For this assignment we have been asked to get a sense of the diversity of those involved in the profession of elearning by looking at job opportunities in the field via jobs.ac.uk and conference announcements on ALT-C.
At the time of writing (16th Jan 2012) there were 11 jobs with the keyword ‘e-learning’ and four with the keyword ‘elearning’ on jobs.ac.uk. Here’s a screen capture.
Though some jobs appear under both keywords, there seems to be a slight tendency for salaries on the right hand column to be a little higher, even though the nature of the appointments is similar (at the officer/manager level). Most of these jobs seem to reflect a supporting role for the educational technologist, though this doesn’t equate to a lack of seniority or executive power judging by the salaries and the various descriptions of duties. At the same time, there are some roles here where elearning is mentioned as an afterthought or as lip-service to current trends in higher education. For instance, the Assistant/Associate Professor in European History at Qatar University is expected to be competent with elearning methods but it’s not clear how this is integrated with other aspects of the job or what kind of measures the university intends to use. This gives the impression that the person writing the job specification may not themselves have a good understanding of elearning.
Moving on to the conference notices at ALT-C… there are currently four conferences being promoted here. They are as follows:
The first two are online webinars run using Blackboard virtual learning environments and intended for assessors and candidates for the CMALT professional membership scheme for elearning practitioners. Looking over the list of CMALT members at http://www.alt.ac.uk/sites/default/files/public/Cmalt%20holders%20list_20111121.pdf I noted that none of my OU colleagues seemed to be members (which is a bit surprising given the fact that CMALT is mentioned in H808).
The third event is a webinar featuring two eminent learning technologists, Diana Laurillard and Stephen Downes. There isn’t much in the way of detail about the content of the webinar – only the question ‘to what extent should learning design be supported computationally?’. Most of the page is just biographical information which suggests that they’re relying on reputation alone to sell the event.
The final event is a conference which takes place in Manchester next September. There aren’t many details here and you have to go to http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2012 instead. The motivating questions for this conference seem to be very general and focused on the core activities of learning technologists rather than anything particularly topical. I suppose this lends weight to the idea that the activities of learning technologists can be highly diverse.
CMALT stands for Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology . “CMALT is a portfolio-based professional accreditation scheme developed by ALT to enable people whose work involves learning technology to:
- have their experience and capabilities certified by peers;
- demonstrate that they are taking a committed and serious approach to their professional development.”
The CMALT prospectus mentions the following values in relation to professional accreditation.
- Commitment to ongoing professional development
- Gaining and providing recognition of skills, feedback
- Critical reflection on practice
- Keeping up to date with new technology
- Willingness to learn from colleagues and those with different backgrounds
- Effective communication and dissemination
- Awareness of wider context
- Understanding accessibility and assistive technologies
- Acknowledging copyright
- Ongoing evaluation and validation of professional skills
Possibly relevant but not mentioned:
- Effectively meeting obligations to students
- Staying focused on delivering results
- Awareness of institutional ethics
Like a lot of ethical guidance, most of these are formal in nature. Let’s think about how they compare with education ethics more generally conceived. The Association of American Educators presents a number of principles and maxims in their code of ethics. I don’t have the space to discuss them all here, but here are some highlights.
|PRINCIPLE I: Ethical Conduct toward Students
||It probably goes without saying that the first part of being ethical is to be ethically aware. But in this case it includes the idea that educators should endeavour to “present facts without distortion, bias, or personal prejudice”. We don’t find this in the CMALT code, perhaps because learning technologists rarely teach themselves.
|PRINCIPLE II: Ethical Conduct toward Practices and Performance
||This is mostly about demonstrating competence and being committed to professional development. It also includes the idea that teachers shouldn’t embezzle money or otherwise abuse their position.
|PRINCIPLE III: Ethical Conduct toward Professional Colleagues
||This covers confidentiality and truthfulness without acknowledging the tension between the two!
|PRINCIPLE IV: Ethical Conduct toward Parents and Community
||Professional educators should work co-operatively, being active in school communities and respecting the values of those within them.
Overall this gives the impression that educators have a quite different set of responsibilities to learning technologists and, accordingly, a distinct set of ethical codes and principles. There is more of a sense of duty of care and precaution in the educational ethics, while the CMALT values are more to do with innovation, future facing, and ongoing professional change.
An interesting conversation between David Roberts (Grist), Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Beast), and Matthew Yglesias (Slate). Organized and chaired by Andrew Light (Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy)