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Project proposal - CPD for Digital and Information Literacies

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Joe Nicholls
16 January 2013

A tentative proposal.

Without having any sense of the number of people who might be interested, it's difficult to know whether it's worthwhile trying to set up a separate team to the one that Art is proposing - ARTiFactor: My Dream: a Digital Literacy MOOC -

However, I'm aware that a number of people have expressed interest in exploring curriculum design for developing staff digital literacies. The specific focus of this project would be to devise a programme of continuing professional development for Professional Services staff (in educational institutions) to develop their information and digital literacies. I believe this target group raises a number of unique issues that may not surface if the focus were solely teaching staff or students.

A teacher/lecturer seeks to meld at least two knowledge and practice domains: discipline/subject and education. Arguably, there are other domains that should be considered such as the administration and management of teaching and learning. Even though teachers may be teaching different subjects, we can assume that they all share  interest in the practice of teaching. Whilst context and pedagogy will vary across discipline/subject areas we can assume that there is considerable common ground in terms of what they do and think as an educator.

In contrast, there is little that unifies all Professional Services staff. They are a highly mixed group of people with widely vary roles and responsibilities. I believe this presents us with particular educational challenges. The only construct at the moment I can identify that would potentially be common to staff in differing roles is task. But that I mean, regardless of job role, most people will participate in meetings, give presentations, write reports, search for data/information, manage data/information, etc. Different forms of practice will emerge from performing these tasks, i.e., what people actually do in their own work situation when influenced by and responding to all the various factors that shape the context in which they're working.

From an educational point-of-view, professional services staff would have to bring a significant amount  of their context with them when they engage in a learning opportunity in order to make it meaningful and authentic. For students and teachers the discipline/subject can be relied upon to provide much of the context needed to structure and motivate learning.

My feeling is that we will have to pay a lot of attention to enabling the learner to recognise significant aspects of the context in which they are working and help them apply it to the learning opportunity. When teaching Professional Services staff, this is precisely what the educator won't have easy prior access to and therefore won't be able to build into the design of learning activities - but maybe I'm wrong?

Of course, in an ideal world it would be possible to take into account and prepare for every learner's  context - but realistically, if we want to develop digital literacies in large numbers of people I don't think that's achievable.

However, I don't yet know enough about curriculum design to know how to approach the creation of a programme of CPD where task - devoid of context - forms the basis for learning activities. If anyone else is interested in joining forces to meet this challenge that would be great.

Anyway, I'm unsure at the moment whether the dissimilarity I feel to Art's MOOC focused project warrants the creation of a separate project team. There may be more to be gained from pooling expertise. However, the guideline we have is to form a group of 3-5 people, so if there's sufficient interest in the particualr context I'm referring to ( perhaps it would be worthwhile setting up a project team separate from Art's.

Over to you...

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Dan McCaffrey
11:30am 17 January 2013

Hi There-

Not sure if you've seen our proposal, but there are certianly synegies; I think it would be instructive to sit within the same "Study Circle" if that was possible.  We're looking into ways in which concepts and theories of Learning Design can be articulated to pracitioners in the FE and Skills sectors by;

1-Providing an "evidence base" for engagement with these issues; Obviously in FE and Skills research is not considered a priority, if at all, so teachers will be largely unfamiliar with present thinking in these areas. We need to demonstrate the value of engagement with these considerations.

2-Whilst there is a wealth of literature derived from HE research, again, lack of familiarity with the concepts means that often these writings appear rather arcane to sectors without historic engagement. We are therefore also looking to re-contextualise LD protocols in languages and formats cognate with the requirements of these sectors.

Certainly we'd be interested in involvig your project with our study circle if you'd be interested...

Cheers, Dan 

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