I joined the Open University on 11th April 2011 and now live in Milton Keynes during the week a fifteen minute walk from the campus. If I take the car it is a three minute run and door to door in ten minutes. This compares rather nicely to horror commutes in my past: South Coast to Hammersmith, 2 1/2 to 3 hours each way. Drive from Chipping Norton to Bristol, 77 miles, half on Cotswold Country Roads - all weathers.
To say I am now 'immersed' hardly does credit to the term.
The family I am staying with have several PHD students/academics staying in two houses (side by side) and three of the family work here too.(We walk in together)
I'm at the OU Business School (Faculty of Business and School of law).
My role is 'Social Media' - ostensibly for external communications, but embracing to some degree internal communications and education.
Internal communications because the content/ideas and discussions generated internally feed the external content (to some degree) - certainly it informs me about what is going on.
Education because of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) link ... although a student I am embedded in the Deanery in an open plan office so people can ask questions and I can offer a point of view or indicate who, in my humble opinion, on campus might offer a more informed/expert point of view, which might come down to a paper or talk they have recently given.
A background in corporate communications using video, web and live-events brought me first to the MAODE and now to the OU, so there is a close correlation and logic to all of this.
On campus I meet regularly with people from other faculties, though I'm yet to bump into the glitterati of E-learning - a lunch-time lecture from Martin Weller that suggests that the scholarly blog is on its way should be of interest and I'll do what I can to share that here.
There are some extraordinary developments afoot, indeed they are up and running.
I think OU Platform is about to get a blast of publicity as a Social Media Zone for future, current and alumni students to stimulate their intellectual curiosity and create discussions and groups that may last for many years.
As part of a cross-faculty group that meets each week I am linking in face-to-face with those active in developing social media like tools on the OU VLE.
I am also able to tap into latest developments with extraordinary ease, meeting people in 'The Hub' a central refectory on the campus that is very close to the Institute of Educational Technology.
Yesterday was 'Learning at Work Day' at the OU.
Internal and external suppliers presenting their skills to the 4,500 or so on the campus.
I must have spent around 20-30 minutes at each of four or five stands. Of particular interest is the rapidity of desire for VLE content and course materials on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) ... or the more ubiquitous iPhone and iPad.
This journey is a three decades old; I was using technology-enhanced kit as a 17 year old when I sat myself in front of a Sony reel to reel set up used for interviewing technique, looked at the result then made a video on how to produce a slide show.
It staggers me than 30 years on a slide show online is considered to be innovative or even an advance on what was available in the 1970s.
In 1985 Abbey National were sending carousels of slides around branches to inform staff of what was going on; I was part of the company that turned this into video.
Come the late 1990s what happens?
We’re back to slide shows online, better known as the basic website. Far from seeing an advance in communications standards a good deal of the last twenty years has been the equivalent of treading water, efforts to put online what we did person to person, face to face.
The revelation is that with Web 3.0 technology, social networking, online all the time, available to communicate and so learn, to share, whether vicariously, as participant or providing, linking to or creating content all we are achieving is what is done in the real world x10000 … because you don’t have to be there.
It'll not come from one book, or two or many. Having blogged for 11 years and six months I should know some things. I share some ideas here alongside some thoughts from Argenti and Barnes's 2009 book 'Digital Strategies for Powerfurl Corporate Communications' that I have read cover to cover these last few days courtesy of Kindle.
Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications
Blogs and social communities have sparked ‘a complete overhaul of the business environment, especially in the context of communication.’ Agenti and Barnes (2009:K168)
K = Kindle ... they don't give a page number. How could you in a e-Book?
Education is changing too, blurring the lines between school and the workplace, and encouraging workplace learning with distance learning specialists and online courses from members of the Association of Business Schools surely set to grow
The difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0 – observation versus participation, status versus dynamic, monologue versus conversation. Agenti and Barnes (2009)
What is most relevant to corporate communications managers is as relevant to other institutions, whether government, education or charity.
You need to be using:
• Blogs (such as WordPress. Edublogs, Diaryland)
• Microblogs (Twitter)
• Social Networks (such as Facebook, MySpace)
• Video-sharing platforms (YouTube, Vimeo)
• Search engine marketing and optimization
• Corporate web sites/ online newsrooms
• Wikis • Mash-ups • Viral/word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing.
