Looking Forward ….

I thought I’d left IT behind completely, but exploratory ReLearn interviews I carried earlier this year reminded me how IT has now become a significant component in the lives of many people my age – and a worthwhile focus for work that would combine my ambition to refocus my research in a forward-looking way without throwing away my past experiences.

So, having decided to make a fresh start back at the University of Lincoln (registered for MPhil/PhD this month), it looks like IT will still be part of my research agenda. The research aim (just 50 words, as instructed by my supervisor, and still needing approval by her as appropriately focussed for MPhil/PhD) ….

“In current socio-economic conditions , more post-60s need to “age in place” ; learning to manage challenges and opportunities as they become older ; supported by better-integrated public services, community infrastructure and technology. This research will investigate the contribution of technology to post-60s’ learning for wellbeing in a village community.”

Reading Kerri Facer’s book – and in particular its treatment of integenerational issues – early in 2011 sowed the seeds of the idea for this new direction; which was nourished by exposure to thinking about the retirement & aging challenges inherent in our longer term demographic & economic situation; stimulated by the “learning as becoming” ideas I found in Wenger; and given a real-world context by involvement in patients’ participation prompted by concern about NHS reorganisation proposals.

Please follow my blog on Google+ if this is of interest …..


Cold[ish] Comfort

It’s just a year since I got the unexpected shock I posted about at the time which, in effect, ended my career-long engagement with ILT In FE. I knew at the time there was something very odd about what had happened, though I was careful to avoid any direct criticism in my post.

After raising a formal complaint, and initially having it dismissed, polite but persistent challenging of the way the university had handled my upgrade submission (and then handled my complaint) recently resulted in my receiving a written apology from the Academic Registrar, a declaration that the IoE upgrade decision was null and void, and a full refund of the substantial course fees for the year in which it all happened. In other words, more than I asked for at the time! So, why cold comfort?

In responding to the Academic Registrar’s “If you remain dissatisfied, it remains open to you to proceed to Complaint Review.” invitation I replied:-

“I remain, inevitably, dissatisfied by the waste of 4 years’ work, by the loss of the 3 years’ fees that I didn’t ask you to refund and the many other “costs” incurred – but, most acutely, by the disappointment of not being able to complete my intended research … [but] … I do not wish or intend to take the matter any further – either within IoE or via OIA.”

That’s cold[ish] I’d say. But, with some salutary lessons learned, I can now move on. I had enjoyed my MPhil/PhD work right through till the day it all fell apart a year ago, and learned a lot from it. That’s the comfort.

Bye, Bye ….

I like WordPress, but I like integration even more.
The recent changes in Google and Google+ allow for quite a lot of that!
Plus there’s great leverage of items from my Google Docs cloud.

So, I’m intending to do future posts from my ReLearn Google+ Page.

Please join me there.

Boundary Effects

The Guardian’s article forum that I commented on in my last post has become one of the longest lasting exchanges so far in the online conduct of the recent phase of the Scots’ independence debate.

I’m actually quite astonished by the dangerous polarisation of attitudes that forum trolling seems to encourage. After years and years of studious lurking in such fora I’ve felt impelled to post  again, that’s twice in as many days.

And, as #8 on the Quit Whining Scotsman conversation, I made my hat-trick. But I’m not sure this is good for my health.

Boundaries cause boundary effects and unintended consequences; I wonder if anyone can really see where all this is heading?

Getting On With Life … In The Union

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about life’s surprises as I got the ReLearn Project Outline ready – all in the week that the Scottish independence agenda flashed onto the general public’s radar so unexpectedly. Looking back it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but – for me at least – it did.

I found myself following the often acrimonious debate on the Scots and English press web sites with a kind of morbid fascination – I was so moved by the impending disaster (because that’s how I see it) to write, as irwell2, my first-ever comment on a newspaper Web forum reflecting on what I’d been reading. What a shame.

So What Is Next? ReLearn

In my last post I wrote about my disappointing knockback at the IoE. At the same time I added some sub-text to this site’s name. The text, which you can see underneath the iltinfe banner above, said:-

… and whatever comes next ….

I recently gave up any remaining thoughts that I might return to my IoE-based research, just at the same time as my intention to “… continue to enjoy my research journey, whether following a university route map, or at my own pace and guided by my own inner signposts” was starting to focus on a worthy goal.

