Monday 10 March 2008

the scope of learning responsibility: not my concern

In the Big Question for March, Tony Karrer asks the eLearning community What is the Scope of our Responsibility as Learning Professionals?

This question has a big ethical impact and I would love to say: sorry, this is not my responsibility at all!

In order to learn (informal or formal) I believe you need an ethical framework. Helping to build an ethical framework in all of the learners is the responsibility of learning professionals.

My partner is a K12 teacher with a strong belief in interactivity and online possibilities, but... we do not follow the benefits of informal learning to the same extend. My partner always tells me that if you leave all the information just for grabs, learners will only learn to ‘get information’, not to ‘filter information’ on a solid basis.

If learning is to benefit a community, a learner needs to be able to:
- have a set of ethical norms that make the community;
- make an analytical, critical decision in deciding which content is relevant, strengthening the community and significant;
- act as her or his own gate-keeper to their own knowledge.

“Oh please, this is only true for young students, not for grown-up learners!” I hear you think, but I know this is not the case.
People with a strong analytical mind figured out how the bombing of Dresden could be done with maximum efficiency (= massive killing). Afterwards many of them felt really bad because they did not know the impact of what they were researching. If learning and research are devoid of ethical impact, it can result in inhuman activities.

In this day and age, the amount of content is ever increasing. If you are a specialist, you cannot avoid but being a long tail learner. Keeping up with all the extra knowledge is impossible and you have to make learning decisions (let me just push you to Kathy Sierra’s view on this )
So the informal learning path will have boundaries, but it is up to the learner to make up these boundaries as she or he goes along. In this Generation C age, being able to fit content into an ethical frame becomes increasingly important because ethics become part of everyones responsibility (just read the book of Daniel Solove )

So, in my opinion any content a learning professional provides must be linked to an ethical framework. Thus learning professionals carry part of the responsibility of learner content, but the learner is responsible for willing to gain a critical, ethical mindset.

Or is this too much philosophy?