The trick is to find ‘a middle ground between a completely centralised and a wholly decentralised structure is the best way to maintain an effective communications strategy in today’s environment.’ K593
My take on this is that to succeed organisations need to be:
• Real (neither journalistic, corporate or academic in style)
• Passionate but not obsessive
• Media Savvy
• Tooled up
• With a give, take, try anything and receive mentality.
• Tag it all
• Optimise out of habit
• Have fun, be playful with surveys, questionnaires and polls.
The view Sir Martin Sorrell takes is ‘The more control you keep over the message, the less credible it is. And Vice Versa.’ Martin Sorrell (2008: K1520)
There are three skills sets required to take advantage of this:
1. Identifying influential bloggers 2. Building relationships with them 3. Engaging with them with the intent of receiving positive coverage
Points 1 and 2 was the experience I had in Diaryland.
Here from 1999 bloggers teamed up with designers, where the two functions were recognised as different, like the copywriter and art director in advertising. Here you could form groups and join groups, link to friends for a myriad of reasons, but best of, in the list limited to 70 friends you were/are updated constantly on the status – it helps to know that you’re in a group where people update regularly. It is largely from the community of those who write, that you find people who also read and comment, they are various consumers and emitters of content.
So much that I experienced here has migrated to other blogsites.
Things that work, as well as buddies and buddy updates, are the surveys and groups, creating engaging or fund questionnaires to share with others and forming groups too, where for example I set up lists for those to be the first to make 500, then 1000 and then 2000 entries … Fun too are the banner ads you can make and use to promote interest within the Diaryland community. Perhaps Andrew’s (its creator’s0refusal to allow advertising is what is causing a Diaryland demise.
‘Metaphorically speaking, RSS is the gateway drug of experiential online monitoring’. Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1183)
My view is GoogleAlerts does this better, it spread the net for you, whereas with RSS you need to have found the feed first. What is more GoogleAlerts feeds you snacks of information that are easy to consume, note, reference, keep, pass on or over.
In emails the authors interviewed Courtney Barnes and Shabbir Imber Safdar.
‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment. ‘ Thus said (Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1159)
Look, listen and learn ... engage
To do this engagement is the first things, so blogs and Twitter, social networking and video, photographs … even some family history and reuniting with school and college friends. Then you tools like Technorati and Goole Alerts.
Search out appropriate keywords
Joined Linked In too.
Having been engaged with four/five groups I made the mistake of joining and dozen and will have to drop most of these. Some post several times and hour 24/7 and I have ceased to see the worth of reading that much from one group, especially if the same question is being answered a thousand times. Managing this maelstrom is a task in itself, being alert to the new, dropping the redundant, buying into and out of the right people and places as their influence and quality of comment waxes and wanes.
Forrester Research on 90 blogs of Fortune 500 companies. June 2008.
Most company blogs are ‘dull, drab and don’t stimulate discussion’. • 66% rarely get comments • 70% only contain comment on business topics • 56% republish press releases or summarise news that is already public.
Argenti P.A. and Barnes M.C. 2009 ‘Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications’ McGrawHill.
Sorrell. M (2008) ‘Public Relations: The Story behind a Remarkable Renaissance,@ Institute for Public Relations Annual Distinguished Lecture, New York, November 5, 2008.
Meanwhile I've got these two to read.
And why books cover to cover?
I'm sick of snacking from a smorgasbord. I want a consistent voice, something up to date, that leaves an impression. A book does this for me, an article never does.
A year later
‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment.' This said in Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications' Agenti and Barnes (2009:Kindle page 1159).
As I go through 33 months of postgraduate blog posts (the Masters in Open and Distance Education with the Open University), I stumble upon a great deal that some might call aggregation, but a year or so ago was linking and tagging.
In the module 'Innovations in e-learning' we were give a list of aggregating tools to try. Personally, the curator - and potentially their team, as in the real world of museums and galleries must surely add value above and beyond the mere pulling of content using a set of terms in an off-the-shelf bundle of software?
Over the last week or so since the meet up I have returned to various tools and tried new ones. I've gathered screen grabs and given it some thought - and largely concluded that as a result of this exercise I will be dropping them all in favour of reading a few choice blogs and receiving feeds from them - blogs where an opinion is expressed, you can leave a comment and expect feedback. At the heart of this is socially constructed learning.
Forget the needle in a haystack, this is worse.
