Educational Professionalism: A 21st century competency #WILTW

This is 185th #WILTW

The landscape of information exchange is radically different now than it was 20 years ago. There has been a huge shift in access to knowledge, and how that knowledge can be transferred to you. Technology has been at the core of this, namely the ability to make vast amounts of data portable. While the fundamental educational principles of active learning and feedback are no different now than there were before the digital revolution; the scope of opportunity is immense.

The advent of Social Media has been a disruptive influence in education, although it is possible that this has more to do with the underpinning technology than the platforms themselves. Would Twitter be as popular if it wasn’t possible to carry a micro-computer in your pocket? Networks, propagated through social media environments, have transformed (or re-invigorated) educational opportunities for the adult learner (and from what I see of how my children are taught at school not just adults either).

This changing nature of interaction is not without risk. While the negatives of social media are obvious from political and cultural perspectives there are potential pitfalls and perils to the way we learn, or perhaps more precisely, think we are learning. Information is now at your fingertips, you can choose content that is relevant to you, presented in a format you determine. Whether it be blog posts heavily infused with infographics, or a podcast on the way to work, educational consumers have more choice than they have ever had.

The echo-chamber effect may have consequence here. I am firmly opposed to the notion that individuals can’t make appropriate decisions about the quality of information presented to them. Concerns about ‘celebrity status‘ in the network of emergency and critical care clinicians who utilise #FOAMed (Free Open Access Medical Education) have little tangible evidence behind them. However it is possible that unintentional selective browsing may take place as learners are drawn to a particular style or type of resource. While there was this risk at other times in history the huge breadth of information may lead to greater imbalances, potentially leading to a presumption that you are more informed than you actually are. Protecting against this are the communities of practice, and more specifically personal learning networks, which should highlight the range of opinions, evidence and developments around a particular topic. This return to a participatory nature of education [1] should balance the potential biases in selective consumption of resources.

Ultimately we are now in an era where self-directed learning requires you to not just not know how to learn but to understand the landscape of your educational environment. A set of skills in how to interact, develop networks, understand the importance of reciprocity in engagement and respect the multitude of ways of learning are needed to navigate this new world.

The guiding principles behind this need development but may include being able to recognise the soft and hard signs of quality in digital educational materials, knowing how to development personal learning networks and using work flow strategies to manage knowledge volume (i.e. whether you are drinking from or playing with the fire hydrant [2])


It is likely educational professionalism may be required of us all.

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

You can now follow WILTW on Facebook by liking this page . Browse previous posts here or insert your e-mail address in the box on the right hand side to receive future posts

[1] Thanks to Chris Walsh for highlighting this paper

[2] Credit to Chris Connolly for this twist on the meme




Leave a Reply