The online tutor group forum has been very quiet this week, which is a shame as I always learn so much from others, especially since many of my fellow students are very much hands on in terms of teaching, mainly at undergraduate/postgraduate level. I find my understanding is really helped by their real life insights, whereas I’m reading the theory and don’t have any direct teaching experience or practice that I can draw upon.
Today I was really pleased to see that Katie had managed to post her thoughts on professional values. As she’s a pharmacist I find her experience really interesting as I have an interest in the health professions and I had drawn on the principles and values of two health professions as comparisons to those for eLearning professions.
Values – morals – principles – standards
Katie also recognised the different approaches from different professions and similar to me she saw values “very much as what a person brings from their own moral, religious or cultural background – a person’s values evolve and change as they absorb the influences that surround them.”
When comparing health professions to eLearning professions she noted the difference in strength of focus between the patient and the student “In medicine and pharmacy the first value is making the patient the first concern. The HEA states that one has to have respect for individual learners but doesn’t really imply that students are the first concern.”
I want to look more closely at the HEA (Higher Education Academy) values, which are actually the framework developed by the HEA and ‘owned’ by the HE sector. Katie noted the lack of mention of ‘honesty and integrity’ that she noted in the other professions, which she feels is vital to the academic profession, as well as taking responsibility for one’s actions which she saw as “core to what makes a professional professional.”
The UK Professional Standards Framework (2011)
for teaching and supporting learning in higher education
The framework recommends six ‘Areas of Activity’, ‘Core Knowledge’ and ‘Professional Values’ to be applied to the learning outcomes and assessment activities of professional development programmes in institutions. Together these form the ‘Dimensions of Practice’ for typical teaching or learning support roles.
- Respect individual learners and diverse learning communities
- Promote participation in higher education and equality of opportunity for learners
- Use evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and continuing professional development
- Acknowledge the wider context in which higher education operates recognising the implications for professional practice
I believe the framework does focus on the student, in addition to the first value of ‘respect’, it is covered under the Areas of Activity with specifics around ‘assessing and giving feedback to learners, developing effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance’. I think their concern for students is more implicit. I would acknowledge that in the HE setting professionals are also required to spend time on the activities mentioned under the framework Core Knowledge which alongside the professionals’ CPD will benefit the student, although not necessarily detailed in such a direct or explicit way as perhaps other professions have done in their values and codes of conduct.
I believe many of the Dimensions of Practice could be drawn upon and applied to a more specific eLearning professional role, especially those that are responsible for the delivery and support of learning and development working directly with learners.
Characteristics of the professional
The HEA recognise and accredit professionals at four levels, based on evidence of their practice in the three framework areas, from Associate Fellow through to Principal Fellow.
Each fellowship has a ‘descriptor’, a set of statements that set out what the professional at each level needs to be able to evidence. These draw from the three areas of the framework i.e. the Dimensions of Practice.
For someone wishing to develop from one Fellowship level to another the Dimensions of Practice are a useful guide to what areas of learning and development to focus on.
For me they also provide examples of characteristics of professional learning for teaching or learning support professionals in HE, which I can compare to those I need to detail for a specified eLearning profession for my next assignment. I need to understand differences between professional and non-professional learning; learning and development applied to professional activity; learning and development of professionals in different fields; formal, non-formal or informal learning.
I also need to relate individual and collective learning, skills, competences and values . . .
Quite a lot to consider 🙂