Monday, January 12, 2004

Melbourne's 'cool' summer...

So far my summer hasn't felt much like a summer [and before any Melburnians jump down my throat, yes, the Xmas weather was spectacular! :o) ] - I am still acclimatising to the lower latitudinal, more temperate climes of the east coast, having spent a good deal of my young adult life in Perth and then more recently Geraldton! It's so distinctly different - even the air is different! There must be a more apt meteorological explanation than my poor efforts here, but it does make a difference to one's demeanor I feel. So, what does it mean to feel displaced? Misplaced? Dislocated perhaps? When will I get around to relating this back to educational design and flexible learning you might ask?... About now!

Households, Work and Flexibility is an EU project which looks at how changing forms of flexibility affect work and family life. What intrigues me about this project is the notion of flexibility, something I want to research further in relation to educational technologies. The 2000 - 2003 project report series is available from the website in PDF. The project's use of the term flexibility is simplified in my view, but they offer further terms of reference with which to later discuss the notion of flexibility.

Interestingly, if you type the phrase "flexibility of space" into your search engine [I prefer Google], the EU project site is the second one on the list!

What are your thoughts on the notion of flexibility?
Are we sometimes careless in the use of such terms? Do semantics really matter? How does flexibility apply to the discussions surrounding educational technologies and good pedagogical practice? Before I get carried away with mind-boggling theory, I'll say...

...Ciao until the next!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

...and so on to 2004!

Again, the circles turn into another fast! More change, more push to streamline and realign. For what? With what? By whom? Organisational change in my rather cynical view, is about costing out time and resources to sit and think about better, more "innovative" ideas than the person or persons before us. A lot of change is simply for the sake of change! Hmmm, any challenges there? The race to lead change with innovations is on!


Syn: To alter; vary; deviate; substitute; innovate; diversify; shift; veer; turn.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.


\In"no*va*tive\, a. Characterized by, or introducing, innovations. --Fitzed. Hall.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.


adj 1: ahead of the times; "the advanced teaching methods"; "had advanced views on the subject"; "a forward-looking corporation"; "is British industry innovative enough?" [syn: advanced, forward-looking, modern] 2: being or producing something like nothing done or experienced or created before; "stylistically innovative works"; "innovative members of the artistic community"; "a mind so innovational, so original" [syn: innovational]

Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

Question: Innovative at what?
The question was brought to my attention at the 2003 presentations of Flexible Learning Leaders in Victoria.

The push to be innovative in an atmosphere of constant change echoes a need to keep people 'on the ball', to keep motivation levels high, in order to sustain efforts of change. To be innovative is to keep rolling out new and exciting ideas, brainstorm suggestions of better practices and more successful outcomes - and creating those outcomes along the way! Just as we tender for project funds, we also tender for a slice of the innovations cake, hoping our ideas and sughgestions will be selected from the many put forward to "those in a position of power and influence". If we jump through those flaming bureaucratic hoops with enthusiasm and effort we might just get what we deserve!

Where should I go with all this? My role as an educational designer in my institution is one which puts me and my colleagues in a position of supporting academics essentially through a process of change which incorporates their experiences of a changing workplace and a changing educational environment. Educational Designers are not new to education settings, but their role has increasingly become one involving necessary well-developed skills of change management.

Change management as a skill? Certainly! Think back to those managers you had the priveledge of working with who were able to and comfortable with leading co-workers through change on a daily basis! Many learnt to manage from their experiences over a time and the qualities they exhibit as individuals. Time helps hone such skills. The trick I think is to remember how and when to use these skills in the most appropriate ways. That means being highly sefl aware, that is aware not only of oneself, but of others around you - emotional intelligence or EQ.

I had the priviledge to attend a personal development workshop through the Philosophy of Living Centre and relished every restful and reflective minute of it! I chose such a workshop over the myriad workshops to do with organisational development, management and leadership and countless others offered by various well respected institutions.

"...we point people in the direction of their own common sense and they learn through insight how to solve thier own problems, how to enjoy and appreciate life more. In essence, they learn to listen to their own wisdom" (Spittle, 2001).

Three points the Centre focuses on in its workshops are Mind, Thought and Consciousness. These three principles are used to explain and describe the experience of life, our "reality". Throughout the workshop, many participants told their stories and the workshop facilitator told some wonderful, simple, insightful stories too - they got us thinking and reflecting, much like the buddhist methodology of bringing one back into contact with and trusting one's own life experiences. One of my favourite books is The Tao of Pooh. Check out some of the thoughts here. For a reflective individual such as myself, I relish these texts! It mirrors the texts that are our life experiences.

Until the next ...