OU Conf: Phil Candy keynote

National Director of Education, Training and Development for NHS Connecting for Health.  “Scholarship and the Rise of Knowledge Work?”

Denise Kirkpatrick welcomes everyone back. Much fewer people here – possibly because the programme is a bit unclear about what’s a keynote and what’s the parallel sessions, or possibly because not half so many ALs here. NHS Connecting for Health is largest civilian ICT project in the world (after Chinese Red Army comms group presumably).  He has four UG degrees, two PG degrees.  (Another ELQ failure then.)  Distinctive, evidence-based approach to adult learning in health and social care.

After an introduction like that, even I’ll be interested to hear what I’m going to say.

Slides will be available … afterwards.  Presentation dense.

Linus’s Law (Peanuts, not Pauling or Torvalds) – “There is no heavier burden than a great potential” – true a lot for the OU.

The Boyer ‘four scholarships’ idea – clearly has a lot of traction in his crowd.

“The work of the academy must be directed toward larger, more human ends” – Boyer summing up his ‘Scholarship of Engagement’ paper (J Pub Srv and Outreach)

Standardish overview of pressures on HE. Scholarship, research, teaching, admin – orthogonal skills.  Commitment to the collegium: Self-governing community of scholars. Boyer – Scholarship REconsidered – good book.

Boyer’s Four Scholarships: Teaching, Discovery (Research), Application (consultancy … or community service), Integration. Teaching and Application is sharing out, Discovery and Integration is drawing in. Theme is making connections between all four parts – it’s artificial, banal – to separate out.  And wrong to assign people to single boxes.

(The fun stuff now – for me? – is Application and Integration.  But the other two are good too.)

Scholarship of Teaching: barriers to it – massification, diversity of students, credentialism, ICT, difficulties in attracting full time faculty, user-pays more demanding ‘clients’, managerialism; good things – outreach to unserved populations, recognition of other forms of learning, new/empowering learning opps, adjunct faculty, true learner-centredness

“Nobody talks about getting release *for* teaching.”

Scholarship of Discovery: globalisation/loss of local relevance, money/getting grants, subversion of the ‘invisible college’ through greater availability of information (?!), shift away from peer-review (Mode 1 knowledge production); global collaboration (e.g. HGP), partnership with industry/interest in research and its applications, career opps for new researches, Mode II knoweldge prductions [GIbbons, Novotny and Limoges 1994]

Scholarship of Application: loss of independence, money-grubbing ‘consultancy’, telling clients what they want to hear, distraction from ‘real’ academic work, worth measured only in terms of commercial goals; real world as a site for practice, career progression in and out of academe, real world problems create ‘natural lab’, opps to create discretionary income streams to do good stuff (!)

Scholarship of Integration: breakdown of disciplinary purity, compromise in language or paradigms, loss of rigour/nobody to hold you to account (Image and Logic book – some physics domain which aren’t theoretical or experimental fields, but sit in intersection between the three, is a trading zone not colonised), difficulty in being judged fairly in one’s specialist field, dilution of scholarly communities; but breakdown of disciplinary purity is a good thing too, truly innovative insights from serendipity, unexpected breakthroughs, enhanced rigour since interdisc, systematic synthesis

Boyer and ‘seasons’ – don’t lock in to one of four as a career trajectory – but an academic is likely to move around and across these during their career.  (As Peter Knight advised me to argue about my profile.  Ho hum.)  Boyer reaffirms trad values in HE – some of them.  John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid – university in the digital age (Xerox Parc) [PDF!}

Knowledge-based occupations: professions, traditional knowledge-intensive jobs – e.g. insurance, publishing; new professions – consulting, info systems; changes in workplaces with more ICT.

Characteristics: never the same, creative, special skills, social distribution of knowledge (Learning in and out of school paper – deconstruct the skills and knowledge required to dock a large naval warship), communication with non-specialists, reflective.  In search of the knowledge worker (Paton, 2005) [PDF] – three axes: theoretical knowledge, contextual knowledge, intellective skills.

So need graduates who can do all this stuff.  And the various aspects require all four scholarships to achieve.  Hooray.  Candy et al 1994 Developing lifelong learners through undergraduate education.

List of what you can tweak in order to produce graduates for the information society.  Teaching is about all four scholarships.

Concept of ‘engaged college’ – H G Wells – universities “floating over the general disorder of mankind like a beautiful sunset over a battlefield” – from a piece called “World Brain: The idea of a permanent world encyclopaedia” – 1937 fascinating article worth another look, seems to be predicting Wikipedia :-).

The quesiton is not just “What does your machine produce” but also “How does your garden grow?” – Pace CR (1971) Thoughts on Evaluation in Higher Education.


Unison Northern Ireland – Individuals needs vs NHS needs?

Candy – inspirational leadership (!) – contented cows produce more milk.

Clare Spencer – AL from Wales – reconceptualise self as a day labourer of the mind.  Skepticism about teaching-only universities – is there a place for teaching-only staff?

Candy – No.  Maybe a period of their career where they are teaching-only, can’t do all four at equal standard all the time, but should test out other options.

SL from OUBS – Profile of knowledge worker versus what our students expect from us.  Geoff Peters course feedback, online Masters expects students to do stuff for themselves “We had to download papers for ourselves, read them … think for ourselves […] Where was the learning?” (Good quote but I missed it all.)

Candy – issue with reframing the language to match.

Josie Taylor – The elephant in the room – don’t disagree, discussion of Boyer is great, should embed it more. But there is a problem with the RAE (and successor).  Good management is good for everyone, especially younger members of community deployed badly and not in a position to recognise it.  Role of very effective and sympathetic management is important – realities of daily life is very tough.

Candy – Luxury of being out of full-time HE.  In NHS – some great managers, manage budgets, chair meetings etc, but still have respect for world of ideas (engage with papers etc) so it can be done.  In Oz – development of shadow admin structure – head of school has a business manager, internationalisation, fundraising, budgeting, HR – take away from academic leaders the things they’re not so good at, but means must be a partnership.

Author: dougclow

Experienced project leader, data scientist, researcher, analyst, teacher, developer, educational technologist and manager. I particularly enjoy rapidly appraising new-to-me contexts, and mediating between highly technical specialisms and others, from ordinary users to senior management. After 20 years at the OU as an academic, I am now a self-employed consultant, building on my skills and experience in working with people, technology, data science, and artificial intelligence, in the education field and beyond.