Taking feed from Google Alerts, Linked In to various groups and vicarious bookmarking relevant blogs and newschannels I now find I am skim reading 100+ topic specif emails a day.
My reaction to this is to work faster, to skim reader quicker to cut, paste or screen grab on a nod anything that I like but need to give more time to ... later.
Though I've never been a comodoities trader that is how I feel, as if all this information is shouting at me for attention. From the hubub something must be percolating upwards, some sense of shifts and movements. I feel like a guy with his ear to the ground listening for the tremors of Web 2.0 as it transmogrifies into Web 3.0.
If you can't handle Web 1.0 don't bother, you're approaching it from the wrong end. Start at the end and once you can keep up glance back at what went before.
And these are the text based conversations
I've had two hefty meetings today already that spun around personality types, behavioural issues, the changing landscape of learning (the complete demise of libraries both the physical kind AND the digital) as everything gets atomised and washed away into the digital ocean.
And how so much of what makes us human is translated into online behaviours but cannot and does not replace the need for social interaction if and where you want to 'make friends and influence people.'
We may do a lot online, we may do everything online, but a face to face meeting will always be more emotional charged and emotional responsive. Which matters. We have to negotiate our way through a life of emotional responses however objective we think we are or need to be.
For the third time in a decade I find my blog persons splitting and multiplying. I don't think I'll be able to handle, even if I lay out a set of hats I can put on and take off I just find that they all start becoming a blur with the danger that these are not silos. One has already converged as e-learning, fiction and reading which makes reasonable bedfellows. Like books on the same wall, though too easily like paper filed in the wrong folder.
We'll see. It will attract some readers, put others off and maybe intrigue my regulars who clearly find something of interest. Indeed I'd suggest that variety has its value however quixotic.
Were I back on the H807 Merry-go-round, I'd love to do the Innovations in E-Learning module over again ... indeed, given the pace of change maybe a three year refresher is required.
I'd have loved some of this:
Which was my third e-book purchase.
I have read it, highlighted it, reviewed it, shared notes via Facebook on it as I went along and will blog about it at length in due course. And Twitter this, and that. And respond to comments.
Most important of all, I am acting on this books advice which means I now have feed from Google Alerts, and Technorati amongst many other suggestions on how someone who feel they have a voice can find like minds.
Is looking at this better than reading the chapter around it?
Best of all is to share it and discuss with those who know better, or want to know better. My opinion is your opinion put through the kitchen-blender.
The podcast H808 e-learning SMEs.
(Makes them sound like a prog rock band of the 1960s. Perhaps they were?)
[V. Long version here. 4,000 words +. 1,000 or under in H808 Tutor Forum.
Edited versions in the next 24 hours/couple of days in EduBlogs at www.mindbursts.edublogs.org]
I may be a professional swimming coach (amongst several things), but my head coach told me ‘I think too much.’ Think less and get the athletes to do more. Keep it simple. If there is any context however where thinking is the currency, literally if we are talking professionalism, then the more I think the more professional I become.
Many would say that a 3,000 word blog entry is 'unprofessional.'
I call it shared reflection, the 'uncut version.' It is the outcome of over five hours thinking on the topic. Hours banked. Ideas turned into cash. By definition when I have made two years worth of regular deposits I may call myself and even be defined as an 'e-learning professional' with the MA to suggest I have joined that club, and a job that for the remuneration I receive makes me a professional rather than a wishful thinking wannabe.
It is unprofessional as a post-graduate student to be flippant and/or verbose.
A professional would keep this down to 500 words, yet I am stretching it to 3,000. The uncut version. Reflection in action. My mind at work. Not the athlete sharing a few ‘mots justes’ after a successful race, but the race itself and all the training before hand. The choice words, bullet point form only with an abridged commentary goes into my Tutor Group Forum. Under 250 words there, is my targert. Under 1,000 words per OU blog had been my thinking too. Blown that then.
Watching the TV I fall asleep.
Listening to the radio (i.e. any audio) I do something else - I’d be distracted anyway, I have to.
In an effort to get into my head the points being made by OUr E-learning Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) I first read the transcripts provided and then listened to the podcast while reading the text.
What shocked me was how much I had missed.
I do less than skim read it appears, all I must do is to look at patterns and shapes. No wonder I learn so little when I do nothing more than read.
