Thursday, July 07, 2005

Now back from OhmyNews Forum and also the 'Rethinking Leadership' conference. I am still taking stock of the impression from Korea. I think they really have got the web integrated with other things they do. The UK academic conference seemed a bit out of it by comparison. Of course there are other issues than the web but I am now fairly certain that 'e-learning' is central to education debates, especially anything 'vocationa'' or relating to community or what people do anyway.

My outlook is influenced by the rejection of my workshop proposal. I now think that it is almost impossible for the 'management learning' academics to consider a positive view of quality. The 'critique' set of arguments is very well established. There is a paper by Chris Grey (PDF, requires Adobe Reader) for the current conference on critial management studies (CMS). This dates CMS to around 1992 so the collection 'Making Quality Critical' (1995) was quite early.

One of the speakers at the conference, Wendy Briner from Ashridge Management College, suggested that in appreciative enquiry people organise towards the positive image of themselves. Maybe something similar happens with 'deficit' thinking, if that is the right term. The aim of 'Making Quality Critical' seems to me to be to write off quality theory entirely so it is not surprising there seems to be no engagement with quality practice on this scene.

Some of the speakers were actually quite flexible. Professor Dennis Gleason spoke of 'dominant and intrusuve inspection' and stated that currently 'accountability in FE works more in favour of audit and funding regimes than for the community. He was not against accountability as such but there was not much of a description of what a suitable quality approach would be like.

Michael Hammond from Dudley College argued that current quality systems such as ISO 9000 were constraning FE leadership to a 'transactional' role while the 'transformational' style of leadership was called for in other contexts. This was one of the few occasions a set of categories on leadership made some sense for me. He was prepared to discuss the changes in ISO 9000 around 2000 but believed they had not been used at all in FE. He could well be right, my argument is just that this possibility should be considered.

e-learning was fairly marginal to the discussion. Network Learning is still seen as about dialogue but there is now an awareness of possible conflicts around difference as well as communities of practice. I couldn't see how anyone in FE would find much in this discussion that would be useful for them in making a case for e-learning.

In Korea we were given a book - 'Media Big Bang' by Tackwhan Kim and Sangbok Lee, translated by Youngeum Lee. This is based on newspaper articles from Joongang Ilbo in January 2005. I have started to read this and realise it is a thorough and wideranging book. There are many references to research and websites I have yet to follow up. The scope includes print media and academic journals. It is fairly clear that the speed of change is faster than most people in the UK are expecting.

One term in the book is 'morphosis' - 'the readiness to boldly abandon practices that are no longer useful and actively accept new changes'. More on this in the next post.

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