Monthly Archives: November 2009

Supplementary activity 6.4: Reflecting on the group dimension of professional practice


Can collective work be fairly be presented for individual assessment as evidence of competence. For example, would less technically adept group members be justified in claiming that their own competence had been enhanced by working together on this with others who were more proficient? How could they evidence such a claim?

I think that collaborative elearning activities actually have significant advantages when it comes to identifying the input from individuals for group activities.

Virtually all tools used for collaborative elearning activities have some method of recording who made what contribution.  This includes emails, forum posts, the history or site activity of a collaborative website or wiki, etc.  In order to make a full assessment of an individuals actives it may be necerasary to  view all artefacts and communication involved in an activity.  For example an assessor may look at the history of a website and see that the majority of content was added by one individual,  It may take further investigation to realise that the rest of the group contributed more in research and writing content, which was collated and put onto the website by a single individual.

Is this kind of separation of tasks justified for a group task?  I think it depends on the task, the course and what the individuals are expected to contribute.  If the task outcome of the task was for everyone to get a working knowledge of the technical issues related to creating and editing a website, then the individual who did the technical work may be seen as the only one who has been successful.  If the objective is for all individuals to research and understand the content, then it could be argued that the individual who put their efforts into putting together the website, is the only one who has actually failed the task.

I think there are alot of major drawbacks in doing collaborative tasks through elearning as opposed to face to face.  These include the time the task requires and confusion and tension which can come from a lack of face to face communication.  Despite this I do think that identifying and assessing individual contribution is one area where elearning has the advantage.

The nursing profession

Throughout this course I have had difficulties getting to grips with what is a profession and weather it is important to be classed a profession or not.

Today I read an article about newly qualified nurses being having to get degree level qualifications.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/15/barbara-ellen-nurses-sarah-brown

The article suggests that those who oppose this do not see nurses as professionals “ let them take degrees? Have a real sense of professional pride and career momentum? Perish the thought!”

Although the term “the nursing profession” has been around for some time, maybe there is a feeling that it isn’t a real profession at all.  The article suggests that the air of professionalism that comes with requiring a degree will give nurses power to move away from their domestic drudgeries

Are teachers required to scrub their classrooms before a lesson? Do ministers push vacuum cleaners around after cabinet meetings? Why then are we institutionally opposed to the idea of nurses concentrating on nursing and not wasting their training by becoming jumped up “housewives of the ward”?

This article has given me more understanding about the importance of being in a qualified career, however it doesn’t really help me much with the definition of profession, as I thought nursing was always recognised as a profession.

Core Activity 5.4: The profession of learning technologist

Before I started my reading for this exercise I had always thought of a learning technologist as someone who is primarily involved in the design, management and support of elearning content, including VLEs and other online resources.  This is slightly different to the definition from the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as “people who are actively involved in managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of learning technology.” (http://www.alt.ac.uk/learning_technology.html)  Although the paper by Lisewski and Joyce didn’t realy help me  clarify the definition that much, it did raise some interesting points about professionalism, such as when does a training model, such as the 5 stage plan discussed, which has the aim of ensureing a provisional level of competency, become so rigid that it lacks the ability to include professional flexability.  I was also interested in the quote ‘service provider rather than an expert’ (Oliver, 2002: 20) which suggests there is a hierarchy of jobs with service provider being lower down than a professional expert.

The paper by Oliver suggests that proffesions have evolved in HE when “a group of jobs was identifed that shared a number of common characteristics.”.  Oliver describes learning technologists as “New specialists,  including educational or technical developers,  researchers  and  managers,  who  are likely  to be young (in their 20s or 30s) and on fixed-term contracts, often supported by external funding. They have typically been in their current post less than  two years and at their current institution less than four. New specialists tend  to be multiskilled and peripatetic, but with learning technologies as the core of their professional identity.”  This, to me, raises questions about weather this group should be called a profession.  Have they been in their current position for less than 2 years because their profession is that new? Or are they useing it as a stepping stone into a different profession? Such as management or a more general elearning profession?

Core activity 5.2: Professions and professional values- Some Deffinitions

A profession is a career path which provides a key social service, requires intellectual training, mental expertise, professional expertise and meets a code of conduct which is shared by others within that profession.

Elearning is the use of electronic technology to support the development skills, knowledge and wisdom, or to support  the process of individual or shared reflection to gain understanding.

An elearning professional is someone whose career is related to supporting learners in their use of technology to learn by acquisition of knowledge or through individual or group reflection.

