There is no widely accepted definition of WBL however Boud and Solomon (2001), recognised theorists on the subject, have defined it as "University programmes that bring together universities and work organisations to create new learning opportunities in workplaces." In addition, Gallacher and Reeve (2002) identified four key concepts of WBL as partnership, flexibility, relevance and accreditation. Exploring this further:
Partnership - This is between the three parties; the learner, the organisation and the educational institution.
Flexibility - WBL is more flexible than other methods of attaining qualifications as the learner does not have to give up their income to be able to do a degree. It is flexible in the sense that there is no pre-determined curriculum as the courses can be tailored, and are designed with the learner and each individual organisation in mind.
Relevance - The bespoke curriculum makes the qualification more attainable as the content is familiar and relevant to the learner's everyday challenges in work, they have experience to relate the course to. Ultimately, the knowledge brought from the job supports the learning.
Accreditation - Provides the learner with credit or recognition from an educational institution which can bring credibility to the learner, and in some cases eligibility for advanced career opportunities.
Where did it come from?
In the UK Government's (2004) pre-budget document "Skills In The Global Economy" a review was carried out by Lord Sandy Leitch, Chairman of the National Employment Panel, to meet the 'Productivity Challenge', defined as 'Productivity growth underpins strong economic performance and sustained increases in living standards'.