The European Commission is seeking input on the promotion and validation of non-formal and informal learning. The implications of an EU-policy on this issue would be far-reaching, especially if it were to devise an accreditation initiative or framework evaluating informal learning experiences (e.g., through those gained via open courses such as the ones offered by George Siemens, Alec Couros, Jim Groom, Stephen Downes, David Wiley, & Dave Cormier). A summary of some of the interesting ideas from the consultation call appears below:
We are all constantly learning in our daily lives at work and through our leisure, cultural and social activities. But, all too often, the knowledge, skills and competences we acquire through our work and life experiences remain hidden representing a waste of the talents of EU citizens. Making this learning visible and giving it value is important…The validation of learning gained through work and life experiences has been a cornerstone of EU lifelong learning policy since 1995… Increasing numbers of Member States are introducing validation into their legal and institutional frameworks but across the EU as a whole much more needs to be done to make validation a practical every day reality for all interested citizens…The Commission considers it is very timely to address these issues now as a series of EU initiatives covering qualification and credit systems in general, vocational and higher education and training have been introduced which support a learning outcomes approach…The purpose of this consultation is to collect views on whether further action is needed to make the learning acquired through work and life experience visible and give it value and, if so, what type of action is required and which policy priorities should be focused on to ensure future measures are well-targeted, relevant and respond to real needs on the ground.
The British Journal of Educational Technology will now be asking each author to submit “practitioner notes” with each submission (a screenshot of the information requested appears below):
The purpose of this change is to aid practitioners in applying the reported research to their day-to-day work. Even though this change maintains that there is a researcher-practitioner binary, it nevertheless explicitly asks authors to keep in mind the applicability of their research for day-to-day practice, and that, to me, is a positive development.
The “educational technology” field has had an identity crisis for a while (see Lowenthal and Wilson (2009) for a valuable discussion on this, which includes the following quote from Morgan, 1978, pp. 142): ““some would say that a discipline about whose name there is no certainty is no discipline at all, and educational technology has a variety of other labels—instructional systems development, instructional design, and, occasionally, educational engineering.”)
I’ve been discussing degree program names with my colleague Joan Hughes, and she suggested we look at program names to get a sense of how programs choose to view and define themselves. I thought that this was a great idea, but I also thought that degree program name changes were also valuable to look at. A few minutes of scavenging on the AECT website revealed the following information on degrees and programs/departments:
Florida State: Educational Psychology and Learning Systems (previous name: Instructional Systems)
University of Minnesota: Learning Technologies (previous name: Instructional Systems and Technology)
University of Georgia: Department of Educational psychology and Instructional Technology (IT merged with Ed Psych)
Georgia State University: Learning Technologies (previous name: Instructional Technology)
Purdue University: Learning Design and Technology (renamed: Fall, 2010: previous name: Educational Technology)
Indiana University: Instructional Systems Technology // Learning Sciences
These changes aren’t that surprising given: (a) the increasing emphasis on learning (vs. instruction), (b) overlapping interests between educational psychology and instructional design, and (c) the rise of the learning sciences and learning design fields.
Do you know of any other name changes that may be relevant to this discussion?
Lowenthal, P., & Wilson, B. G. (2009). Labels DO Matter! A Critique of AECT’s Redefinition of the Field. TechTrends, 54(1), 38-46.
The video below comes from a BBC program called the Joy of Stats, and features Hans Rosling. The video, and much of Rosling’s work, as shown on his TED talks, demonstrate the usefulness of data visualization, dynamic data representations, and narrated video in clarifying difficult concepts and making strong arguments. I am posting the video as a way to reflect upon educational research practice. How do new technologies, such as NodeXL, allow us to visualize data and how can we enhance our understanding of learning and participation processes by employing richer data mining/representation techniques? The extent to which we are able to benefit from these technologies, depends partly (a) on the value placed upon “digital scholarship” and (2) on the extent to which researchers actually capitalize on the opportunities available to them to visualize and represent data in different ways. While the print-based culture that permeates educational journal publishing limits our ability to create and publish dynamic representations, the academic world also needs to develop frameworks for evaluating diverse forms of scholarly practice.
Enjoy the video!