Vocademia: an exploration and a construction


My Strategy

In this page I attempt to put forward an idea for tackling, however small, the divide that is perceived to exist between academic and vocational pedagogy, whereupon academia is unfairly seen as more worthy and valid, than vocational learning. In the HISTORY and CURRENCY pages we have seen how the new Diplomas have highlighted this inequality, but have so far failed to tackle it, and therefore I propose a strategy for doing so. My strategy is to try to create a Pedagogical Model that dismisses the notion entirely that academic and vocational learning are separate; and instead proposes a fusion model, whereby successful teaching for the future could involve no longer dividing these two areas.

My strategy will take the following steps:-

1) The creation of a word: Vocademic, and the reasons for doing so as opposed to using 'Applied Learning'.
2) A look at, and adoption of 3 theories to help start to give the word actual meaning, and a definition. (IDEAS page)
3) Two delivered pilot lessons, and their findings, which use the Vocademic method developed from the 3 theories, giving it some empirical reality in teaching. (PRACTICE page)
4) Following on from the findings of the pilots, the planning of a Vocademic Scheme of Work, to be taught in September and October, and analysed for a presentation and exhibition on November 24th. (PRACTICE page)


Dismissing Applied Learning

One early observation made of my Vocademic word idea, was to question how is it different to Applied Learning. (Jon Wardle, Bournemouth University, during my MA viva  on 22/7/09) Admittedly on the surface it seems similar, in that it is motivated by something similar to Applied Learning's  seeming wish to bring academic knowledge and vocational skills together. However, I dismissed the Applied Learning nomenclature for several reasons:-

1) Academic and Vocational is still seen as distinct in the Applied Learning model. In the screenshot above it is about applying theory to practice, where vocademic is more about fusing academic and vocational knowledge, trying to see them as happening together.

2) This distinction is made up of a chronological thought process whereby the learner first learns the important, academic stuff then moves onto work related applications afterward.

3) Thus, Applied Learning conceives of a gap between the two, allowing for the hierarchical perspective as outlined in my HISTORY and CURRENCY pages, to remain.

4) Applied Learning definitely suffers from its association with the lesser vocational perspective. For many teaching professionals, Applied Learning is Vocational Learning by another name. Evidence for this comes from informal discussion mostly, but it is none the worse for that.

5) Looking at the definitions of Applied Learning from the screenshots above, which is taken from the government's QCDA website http://www.qcda.gov.uk/13477.aspx it is clear that their interpretation of applied learning is that which is focused purely on the workforce. Going back to the MFL email, and my own experience as a Diploma practitioner,
a) it is very difficult logistically to make the necessary links with industry which these definitions require, most evident when firms such as SkyTV invite students in but only of about a 1/4 of the size of the class!
b) even though I am all for learning that is useful, I'd rather it was centred and prioritised on being useful for the student, as opposed to a potential employer. The model I propose will be more in line with bringing into the classroom a type of learning that would definitely aid a future employer, but more the learner in the first place. Much of this thinking can be read about in my IDEAS page, focusing on Richard Sennet's classroom as workshop idea.

6) Just in terms of language, Vocademic sounds a lot more successful at fusing the academic and the vocational, and therefore, more inline with my stated aim.

7) Vocademic learning might be happening, as the D & T  email suggests, but without an appropriate term, label or handle, it will remain an accident rather than a serious pedagogical aim, design, or mission. In this sense, it is indeed a rebranding exercise (as observed by Mark Readman, Bournemouth University, at my viva again) but it is hoped that by following the other steps in my IDEAS and PRACTICE pages, one that might attain some actual meaning beyond merely a renaming exercise.


Obviously Vocademic is a conflation of the two words Vocational and Academic, and hence a fusion of the two ideas. This linguistic initiation is known as a protologism, as opposed to a neologism. See below for a definition of protologism, but know for me, it is like a pedagogical prototype, and therefore, an attempt to introduce something new into education, then to test whether it has any worth beyond being a word that no one will ever use. This test will have greater success if I can build a structure around it, which is where my IDEAS page comes in, and finally to use it in the real pedagogical world of the classroom, as recorded in my PRACTICE page.

Protologism - definition from wikipedia