Community Based Learning Models

In light of concerns related to labour shortages alongside high levels of unemployment, demographic shifts and literacy/education levels, the Avalon Gateway Labour Market Development Network was formed and initiated a study on the potential for active approaches to labour market development in Avalon Gateway region in 2010 (Lysenko, 2011; Lysenko and Vodden, 2011). The study recommended a community-based learning pilot project be implemented in the region to improve job seeker employability while addressing the training needs of local employers. The Network set out to further explore the learning community concept and how it might be put in place through a literature review.

This project summarizes the results of the review, providing insights about learning communities within the context of rural spaces and rural development. The review outlines several key characteristics of a learning community as well as how the concept links to related terms such as lifelong learning and learning cities, regions and organizations. We then showcase five rural regions where learning communities projects have been implemented and are demonstrating positive results. These case studies include examples from Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and the United Kingdom. Finally, lessons from these five case studies that can help guide the potential development of a learning community pilot project in the Avalon region and/or elsewhere in Newfoundland and Labrador are considered.

Overall, this research shows that community learning can be an appropriate strategy for creating more sustainable rural communities, with positive social, economic and/or environmental impacts. In order to achieve these outcomes, however, learning communities should be designed in such a way that they address the unique needs of the community. Stakeholders from various sectors should be involved in the pilot from its initiation in order to create a strong sense of engagement and ownership. Building on existing networks and partnership and fostering new ones within and between different sectors is another important building block of learning communities. Finally, it is essential that government and institutions recognize the value of learning communities and develop appropriate policies and programs that will support learning communities and facilitate their long-term progress.

Team Members

Vesma Kerezi
Nicole Renaud
Andrea Mitchell
Kelly Vodden, Memorial University

Project Resources

Community Based Learning Models: An Analysis of Literature and Secondary Data (2014). Kerezi, Renaud, Mitchell, and Vodden.