Core activity 5.2: Professions and professional values

For this activity I have looked at The third social revolution (Harold Perkin, 1996), Revenge of the Right Brain (Pink) andCo-opting the creative revolution (Twist, 2005)

 

The Third Social Revolution paints a picture of a modern world being run by a meritocracy of professionals such as the managers of large multinational cooperation’s.  It is worth pointing out that this was published in 1996 and the modern world it portrays is not so modern.  Although I found this paper interesting I did have difficulties following some of the links and assumptions it made.  It seemed to assume that professionals, managers and beurocrats should all be grouped together.  Even if you agree that the majority of managers and beurocrats could be described as professionals, I still find it misleading to suggest that there is a revolution led by professionals.  I did agree with the idea that “knowledge-based services” have “changed human life”.  I found the arguments interesting that although the metocracy of professionals is often based on thoses who have been through higher education, differences in cultures had led to different social classes receiving this education in different countries.

I thought about the suggestion that the decline of countries in the West is due to “the short sighted selfishness of their respective professional elites.”  This does appear to fit with the general consensus that the current economic crisis is down to the short sighted selfishness of those in the banking profession.

An alternative theory, which in some ways builds on from Prekin’s view of the Professional society, is the conceptual age as described by Pink.  In his article he described the previous age as the Information age in which parent told their children “Get good grades, go to college, and pursue a profession that offers a decent standard of living and perhaps a dollop of prestige”.  This information age based on education can be compared to Perkins Proffesional society.  Pink describes the conceptual age as a time when many ‘left brain’ professions based on logical, analytical and sequential skills, are being out sources to countries with a cheaper workforce, such as Radiologists in India reading the CAT scan of a patient in a US hospital.  Other left brain professions such as lawesrs are loosing out to online alternatives such as websites which can produce an uncontested divorce for a fraction of the cost of a divorce lawyer.

 

Pink suggests that those who succeed in this environment are those with creative ‘Right Brain’ Skills in areas such as spiritualty and culture.  Developments in web 2.0 technologies have also led to the suggestion of a creative revolution as technical skills are no longer required to communicate, collaborate and create on-line.  This can be seen in the examples of wikipedia

Core activity 5.1: The elearning world

eLearning focus in different parts of the world.

The eLearning Guild is a community of practice for designers, developers, and managers of e-Learning. It is based in America and a recent conference focused on the following areas;

  • Mobile Learning
  • Social Learning
  • Gaming for learning

http://www.elearningguild.com/content.cfm?selection=doc.1275

The elearning Africa conference in Zambia is focusing on the following solutions and technical innovations;

  • Open Source Solutions
  • Open Content and Open Educational Resources
  • Technical access and networking Models
    • Computing Models
    • Multi User Computing Models
    • Low Cost Connectivity Solutions
    • Mobile Solutions
  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Power and Alternative Energy Solutions

http://www.elearning-africa.com/themes.php

The Australian Learning Technologies Conference 2009 has the theme “the power of you” and topics include;

–          Virtual worlds

–          Mobile learning

–          Wikis

–          Open Learning environments

–          Eportfolios

http://www.learningtechnologies.com.au/index.cfm?action=papers

The second international conference of elearning is to be held in Malaysia and has the theme “Go online, Go Mobile”

http://i-learn.uitm.edu.my/icel2009/

The 2009 JISC Conference in Edinburgh had the theme of Opening Digital Doors.

Topics included

–          Access & Identity

–          Admissions

–          Business & Community Engagement

–          Data Services & Collections

–          Digital Repositories

–          Green ICT

–          Institutional ICT

–          Interoperability

–          Learner Experience

–          Learning & Teaching Practice

–          Learning Environments

–          Learning Resources

–          Legal & Ethical

–          Network & Infrastructure

–          Open Technologies

–          Research & Innovation

–          Web 2.0

Internationally, the key themes seem to be mobile learning, web 2.0/social software and open content.  These are all areas I have looked at thoughout other OU courses, but not, so far, on the H808

Core activity 5.1: eLearning and professional development

For this activity I looked created the following word cloud base on different definitions of the word Professional.  Key words from these definitions include Training, specialised, skill, community, education, knowledge and learned.  I think all of these relate to the elearning profession.

professional

When I first started this course I didn’t think being a professional meant anything more than being paid to do a particular job.  I also didn’t see the point of calling certain jobs a profession.  I thought that the only point defining something as a profession rather than just a job, was to create a false sense of superiority.

Reading some definitions and ideas around professionalism has led to me changing my mind, as I think the benefits of professionalism are about organising a community with shared values.