition to method – design and evaluation (Guasti, 2002).
Let’s focus on the reading of a book: some people underline with a pencil, some with a highlighter, some with both or different colours, some by writing notes in the margins, some by making diagrams or maps or summaries; some need only one reading, some more than one, some repeat aloud, some repeat to another person, some do not repeat at all. These choices are not natural, but artificial, technological.
In his masterpiece, Didactica Magna (1657), the great philosopher and educationalist Jan Amos Komenský, considered the father of modern education, wrote: didactica artificium docendi sonat. Didactics is the art of teaching. Teaching is not a natural operation; it is an artifice. The same applies to learning. We learn to learn right from when we are very young. And we also know how to do it thanks to the tools and environments we have at our disposal.
We refer to a text written almost four centuries ago to discuss modern technologies. The fact that we cite Comenius to reason about current educational issues should make us focus on the concept of innovation in education. We always hear about new technologies, methods, and challenges in education, with an obsessive emphasis on novelty. The effectiveness of an educational approach does not lie in its originality but in the ability to adapt to ever-new situations, which change under a socio-cultural and economic context in perpetual evolution. The anxiety for innovation is the fruit of the capitalist financial system: it is profoundly based on novelty because novelty responds to consumption demands. New products, new desires. Let us, therefore, always pay attention to this aspect and not be fooled by the trends of the moment.
Nowadays, the most popular concepts when it comes to learning are artificial intelligence and algorithms. Compelling tools that accelerate the processes of knowledge composition and generation. So powerful as to frighten and create anxieties, even justified ones. The facilitation of certain conceptual operations can lead to cognitive laziness, to what McLuhan called narcosis of the senses (McLuhan, 1964): if a sense or capacity relies too much on its technological prostheses, it runs the risk of atrophying, of becoming numb, while stimulating other capabilities and senses. It is the typical mechanism established between technologies (understood as prostheses and extensions) and the set of senses (the sensorium), later taken up and extended by McLuhan in his conception of the tetrad (McLuhan & McLuhan, 1988). Each technology relates to the environment and other technologies according to four vectors: What enhances or intensifies? What retrieves that has already been superseded? What replaces or makes it obsolete? What produces or becomes when pushed to the extreme?
Artificial intelligence and algorithms are also positioned within this conceptual framework. They must be put in relation to what preceded them and what currently surrounds them. On the one hand, they can be seen as process accelerators. We can use them in the same way as calculators that speed up the performance of mathematical calculations, allowing us to spend more time solving more complex problems (but at the same time numbing our ability to perform complex calculations, such as square roots, for example). In the second case, we need to think of these technologies not as mere tools but as environments within which our cognitive capacities and possibilities of generating new knowledge change. Interaction with artificial intelligence (think of the now well-known ChatGPT or Bard) creates a dialogue between human and machine that is not predictable a priori because the machine’s feedback may lead to unexpected thoughts and curiosities, generating a counter-feedback that stimulates the machine to new elaborations. The outcome is a cultural product resulting from this relationship within a particular environment.
The algorithms underlying artificial intelligence are also in digital environments (see social media). They also can be incorporated into tools with other purposes (see automated help desks in the portals of large companies). They govern much of our ability to interact and ‘move’ within these spaces, leading to concepts such as filter bubbles (Pariser, 2011) and echo chambers (Nguyen, 2018) in which relational possibilities are ‘decided’ or facilitated by algorithms based on our tastes, our prejudices, our preferred communicative practices. A mechanism somewhat similar to the filter bubble is the one behind search engine results: the more a site is clicked on and viewed, the more it will appear at the top of search occurrences, leading in the long run to standardisation and homogenisation of knowledge. Nowadays, people rarely go beyond the first page of results, and almost always among the first three occurrences are sites such as Wikipedia or other popular portals. This mechanism also affects the quality and originality of knowledge because everyone is inclined to focus on the same sources.
This whole set of logics, underlying the many online spaces we frequent daily for different purposes (entertainment, consumption, research, communication, sharing), can be summarised in the umbrella term of platform society (Van Dijck, Poell, & De Waal, 2018). The concept highlights that our interaction with the web and the digital world is now filtered and mediated by private platforms that decide or can decide the forms of this mediation.
When it comes to learning, attention to the available technologies is therefore always appropriate. After all, awareness of how and through what we are learning is one of the main objectives of an increasingly urgent media education.