This isn’t an 'airport thriller' I can read at break-neck speed chaisng the protagonist as he is in turn chased; this requires a different kind of reading.
It requires effort.
I must work with the text, make notes. Just highlighting choices words and sentences isn’t enough either. Effort I can do. It is consistent effort unless I am working under exam conditions where I struggle. There is always something more interesting to read.
Historically, when successful academically, it has been a huge effort and very time consuming for me. I have to take notes (long hand). Then I have to take notes on the notes. I have to make lists, take quotes and re-order the material. I may still not make sense of it. I need to chase up a few references. I need to find my own patterns. I need to discuss it. Argue about it, agree and disagree. And then, gathering up a wad of papers and scraps of paper the whole lot needs to compost for a few months. Then, and only then, might I start to ‘get it,’ and have something constructive and original to say.
Do any of us have this kind of time anymore? Did we ever?
(My late father, my daughter and a friend, a partner in one of the world's leading law firms, all have/had photographic memories. They would have read the transcript and been able to pick out its salient points after the first swift reading. Not so me, not so us?)
The process you see playing out here is an attempt to mulch the content, slow cook it and hope that I can achieve something in five hours that would normall require five months.
The second time round with the SME podcast I first worked with the text, highlighting points and generally trying to get my head around it. If you’ve come across Jakob Nielsen’s ‘Writing for the Web,’ this is what I did – isolating sentences and ideas, creating headings, sub-headings and bullet points, in a word ‘chunking. In fact, I begin to get close to doing what Richard Northridge recommends in the ‘OU Guide to Studying’ (1990) note taking, creating concept cards and then even looking for links and patterns in the text itself.
This takes time and requires effort. I’m not great on effort. My modus operandi is (or has been) to take in volumes of material, but if this is only at a surface level no wonder I am often more frustrated than informed.
Less is more. Rather than chasing a reference, another report or book, I need, at first, to ensure that the text I have in front of me has been dissected, not consumed, not afforded nothing more than a passing glance, but pulled apart, then reconstructed.
Not the expected outcome of this simple task – my faltering approach to learning laid bare, but a valuable lesson at the start of the module.
At last I’m listening to the podcast.
I made myself think, made myself listen, I 'sat forward' (the technical term for interacting, for engagement.) I made myself read and take notes, made me list the contrasting ideas, the arguments for and against, the justifications ... and to cluster these ideas and adjust my own thoughts accordingly based on my experience.
I had something to think about as I listened.
Do I have anything in common with these e-learning professionals in relation to assumptions and aims?
Do I have different understandings of what it means to be an ‘elearning professional’?
Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
The profession of teacher?
The profession of a university lecturer or academic?
The profession of a trainer or staff developer or a human resources developer in private corporate bodies?
Is there an elearning professional?
And should I be describing my job as that of an elearning professional?
My short reply, given my background in sports coaching, is simple.
If you are paid you are a professional.
If you are the athlete and not paid you are an amateur.
If you’re the coach and not paid you are a volunteer.
Therefore, if someone is good enough and experienced enough (or simply good at selling themselves and their ideas) – and they are remunerated for their efforts, then they are a professional.
Rebecca Addlington is a professional athlete. Bill Furness, her coach, is a professional too.
At my swimming club all the swimmers are amateur, though some through bursaries to pay for County and Regional development training are by definition quasi-professional as they are receiving benefits if not in cash, then in kind. Some of the coaches and I do not define myself as a swimming coach; it’s a hobby that’s got out of hand.
I have ‘put in the hours.’
(Which I can qualify by saying I have put in the appropriate hours. i.e. time will not make you a professional, the enduring focus of your efforts will)
One of the key themes of the podcast made by each of the speakers is that a professional has put in the time.
They have put in the effort, gained experience that is directly or indirectly relevant to their e-learning expertise – and by dint of this expertise (and being paid by the OU, for books and reports, lectures and workshops too perhaps) they are all professionals.
At the swimming club many of us (its the biggest club in the South of England) have earned our places through years of experience, gaining qualifications and attending regular courses (CPD) to retain a licence to teach or coach aquatics. Many of us, paid or not, can call ourselves 'professionals.'
Just as I’ve reduced my core thought to that of the contract between a professional and an amateur, by picking out the ideas of each speaker and doing something similar a number of interesting points regarding what it means to be an ‘e-learning professional’ emerge.
In this see-saw of ideas the protagonists have a habit of changing places.
