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H808 – Professional learning

December 10, 2010

Let’s try to get some structure in my thoughts. Normally it helps me to write something in my blog. so let’s see if the trick works this time, I badly need a vital spark for my TMA.

What do I understand by professional learning?

Put it simply, a professional who continues one’s study. So do we talk about CDP (continuing professional development)? But, is there any difference between learning and development? Well, according to Microsoft Word these are the synonyms for

  • learning: Knowledge, education, scholarship, culture, wisdom
  • development: Growth, expansion, advance, increase, maturity, enlargement, improvement.

I would therefore conclude that because you learn you develop and get better. It is kind of a positive relationship, as more knowledge, education or wisdom as more growth and improvement of e.g. skills , thus professionals advance. Put together I would say we are talking from lifelong learning.

Does that make sense? Well, I don’t know, I simply have the feeling that I talk, respectively write rubbish. Maybe this will be the first time I have problems to reach the word limit :-S  Ok, let’s continue  with my brainwriting.

Becky Warrior’s article ‘Reflections on an Educational Professional’ provides some interesting features. First, the brings in the phrases professional identity and status, professional practice, professional development, professionalism and professionalisation. Pretty confusing. Unfortunately she does not refer to professional learning, but she states that ‘professional identity can be defined as the perception of oneself as a professional and it is closely related to the knowledge and skills one has, …’ (Buncher and Stelling), thus professional identity is defined by professional learning or vice versa professional learning leads to professional identity.

A frequent use of the term professional here right now 😉

That is pretty interesting, too. According to Hoyle (1985 cited in Warrior) is’ professional development the process whereby practitioners improve their competencies. In this respect, re-skilling or learning and incorporating new modes of teaching are important features.’ Warrior states that the government’s Lifelong Learning agenda is a holistic way of viewing professional development. Again a link between learning and development, it seems they belong together. No development without learning, and each learning leads to an expansion. Talking about expansion, not sure if expansive learning from Engestroem (2001), applies here. Engestroem argues that Questioning and exploration helps to distance from a given context, to challenge the sensed and meaning of this context and to construct a wider alternative context with new meaning leads to successful expansion. I think that applies as well for a professional learing. A professional should think out of the box.

Warrior also claims that staff appraisal is another method of professional development. I guess that is comparable with the annual review on of my H808 colleagues talked about lately, that she is having with her manager to discuss what she has done during the year, what new challenges she’d like to take on, and whether there are any courses that would help to improve her teaching.

I also found in the Learning and Skills Network (2007) something about professional learning and development.

The framework for personal and professional learning is based on the model of the reflective practitioner. Looks good, but I don’t know where the learning comes in. Certainly, you can learn from reflection and out of experience, which will might feed into better professional values and practice and will also enrich the knowledge, but that sounds pretty far-fetched.

Well, so far so good, although I am still pretty clueless about the difference between learning and/or development of professionals in different fields. Questions over questions, and so fewer answers.

Not to talk about any differences in professional and non-professional learning, are we talking about formal and informal learning? Learning driven out of one’s own accord, contrary to the need to stay on top of developments to sustain the professional status. Well, I am not sure, but another colleague just reminded me on the professional learner and the definition given in unit 7. I found the term pretty funny when I came around the first time, but I guess I could consider myself as a professional learner, studying now with the OU. According to the course material is a professional learner a young professional, a new entrant to a profession who gradually internalises a code of ethics and a sense of how to behave professionally as they master the technical knowledge and skills associated with their specialty and develop into a rounded professional.  A ‘professional learner’ ‘is shorthand for someone who shows their commitment to being professional in all aspects of what they do (including acquiring knowledge and skills associated with their profession) at every stage in becoming – and remaining – competent and ethical enough to be termed a professional’.

Hey, now I am warming up 😉 and it really seems writing the blog does its trick. The magic of blogging 🙂

Talking about learning reminds me on Activity 7.2 where we had to consider Clegg’s and Dealtry’s tables and evaluate our learning, our professional learning. Ok, another issue to consider in my upcoming essay.

So far so good, now I ‘only’ have to put this into a more formal academic writing style, consider how that applies to my own elearning context, and I need to answer the second part of the question, talking about professional characteristics and about recognition and accreditation of professional learning. But according to the word count here I already reached almost 1000 words and given that the second part work also well, I would have almost reached 2000 words, 150 each for the intro and the conclusion would bring me up to 2300, leaving 200 words to go. I know, I know I am fantasising, knowing my problems that I experience when it comes to formal writing, compared to my far more informal writing in my blog, but it is a nice fantasy 😉

Thanks for your patience to all who made their way through my pretty unstructured ideas, but isn’t that the rationale behind reflective writing bringing sense into unstructured ideas. At least the idea behind professional learning is now a little bit more tangible to me.

Resource:

Learning and Skills Network (2007) A Professional Development Framework for E-learning, Learning and Skills Network. Available from: http://www.learningtechnologies.ac.uk/files/0627161Framework.pdf (accessed 6 August 2010).

Warrior, B. (2002) ‘Reflections of an educational professional’ (online), Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education, vol. 1, no. 2. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/hlst/documents/johlste/0030_warrior_vol1no2.pdf (accessed 6 August 2010).

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One Comment
  1. success for you

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