Time, space and technology directly affect the possible ways of learning. Conversely, ways of learning (and teaching) manage the relationship between space, time and technology differently within the more basic relationship between subject (who learns) and object (what is learnt), between body and knowledge.
A conceptual pair on which to base our reasoning around modes is that between formal and informal. We are not referring so much to the intentionality and context in which learning occurs (formal, non-formal and informal); instead, we are referring to the degree of structuring and formalisation of a learning pathway. These are extremes of a broad panorama of gradations: a black and white interspersed with many shades of grey.
On the one hand, we have structured, well-defined pathways that are clear in their approach and objectives, with an evaluation system based on structured tests that provide clear feedback and tend to be automated. An idea of learning that aims at effectiveness and maximising the effort and time devoted to learning knowledge that is spendable on the job market and, in any case, certifiable. Students can also embark on such a path independently, since the environment provides them with all the information necessary to achieve training objectives defined a priori, regardless of the skills possessed at the time of starting the path. From the epistemological point of view, there is an underlying idea of definite, specific knowledge, fragmentable into content units. The gaze is projected forward towards achieving goals through study and testing.
On the other hand, there are less structured pathways, where objectives are not always defined at the outset and where the information already possessed by trainers and students is vague and unclear. These are contexts in which the nerve centre is the experience of the training process itself in a specific situation, i.e. a time (the process) and a space (the situation) that acquire meaning at the moment in which they manifest themselves and are experienced (Kolb, 1984). This context is thus influenced by the specific persons learning together at that moment, defining the objectives to achieve based on identified needs. It does not make much sense to speak of an evaluation system that assesses the acquisition of knowledge because evaluation is an integral part of the process itself: it is a shared reflection on what has taken place, on what the relationships, conflicts, vectors of collaboration, the skills solicited based on skills already possessed by some have been. It is a path defined progressively, in progress, with constant attention to the learning experience and reflection on it. Epistemologically, we are on the side of constructivism (Watzlawick, 1988): knowledge is understood as the result of a negotiation, of a co-construction, of a continuous exchange between subject (or rather, subjects) and object. The gaze is mostly retrospective: learners go forward, looking back and reflecting on the steps just taken. There is no finish line. That is why it is complicated to think of a certification system in this training context unless we consider an evaluation that some experts make of practical tests and/or artefacts that highlight the possession of competence.
In the first case, we have a tendentially formal system designed for an individual, based on the product outcome of a process, goal-oriented, with defined time and space, particularly effective for acquiring knowledge and the possible solicitation of skills and competencies that can be easily certified. An easily replicable system, independent of a specific training situation, economical, essentially algorithmic.
In the second case, we have an informal approach designed for a set of individuals, based on the process in itself, practical for the implementation of skills, both specific and transversal, which does not have a defined time frame, which is co-constructed in the course of the course. A non-replicable system, which changes from time to time, not remarkably economical, substantially rhythmic, i.e. dependent on the specific learning rhythm that develops within the particular training situation.
As mentioned, there are many shades between these two models. It is possible to envisage hybrid structures with both approaches in principle. For example, we can alternate between more formal moments (to be carried out independently, to acquire more structured concepts and knowledge) and more informal moments (to be carried out in experiential situations, collaboratively or cooperatively).
The quality of learning does not depend exclusively on the mode chosen by the teacher or planned in the course. That is, there is no way that is far better. It depends on what we want to acquire (knowledge) or exercise (skills and competencies), on our most pressing needs, on the objectives to be achieved, on the time we have available, on the technologies at our disposal, on the cost we intend to pay, on the type of experience we are willing to have (more goal-oriented or pathway-oriented). And also, to some extent, on the underlying worldview.
What training for social entrepreneurship
The methodological framework refers to theories that, in turn, are closely related to ideological premises. From a methodological framework and an idea of education (including evaluation and communication matters), we can also trace a worldview and a vision of the human being, an anthropological ideal. John Dewey had the democratic man in mind, for example, and his educational approach aimed at practical experience (learning by doing) and an active school with project-based teaching practices (Dewey, 1916). He sought to educate in democratic relationships, going beyond the transmissive and highly asymmetrical structure of the ‘teacher who knows/student who does not know’ relationship. In short, certain theoretical premises corresponded to practices consistent with them (Dewey, 1938).