This morning, prodded by the symbolism of the new year’s arrival, I started work on the NVivo 9 project I’ve created to accompany a new research theme. This theme meets the criterion of being  “closer to my immediate interests 5 years into my Third Age” very well. I’m setting out to use it as the basis for the serious end of my own learning (along with all the other less-serious learning themes I follow).

My ReLearn research project will be a study of “Retirement Learning” ….

….  my thoughts on the form it will take, and whether I’ll aim to return to formal academic study with it, are embryonic.

Wrong Way

At a certain stage in all/most MPhil/PhD programmes research students go through an upgrade process that, according to the IoE MPhil/PhD student handbook, has the purpose of establishing …

“… whether your research has potential to make a distinct contribution to knowledge in your field (a requirement of a PhD thesis), whether your work shows that you have the potential to complete a successful PhD thesis in the expected timescale, that the research is practicable, and that the arrangements for completion of the research and thesis are satisfactory.”

I submitted my JG_Upgrade_Submission_June_2011 reasonably confident that, along with the constructive discussion anticipated at the July interview with an IoE panel of experts, it would meet the criteria for upgrade. As soon as the submission was in the post to IoE, anticipating being able to proceed into the main fieldwork phase of the research, I started detailed construction of the all-important Survey Monkey questionnaire based on the placeholder theme skeleton presented on Page 36 of the submission.

I saw my submission as satisfying the criteria for upgrade (I still do), but the panel of experts didn’t seem to like anything about it – and they rejected the submission. It may have been right for them to do that, but I don’t think so.

A year’s delay – even if the “last-chance” resubmission option in 6 months managed to satisfy the IoE panel – would, at my stage in the “shelf life” curve (5 years since I worked in FE), make the already challenging plans more difficult to implement. Definitely the wrong way for me to go at this stage. All good things come to an end – my ILT in FE research days are over.

As luck would have it, the first thing I saw yesterday when I finally decided how to respond to the panel’s decision was a link someone published on LinkedIn to How we succeed by failing – reading this reinforced my determination not to give up on research, despite the knock.

The great thing about good things ending is that there often better ones to replace them. The sense of failure that I had following the IoE panel’s rejection has led to valuable re-focussing on what matters most to me. I’ll identify a research theme closer to my immediate interests 5 years into my Third Age, perhaps one prompted by the fascinating future perspectives highlighted in my last post.

I intend to continue to enjoy my research journey, whether following  a university route map, or at my own pace and guided by my own inner signposts.

Right or wrong way?

And A Perceptive Look Forward!

A most interesting item on my reading list right now is Keri Facer’s new book,

Learning Futures: Education, technology and social change

in which she maintains that

“We can rewrite the relationship between education and socio-technical change.” (p.10)

As a grandparent, and having started my FE career as a Lecturer in Environmental Science in 1975, I’m struck by Keri’s attention throughout to intergenerational and sustainability issues as fundamental to understanding where education, and schools, need to go in future. This is the first time I’ve seen ILT issues set so well in that context.

Along with Neil Selwyn’s most recent book,  “Education and Technology : Key Issues and Debates“, this provides an invaluable contemporary look at the socio-technical ecosystem within which all the changes going on in society, and the evolution of ILT use in FE particularly, need to be considered.

More State Of The Actual ….

Just reading Neil Selwyn’s new book “Education and Technology : Key Issues and Debates” published earlier this week.

In the introductory pages he writes

“… despite its prominence, technology use continues to be an area of education that only occasionally receives sustained critical attention and thought – especially from those people who are most involved and affected by it.”
Should be a good read!

Cold Climate

I’ve just been reading Seb Schmoller’s posting about the workshop he ran at the 2nd February LSIS event Embracing Technology for Success Conference 2011. Reading Seb’s posting prompted me to respond:

An interesting list of things to emerge – it would be very interesting to know what (sector and job) profile of group participants produced it. I was recently struck by Neil Selwyn’s 2008 challenge to the research community to focus on the “state-of-the-actual” rather than “state-of-the-art” (Technology, Pedagogy and Education Vol. 17, No. 2, July 2008, 83–87). Distrust of ‘magic bullet’ messages about ILT seems to be flourishing in the cold climate.

I found both Seb’s posting and the LSIS conference itself (with its presentations and prominent presenters as a reflection of the current e-politics of the sector) most interesting as we approach the post-Becta era.