By defining professional we should also think what it means to be unprofessional.
I’ve allowed this dance to play out as it leaves me with an image of a professional being circled by the professional wannabe, the unprofessional (as yet), the layperson, the naive, virgin student. A mass of non-professionals clamoring around the few.
The points and arguments frequently fall into another diametrically opposed set: the qualitative vs. quantitative, an objective point vs. the subjective, a value judgment vs. the facts. Everything overlaps - a Venn Diagram of the points would show sets within sets.
· Amateur vs. Professional (there are many highly ‘professional’ amateurs)
· Ineffective vs. effective.
· Hasn’t done it for long vs. been doing it for a long time
· Undergraduate vs. PhD (A sub-set of the above)
· Hasn’t put in the hours vs. has put in the hours (more of the same)
· Immature vs. Mature (a variation of the same. Though professionalism is not a consequence of maturity)
· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.(Experience that takes time to acquire, and a certain manner to be effective)
· A new field vs. an established field. (Disagree. Though a new field of subset of a professional activity would be definably professional).
· New vs. Established. (as above)
· No established standards vs. abides by general and specific received standards.
· Acting alone or part of a professional association.
· Part of the UK Higher Education Academy or not. (a subset of the above)
· Part of a legitimate community or not. (as above)
· Committed vs. Uncommitted.
· Respectful vs. Disrespectful.
· Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice. (successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective)
· Juvenile and professional vs. professional only if matured. (as Robin Mason)
· Unlicensed vs. Licensed.
· Genuine vs. not genuine.
· Unrecognised vs. Recognised.
· Inexperienced vs. Experienced.
· Independent vs. tied (to government or a business).(disagree)
· Technical foundation vs. no technical foundation
· No need for a label, e-learning professional vs. professional enhancer. (strongly agree)
· Takes time vs. no time.(as Robin Mason and Robin Goodfellow. You have to put in the time to become a professional. Which I guess applies as much to the professional criminal, as the Professional lawyer. Little p, Big P- see below)
· Part of the mainstream vs. Specialist. (disagree)
· ‘Lone Ranger’ and early stages of innovation ... vs. early majority and established (themes of Rogers)
· Enthusiasts vs. the not interested. (strongly agree)
· Society and the professionalisation of modern life (quotable)
· Sport in the 20th century and professional vs. amateurs in sport
· Traditional and modern professionals
· Autonomous vs. dependent
· Trustworthy vs. (spin/PR/Branding/Agenda)
· Not part of a trade association or governing body vs. part of such an association
· Generalist vs. specialist
· An outside vs. part of something
· Formalised standards vs. none
· Unmonitored vs. monitored
· Is there a distinct elearning profession, or is elearning simply an aspect of other professions?
· Little ‘p’ pr big ‘P.’
Jonathan Vernon (moi)
· Doesn’t look the part vs. looks the part.
· Lacks form vs. has form.
· Self-taught vs. ‘done a course.’
· Qualified (with the piece of paper to prove it) vs. Unqualified (however expert they may be).
Some thoughts on the points identified above
It is worth reflecting on Robin Mason’s point about ‘putting in the hours.’
The suggestion that genius and expertise requires 10,000 hours of effort is no urban myth. A study carried out at the Berlin Music Conservatoire identified three groups of graduates. Asked to estimate how many hours of practice and playing each student had put in since picking up an instrument they were then divided into three distinct categories: up to 4,000 hours, up to 8,000 hours and up to 10,000 hours. The first became teachers, the second category got places in orchestras whilst the tiny number who had put in 10,000 hours (takes around 10 years to do this) were most likely to be the solo artists, the concert pianists, the mavericks, the Vanessa Maes and Mozarts. Whilst all these categories are professionals, they are paid for their skills, the use of the word ‘professional’ to distinguish those who are expert, who have attained a certain standard, would in my view apply to the musicians who have made it into a top orchestra – with the soloists in a category beyond the ‘professional.’ Our ‘OU H808 E-learning SME professionals', given the decades of thought they have put into what we now define as ‘e-learning’, have been part of this ‘orchestra’ of professionals for some time, and who knows, we may have a Mozart amongst them. Personally, I've not read enough from any of them yet to know any better. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they say it.
