Before & After Institutions

How we might develop Education Institution 2.0

Before and After Institutions is a Slideshare which summarises, in general terms, what we have learnt about developing organisational Architectures of Participation; how institutions might become more adaptive to facilitate digitally-driven behaviours. Slides tend to be pointed rather than discursive so this blog post will elaborate on some of the key issues that slides don’t make particularly clear.

Background Nigel Ecclesfield and Fred Garnett started looking at the issue of e-maturity at Becta in 2005 when a key issue of national UK policy concerning e-learning was noticed. It was thought that existing institutions were not e-learning ready and we were tasked to find a solution concerning their overall e-maturity, or e-readiness for e-learning. On a personal note it was working together on this project for over a year that cemented our enduring friendship.

Assumptions Nigel and I each have over 15 years of experience working with e-learning and embedding it within organisations Continue Reading »

9 Key Findings in the Executive Summary

In February 2013 the final report of the public inquiry into the management and poor practices within the Mid-Staffordshire Health Trust was published; consisting of an Executive Summary and three volumes of more than 1000 pages. The reason for the size of this report was the intense public and political interest into the way in which the operations of a public body, the healthcare trust, had failed to promote patient care and had seemed to create a climate where abuse and neglect of patients, particularly the elderly, was commonplace under a management that was more focused on financial performance and the status of the organisation than supporting and sustaining a culture of professional care. The background to the setting up of the inquiry can be found here on WikiPedia  and there is a huge range of commentary and resources which can be found by using the search terms “Francis Report” and “Mid Staffordshire Health Authority Inquiry”. One year on from the publication of the report there is much literature on what has changed as a result of the inquiry and now seems a good time to review the main findings and the recommendations of the committee of inquiry from the perspectives being developed in this blog. After this overview the next post will look at “progress” one year on from the publication of the report and how this exemplifies the issues discussed below.

The key to the Francis report was the disconnect between a managerial focus on finance and organisational status and the public expectation of professional and ethical care for all patients. This latter was overlooked, and sometimes suppressed, in an environment focused on organisational efficiency in order to achieve “Foundation Trust” status. Both the nature of this status and the Mid-Staffordshire Trust’s concern to gain this status are well described in the report, and the key issues clearly elucidated in the Executive Summary.

Francis’ 9 key concerns with the running of the Mid-Staffordshire Health Trust are summarised below. Continue Reading »

Readers of this blog will know that I have discussed an outline of the alternatives to conceptions of “public value” developed by and from the work of Mark Moore in the US and the promotion of this work in the book “Public Value: theory and practice” edited by Moore and Benington (2011). My key criticism of this approach remains that the “public value” defined by Moore and others is not “public” in the sense that publics are engaged in deliberating and defining public values and that there is an underlying acceptance that those engaged in government and public services as senior managers are best placed to form and articulate these debates and, ultimately, determine what “value” is placed on public services. Another strand of this argument could be characterised as “you can have too much democracy!” where political thinkers are putting forward ideas that support restrictions on democratic processes and criticising their application in given circumstances e.g. Berggruen and Gardels (2012), who argue that intelligent governance should replace liberal democracy as it faces crises in terms of funding and legitimacy. Similar perspectives are put forward in Michael Lewis’s “Boomerang: travels in the new third world” (2011)

As I have noted before, this approach is driven by ideas from neo-conservative economic theories and their focus on markets and financial values and “market forces”. This influence is carefully explored in Ben Fine’s work in critiquing the term “social capital” and his key arguments apply here. Continue Reading »

Enabling Digital Practice

Submission to the CAVTL call for Evidence

Background; This blog post publishes the submission that Nigel Ecclesfield, Geoff Rebbeck, Rod Paley and Fred Garnett prepared for the call for evidence issued by CAVTL concerning best practice in Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning. We have variously worked with the sector for around 20 years, with a focus for the past 12 years on implementing new technologies for learning in a manner we now prefer to call ‘enabling digital practice‘. As well as our shared working experiences the substantive part of our submission comes from the Digital Practitioner research work detailed in the last blog post and captured in the slides I Am Curious, Digital. Rod Paley from Xtensis has used xtlearn.net to curate our evidence on that platform on the CAVTL page.

