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Talking about tools – investigating learning at work in police practice

Johan Lundin (School of IT, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden)
Urban Nuldén (School of IT, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 22 May 2007




The purpose of the paper is to show how professional tools trigger workplace learning. The daily mundane work of Swedish police officers has been studied to investigate how the use of police tools triggers learning through discussions in police practice.


Data were collected through a field study consisting of extensive observations and interviews. The interviews mainly took place in the actual practice of the officers. Situated learning and communities of practice served as an analytical lens.


The study revealed how the use of specific police tools resulted in conversations among the officers. Theses conversations are claimed to be vital parts of the community, and thus the learning of the community of police practice. The paper shows how tools make the ways of working, i.e. police practice, available for discussion and collective reflection.


The paper is an in‐depth investigation of a relatively closed sector of society. The paper can inspire researchers to embark on similar studies of other practices. The paper provides novel ways of thinking about how learning takes place in everyday work, not planned and organized by management, but rather as a necessity driven by new tools, and how tools are involved in work.



Lundin, J. and Nuldén, U. (2007), "Talking about tools – investigating learning at work in police practice", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 222-239.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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