Interestingly, Robin Mason returns repeatedly to a theme of time passing, of gaining, requiring or acquiring maturity of thought. Though I feel as if I am clutching at ideas in an amorphous cloud here, my sense is that whether it is professional with a big P or a little p, that the word ‘maturity'; might say it all.
What does maturity imply?
Growing up, lessons learnt, age, growth, adult hood, a way of behaving, able to fit in and contribute to a community and so on.
I disagree with Gill Kirkup
If I have understood her correctly regarding her suggesting that only in an established field is something professional whilst in a new field this is not possible. We can all think of (or at least imagine) an unprofessional ‘professional.’ The corrupt lawyer, the doctor struck off the medical register, the TV food expert who is not a doctor at all (and so a sham professional).
In 2000 I would have defined myself, as some of the panel here would have done, as what is now termed an ‘e-learning’ professional. After fifteen years in corporate communications, training and learning, creating linear, then non-linear and ultimately web-based materials the companies and government department for whom I worked through various production companies had to see me as ‘professional.’ I hadn’t done the post-graduate studying, but I’d learnt through observation and experience (first carrying video kit into the changing rooms of a nuclear power plant age 17 assisting with a training film for BNFL at Sellafield).
Interestingly, I don’t currently consider myself to be an e-learning or a learning professional and even with the MA I hope to gain in 2011 I will by my own definition not be a professional until I am being paid for my expertise.
To use a horse-racing term I lack 'form.'
I'm literally out of the race (for now).
Being studious here and building my confidence is part of the plan to regain the 'professional' tag.
Does a barrister on retirement cease to be a professional lawyer?
Socio-econonmically he/she would still be defined as a 'professional' would they not?
I agree however, very much, with Gill Kirkup’s views regarding ‘respect’ and her definition of an e-learning professional within the academic community.
‘Respect for the individual learner, incorporating research and scholarship, the development of learning communities online is a hugely strong component in professional elearning practice.’
(This, for me, successfully combines the subjective and unquantifiable with the quantifiable and objective. i.e. you can be a professional Professional).
I disagree with Robin Goodfellow’s view that a professional must be independent vs. tied (to government or a business). If we look beyond e-learning professionals and academia it would be quite wrong to say that someone is not professional simply because they represent the interests of an organisation or government department, let alone are being paid to take a certain stance or have a strongly held view (left or right wing politically, religious or atheist and so on).
If nothing else, I believe I have shown above that there is a natural dichotomy, if not a debate even an implicit conflict, between views on whether a person, or institution, or field of study, can be defined as professional or not, worthy of study or not.
It is engagement in such a debate where a professional proves their credentials.
A professional is a match for anyone, whilst the unprofessional would not play by the rules, make excuses, bow out...
Dare I imply that all the above are differentiating between the educated and uneducated?
Is it so black and white? Students at school, scholars as Edwardian’s would have defined them, and undergraduates, graduates too, in terms of education can never be defined as ‘professional.’
Or can they?
The government pays students to go to college, to stay on in secondary school after the age of 16 – does not this make them pros, like a boy of a similar age getting paid to play football in an academy, they literally ‘turn pro.’
I agree with Robin Goodfellow that there is ‘need for a label’, that what is currently the e-learning professional may be the ‘professional enhancer ‘of the future if the UK HE Academy has their way (though I doubt the term will stick). Just as Robin was (we were) once web-based learning professionals, or learning professionals, or professionals in education...
Big P, little p (Chris Jones) is the most memorable expression of an idea in relation to the professional Professional that I take from this and a worthy talking point. And 2,500 words in I could sum it up with a Twitter count.
Professional is an adjective and a noun.
Anyone can be described as ‘professional,’ (adjective) by dint of their behaviour and experience, however to be a ‘professional’, (noun), various criteria should be met. Depending on how your measure up, by Chris Jones’s definition, you are either Big or Little P.(I can think of other categories where a similar way of looking at things could be applied, for example, ‘engineer’. The person who fixes my washing machine may call himself an ‘engineer,’ but Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an ‘Engineer’. A sports psychologist is no longer allowed to call themselves such, they are sports scientists. So Psychologist, if not professional, not has a legally binding form of expression and use).
I disagree however with Chris Jone’s view that Professionals (big P you notice) have to be specialists whilst implicitly, if they are professional at all (little p) they are not, or unlikely to be so if they are part of the mainstream.
Or do I?
