Reflection in action: professional development study visits

How close to the moment can you get? “Be here now,”  urges 1960s psychologist Richard Alpert. A mythical Google aspires to a perfect concurrent rendering of this reality: in real-time, in software. How much rewinding can we do before anyone notices the pause for thought? Reflection in action often has the effect of: “Oops! Don’t do that again.” Have we all heard ourselves tell ourselves, “Don’t say that,” and then hear ourselves say it? The warning reverberates like a slow bell buoy. It fades until the next wave makes a ding! Good learning is sometimes referred to as “authentic”. What is this but being “in the moment”?

I have been invited to “Listen to and comment on” a number of presentations this morning. These presentations will be made by participants on a study tour for Chinese academics and higher education professional and student-support services staff.

I received the invitation yesterday morning in a hotel dining room in Cardiff, shortly before co-facilitating a workshop for newer academic staff at the University of Cardiff, who may be new to teaching and leading study modules.

So this is a note to myself, in the moment between. My colleagues at OCSLD and I use a phenomenographic approach to analysing learning events and the work of those who lead, teach or otherwise facilitate learning in higher education. Try to distinguish between event and judgement. There is data. And, there is analysis.

I have engaged with four one or two-day events organised by Oxford Prospects Programmes. Two events were for about 50 “senior academics” (n=100) from a number of Chinese Universities. One event was for about 45 professional and student-support services staff. One event was a symposium on “Education and Social Governance” jointly organised by Beijing Normal University and the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. At the symposium, academics from both institutions, eminent local government officers and representatives of the British Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese Embassy in London addressed contemporary socio-economic impacts of higher education and the role of education in social governance issues such as rural depopulation, industrial development and teacher education.

I am seeing these events all through a professional development eye as an authentic opportunity to consider where a globalising academy sees itself going next.

A journey of a thousand miles problem @jockox3 the limits of my anarchism #ukuncut

I accept a loose notion of the social contract and accept that there are limits on my behaviour imposed on me for the benefits of all – including the payment of levies (taxes) for the provision of services to us all, even if I might prefer those services to be delivered in a different way. I further accept a loose notion of representative democracy as a means of determining and regulating (i.e. governing) those services and levies.However, the notion or idea of the “state” is a problem.

Continue reading “A journey of a thousand miles problem @jockox3 the limits of my anarchism #ukuncut”

For-profit higher education – follow the monopoly money

BPP University College (http://www.bppuc.com/) has enrolled 5000 people in the UK this year. Western International University (http://www.west.edu/) is a leading for-profit in the US expanding into Europe, Asia, and South America. Both are owned by the same parent company, Apollo Global (http://bit.ly/cp0mbI). Apollo Global is also the parent of the University of Phoenix (http://www.phoenix.edu/). Apollo is, in turn substantially owned by the Carlyle Group (http://www.carlyle.com/media%20room/news%20archive/2007/item9855.html). Carlyle also owns the Wall Street Institute (http://www.wallstreetinstitute.com/), “…the premier source for English [language] instruction for individuals and corporate clients around the world.” Carlyle is a very large venture capital group, with a particular focus for it’s investments. Carlyle’s mission is to increase private participation in the delivery of public sector services: healthcare, education and the military. Carlyle works at a high political level. Their Board has included many leading (former) government figures (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlyle_Group#Political_figures). BPP’s curriculum is focused on Accountancy and Law. WIU’s curriculum is focused on management, finance and organisational psychology. Phoenix’s curriculum is focused on administration, teacher training and nurse training. I wonder what the covert curriculum is in all this?