Key Points; The commission asks what evidence is there from the sector on best practice and how it might be developed to improve Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning in the future. We have concluded with five key points;

  1. Authentic learning; looking how learning can be contextualised and personalised so that it best represents employer’s real world requirements whilst also reflecting individual learner needs.
  2. Enabling Digital Practice; identifying how the emerging exemplary practice of practitioners ‘artfully-constructing student-centred learning experiences’ can best be recognised and supported.
  3. The professional use of ‘social’ technology; supporting the application of new social technology, that originate in personal, social uses, in pedagogically purposeful ways, both for learning and for new forms of professional development
  4. Flexible and adaptable providers; identifying the organisational and support needs of practitioners in order to help deliver improved teaching and learning
  5. “Dealing with the future in the present”; reviewing what is required to support the ongoing engagement with socio-economic change that providers and practitioners need in the emerging world of “perpetual beta”

Our research surfaced the first three points, however it also identified

Continue Reading »

When Digital Natives Go to College

Background; This blog post is to complement the slides Digital Practitioner 2011 on slideshare. The topic of the Digital Practitioner emerged from an LSIS survey into FE College staff capabilities during the summer of 2011. It was derived from the work of Geoff Rebbeck at Thanet College who had developed original ways of surveying staff capability and built upon by Nigel Ecclesfield, with support from Fred Garnett, who redesigned the survey in a number of ways. Geoff evolved the approach of moving beyond a quantitative survey of practitioner use of technology for learning to one based upon attitudes and feelings towards the use of technology in action. Nigel developed the survey instrument on SurveyMonkey so that it both captured practitioner attitudes and provided an opportunity for additional free-text responses. Continue Reading »

Theory, Practice & Mobile Social Media #ece11

Background; This blog post is related to a workshop at the Education for a Changing Environment Conference at Salford University to be held at 11.30am on Friday July 8th 2011, using this presentation. The purpose of the workshop is to look at how we might embed the practices of technology stewardship within and across institutions in such a way that attendees have practical take-home messages for their institutions. You can join in using the Salford meet online link (now finished)

Theory, Practice & eTeams; The starting point for the workshop is the three-fold approach highlighted in the sub-title, Theory, Practice and mobile Social Media.

Firstly the theory is based on Nigel Ecclesfield and my writings on Architectures of Participation on this blog, which seek to identify appropriate institutional behaviours in networked post Web 2.0 worlds.

Secondly, the practice of Paul Lowe as a solitary Technology Steward at the University of the Arts proselytizing the practices of his successful M.A. in Photo-journalism.

Thirdly, Thomas Cochrane’s long-term strategic approach to embedding the use of mobile social media at Unitec, NZ by developing the idea of a technology steward representing a set of responsibilities embedded within communities of practice, eTeams, rather than being a separate identifiable role.

What is a Technology Steward? Etienne Wenger describes a Technology Steward as being the person who is capable at walking at 45 degrees between the institutional hierachies within which we work, and the flat-world affordances of networked technologies, particularly mobile technologies, what Mike Sharples calls bringing the informal into the formal. We might also see this as reflecting a similar tension between learning processes and institutional demands for assessment and administration. The Technology Steward is the person who can broker positive learning outcomes between networks and hierarchies. “Being a technology steward has very little to do with being an expert technology user, instead it’s much more about understanding the connections and interactions of human networks”

1. Heutagogy and institutional technology stewardship; this workshop is, in part, developed  from an earlier presentation given at CAL11 and outlined in the earlier Technology Steward post on this blog. Continue Reading »

Valuing alternate views

If I’m setting out an alternative to the visions on public value I’ve already discussed, then I need to show how this deals with the outlines of measurement stated in “Public Value: Theory and Practice” (PVT&P), which I assume, is approved by the editors Mark Moore and John Benington. The authors of the section discussed below are Louise Horner and Will Hutton of the “Work Foundation” whose paper is entitled “Public Value, Deliberative Democracy and the role of public managers” (PVT&P pp 112-126) and it is not surprising that these views seem to have informed the recommendations made by Hutton in relation to the pay of senior staff in the UK public sector, which advised that there should be no cap on these salaries, but that the level of these salaries should be public along with a reporting of the range of salaries in the organisations employing these staff. Let’s examine the measurement  of Public Value. Continue Reading »


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