Revisiting some old notes

I am something of a hoarder – I tend to keep things and this includes materials from old courses.  As you would probably expect, I rarely look at these.  However, I recently decided to have a look at some old notes I found in one of my bags (I think I put them there to read on a train but never did).

I think looking back at the notes we make is a very useful experience in reflecting on our personal development, for example, it often shows when/how I was first introduced to a term or acronym and can be viewed in comparison to current practice to reflect on professional development.

Quotes from texts also help remind us of fundamental knowledge and perhaps where we are not doing what we should!

From these particular notes, mainly on instructional design and online learning, some bits jumped out:

  • The role of the professor is “master-guide” (Hype Versus Reality on Campus: Why e-Learning Isn’t Likely to Replace a Professor. Any Time Soon, by Brent G. Wilson and Lee Christopher) – useful in the MOOC debate.
  • Knowledge management is “how groups of people make themselves collectively smarter”, i.e. like training but not for the individual, in this instance knowledge is “a capacity to act” so KM is helping people make better decisions (Knowledge Management: From the Graveyard of Good Ideas, by William Horton)

Above are from the The e-learning handbook : past promises, present challenges / Saul Carliner and Patti Shank, editors.

  • “There are seven good reasons why portfolio-building is helpful:
  1. as a tool for self development;
  2. to asses prior learning;
  3. to gain accreditation;
  4. to share good practice;
  5. to evaluate training;
  6. to enhance performance;
  7. to change a culture.”

The above is from Warren Redman in 1994 (Portfolios for Development: A Guide for Trainers and Managers) but these points remain fundamental.  The arguments for and against ePortfolios must always remember these essential items.

Redman also made the following points which could easily come out of a L&D article of 2013: “increasingly there is a recognition that the key attributes needed by people in a constantly changing work environment are:

  1. flexibility;
  2. self-motivation;
  3. communication skills; and
  4. a willingness and ability to develop new skills”.

In looking back at our professional roots, such as these old notes (I think I made these about five years ago) we recognize the value in not repeating the mistakes of the past and also helps us remember that ‘new’ ideas are often not really new at all.  One advantage of the academic route into a profession is that, via literature reviews and other approaches, you can be familiar with historic projects and theory/practice development.  One fear in a less-university led world would be that historic knowledge is lost to information overload and we fail to build on the practice of the past.

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader ( and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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