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March 26, 2012

Personal Learning Spaces

@ictedu conferenceBernie Goldbach in Thurles | Image from @ictedu | 440 words

I SPEND A LOT of time inside personal learning spaces that evolve based on available time and space. I don't think any of them feature in Paul Mooney's opinion piece about third level education.

In my mind, the biggest thing worth noting is how people involved in teaching adults need to consider how they are upskilling themselves. That's why I take time every day to read what others are saying about learning to learn. It's also why I get a little frustrated when bean counters try to put a metric on everything about learning. So I want to offer some frustration in return.

First, on the matter of physical assets for higher education in Ireland. As Brian Lucey and Charles Larkin reveal in their response to Paul Mooney, most third level institutions would be hard-pressed to offer up free classroom space at 10AM Monday through Thursday. Anecdotally, my 10AM Tuesday classroom is BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair) because we need to occupy a sound studio that is not on the institution's calendaring system. That's alright because we make audio and video clips in that room and we make higher quality clips when standing. There's also a humourous story about where we were scheduled to meet from 9-10 but you need to visit to appreciate that story. And there's the back story of how I stand all day and stand all evening when preparing lectures.

Second, the matter of contact time needs to be better appreciated by bean counters. Always-on connectivity interweaves with my daily life, blurring the lines between work and rest. Most days, I feel like I'm still part of a start-up or I feel like I'm in pre-flight mode for a Pacific crossing. I have to work at shutting off all connectivity. When connected, I'm in a work mode. Like several other lecturers I know, I respond to after-hours student requests concerning the creation of multimedia material. A time-motion analysis of the past weekend would show four instances of student-lecturer responses (two between 9PM and 6AM). There's no credit (or compensation via an expenses channel) for these interactions. Just the opposite--the system often advocated by management experts would terminate these interactions, compressing them into the 0900-1800 time frame of the work week. That simply does not work in a globalised world.

And finally, there's low respect in many management meetings for blogs like mine, for Facebook groups that attract students and for streams of digital creativity that represent the personal learning spaces of the next generation of creative Irish talent. And I know why--it's way too much information and it feels too Wild West. That's alright with me and with 100 others who will meet to share how they leverage learning spaces during the annual Schools Conference on May 19th on the Thurles campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology.

Paul Mooney -- "Inside Third Level" in the Irish Times, March 20, 2012.

Brian Lucey and Charles Larkin -- "What's REALLY going on inside higher education" on Lucey's blog, March 25, 2012.

LIT-Tipperary -- Annual ICT in Education Conference 2012



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