(I'm changing my mind as I write this, reflecting on a matter tends to do this. You twist yourself in so many knots and then find you are looking in the opposite direction - and happy to do so)
Is there an implicit elitism here that makes me uncomfortable, an obvious them and us?
As a Professional I am not ‘part of the mainstream’ ?
Yes, that’s it.
You see the ‘mainstream’ is the population, everyone, in the universe that we are discussing. Professionals are of the mainstream, of society, even if they are a subset community within the broader community.
The likes of Richard Dawkin and Stephen Hawkings are 'professional Professionals' by their engagement with the world, not because of an elitist, hide-themselves away hermit like attitude to knowledge acquisition. Do Simon Schama and Neil Ferguson fall into the same category of professionalism?
Be published and damned, broadcast and be damned even more?
But you don't have to be famous to be Professional (though I dare say you'd cease to be professional if you became infamous).
Or have I been making a mistake through-out this internal debate ... this reflection – that we have always only been discussing Big P professionalism ONLY as part of ‘the whole thing,’ i.e. the specific category of the ‘e-learning Professional’ and just as this time round I haven’t given a moment’s thought to ‘e-learning’ as a term, I have nonetheless unnecessarily dissected the term ‘professional.’
I’m yet to click through the OED online.
I daren’t. It may be my undoing.
Back to my idea of a Venn Diagram.
If ‘professionals’ is the universe then we have two subsets, Professionals (Big P) and professionals (little p) (the noun only). Far smaller, and intersecting both these sets, we have ‘e-learning.’ There are in e-learning little P and Big P professionals.
Still with me?
But there are also non-professionals, and even the unprofessional to consider. Can they also be defined as Non-professionals (Big N) and Unprofessionals (Big U).
Might a professional be defined as someone with 'qualified confidence in their field?'
Not finished yet
I've got a Venn Diagram to draw, some visualising to do.
Can a loner be a professional?
I enjoyed Chris Jones's point about the ‘Lone Ranger’ that in early stages of innovation there are maverick, loners having a go at something new way ahead of anyone else - think Dr Emmett Brown in 'Back to the Future' tinkering away at the construction of a time-travelling automobile. Are such people professionals or even professional? Does this 'odd-ball' behaviour disenfranchise you from the professional community, even if you have the mind the size of a planet?
A consultant escapes the hospital ward for a couple of years to undertake research. Just because they are beavering away on their own, being a 'Lone Ranger' doesn't disqualify them from the category of 'Professional,' (Big P), or even 'professional Professional' (little p, Big P).
Dare I suggest that our panel of e-learning experts are 'professional e-Professionals' ?
I don't even begin to delve into the thinking behind innovation diffusion. This is an entire module in its own right. It is called 'Innovations in E-learning', or H807 for short.
For more read 'Diffusion of Innovations' E.M.Rogers. (2005) 5th edition.
Nor am I going to teach the definition 'e-learning.'
Is there a professional 'look.'
Forgive me if I make a comparison here between the need for barristers to put on the appropriate garb in court and so look Professional with a big p, compared to those wishing to be called professional and seen as Professional who don't look the part. Poolside as coaches it is expected that all teachers are appropriately dressed in the club colours and well groomed - this looks professional. There was once a time when teachers wore a jacket and tie, so looked professional like fellow professionals such as lawyers and doctors. Don't academic look the part, 'look professional' in their gowns and mortar-boards?
And having addressed 'looks' can someone sound 'professional?
Think how a director chooses actors to play a role. Look at Michael Cane in 'Educating Rita,' is this the stereotypical professional Professor?
Another discussion, but coming from corporate communications we have been through exercises of using authentic presenters (people who work at the place) compared to buying in 'professional' presenters. To do justice to the message in the TV medium the professional broadcasters were far better at putting over the points the client wanted to make.
As I said, another discussion, a different thread.
P.S. It would be unprofessional to post such a long entry into a tutor forum, where a 500 word, even a 250 word version will be posted (the bullet points, or just my thoughts on the key bullet points ... or just where I strongly agree or disagree).
Lesson Learnt ?
Professionals put in the time and effort, and follow rather than ignore guidelines for the community in which they operate.
It strikes me that academics, like creatives, are more interested in reputation and recognition than money.
Is it not striking that not one of our panel mention it?
Can you be a professional without it?
And what about spelling and grammar?
The ability to communicate. Have I mentioned that. Can the professional spell?
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