Several consequences follow from this broad introduction when talking about a particular domain of knowledge and competencies. The domain’s specificity can be one element to consider when planning a training course. In the case of social entrepreneurship, the underlying economic and cultural idea is undoubtedly peculiar. We are not dealing, in fact, with a vision of enterprise that has maximum profit and personal gain as its objective, but rather maximum performance to offer services and goods that are useful to the community. An enterprise that considers the context in which it operates, the specific territory with its particular characteristics, and the community of reference. A different idea of economy and relationship, in short. And of work experience.
This ‘maximum profit/maximum output’ dichotomy fits quite well with the one that pits product-oriented learning against process-oriented learning, with all the greyscale in between. There are many questions to consider in this regard. How much are we willing to spend, in terms of money, time and commitment, on a training course? What expectations do we have of the results of this course? What is the worldview that we want to stimulate in social entrepreneurship training? What relations are intended to be established concerning the three significant vertices of the training triangle, trainer-trainee-knowledge? Do these relations correspond to the value and cultural basis of the social economy?
The Coopcamp project (https://www.coopcamp.eu) aimed to improve knowledge of the skills and values related to the cooperative model among students in scientific and technical secondary schools. The concepts addressed ranged from the theoretical/value-based (teamwork, mutuality, community development, democracy) to the practical/technical (entrepreneurship, planning and management). These concepts were also points of reference for the way of working: the students involved had to proceed along the path as a group, discussing internally the choices to be made in the different challenges and activities proposed in a cooperative and democratic logic. The evaluation was conceived as an element of growth and reflection and not as a certification of knowledge acquired or objectives achieved: each activity included a debriefing phase to be carried out together and guided by the teacher. The focus was mainly centred on the process and the learning experience, trying to convey the essential contents of the cooperative model within a narrative framework centred on cooperation and using some gamification elements to approach young people’s sensibility and imagination.
A similar scenario is the background of another project based on the key values of the social economy model: mutuality, democracy, and participation. The project MU.ST.SEE – MUlti-stakeholder cooperation to STrengthen skills development for Social Economy Entrepreneurship (https://www.revesnetwork.eu/project/mu-st-see/) is based on the idea of a training experience that is not predefined as if it were a product to be bought and used, but to be co-constructed during the project. The online environment is primarily designed for trainers in the social economy field who are interested in using a set of learning activities useful for their purposes. It does not offer structured and ready-to-use courses. Still, three narrative frames centred on three areas (Entrepreneurial skills, Sustainability skills, and Soft skills) within which challenges or participation-based learning activities are embedded. Trainers can use these activities to create ad hoc courses designed on the spot according to the specific training situations and particular trainees’ training needs. It is, in short, a modular environment where some semifinished items (the learning activities) can be recomposed or combined with other semifinished elements (other activities not yet in the platform) to obtain a course form adapted to the context. The underlying theoretical approach refers to constructivism and interprets training as a moment of negotiation between subjects with different experiences and bearers of other competencies. The course itself can be co-constructed by trainers and students together, facilitating moments of sharing and participation. Again, assessment is not intended as a certification of knowledge (control logic) but as a formative element (development logic) in which the debriefing and collective reflection phase plays a decisive role.
Of course, these two examples present critical issues, especially concerning the time required and the way of use. The online environment is conceived in both cases as a support to the face-to-face activity, which is mainly concerned with activating learning awareness: learning to learn as well as learning. Learners are stimulated to reflect on their learning and the ways of this learning, called upon to break out of a passive logic that is certainly more comfortable and simpler but also generally less rich. Engaging in such a path is undoubtedly more strenuous because activation is constant, and the process is complex for both learners and trainers. The trainers themselves need to be trained, at least concerning the use of the virtual environment and how to conduct the process.
The aim (and the bet) is to go beyond the consumer paradigm, which equates education with a good or service to be bought and consumed within an education market. Almost 30 years ago, Michael G. Moore (1995) preconised a Virtual System Model as a possible development of distance education: virtual universities and delocalised schools with a minimal formal organisational structure, in which a market of individual education providers meet student-consumers willing to pay a price determined by the laws of the market.
Education on the social economy should reflect on the appropriateness of this scenario and strive for different premises and objectives, which can also be achieved with a different idea of a learning experience.
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Views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EISMEA. Neither the European Union nor EISMEA can be held responsible for them.