On the second day of our residential school for the EdD (see my earlier posting), I had the opportunity to outline my initial thoughts about the topic I plan to investigate in the EdD. The first opportunity was during a class on quantitative research methods. The lecturer asked for some examples from the class – what were we thinking of doing, and then he went on to give examples of how a study framed by quantitative research methods might look. While the discussion was interesting, I realised that I need to be far more specific about the focus – which for me really needs to be about informal learning or unintentional learning and the creating of personal learning environments. Examples initially given in class were about me setting up for an example and online course, and then looking at the learning etc that occurs and other good ideas. However, the more the discussion headed down this track the more I realised that this isn’t what I want to look at (I did something like that in 1997/8 when I collected data for my masters thesis!).So.. at the end of the day, I sat with one of the staff of the programme and talked through again my ideas and this time I made sure I provided more of the background to my thinking and therefore where I might head. This person was able to understand what I was about which was a relief to me! So here it goes again – I’d be keen to see what others who stop to read this post think….. any feedback, resources or links gratefully welcomed!

My thoughts are…

we know that learning has occured when we see a change in behaviour

We continue to learn as we practice on a daily basis – some of this learning is formal, some informal, and some incidental or unintentional learning.

With increasing requirements learning has become more externally prescribed – ie HPCAA, performance appraisals and even audits against standards. The practitioner has less and less experience in defining learning needs, and determining how these needs can be met as learning becomes much more about the individual’s fitness to practice.

With external drivers such as I’ve outlined, formal learning becomes the focus for the practitioner, as with formal learning comes evidence of achievement. The practitioner has less experience in managing their learning, and in effect pays less and less attention to how it is they learn.

My thesis is that if we don’t pay attention to the ways in which we learn, we are less likely to be alert to or see alternatives for learning. We start to take what is offered even when it doesn’t fully meet our needs.

Other areas of movement – in some way linked…. a shift to lifelong learning, with an emphasis on being self-directed.

To engage in lifelong learning, we need to know what provides effective learning experiences for us, and we need to know what is possible for us.

So I’m interested in the intersections between professional development (specifically the informal, or unintentional learning that occurs), what tools are available to support this type of learning, and what this means for our profession (which is predominantly female, older, kinesthetic in learning style and probably other factors as well).

What I would like to do is work with a group of therapists (can be quite small) who are keen to look at learning how to manage their learning, keen to explore a range of tools that may support that process, and interested in describing for me how this type of learning compares with previous learning experiences. The group could be a group of academics, or could be a group of students, or a group of therapists who have the support of their senior manager to do this at work. Another group that would be great to work with would be a group similar to that proposed by Kielhofner and Forsyth (see for example this link)

This researchers are searching for mechanisms to close the theory-practice divide coining the phrase scholarship of practice… Working together therapists and academics created a community of practice. I wonder whether Web 2.0 tools could support the ongoing work of these communities of practice.

so if you’ve stayed with me until the end of this, please do get in contact with me – it doesn’t matter if you are in the northern hemisphere, as I will be on sabbatical next year and able to come to the other side of the world if need be!

Look forward to comments, thoughts, pointers etc.