Disqualified gatekeepers

In a comment on yesterday's M.Ed in informal learning, Pete Reilly asked: "Any ideas on next steps?" I'm foreseeing four steps before academic credit for this approach will be given serious consideration by the gatekeepers:

  1. Rethink trust and credibility issues in order to get buy-in from early adopters and eventual gatekeepers

  2. Rapidly develop a working prototype that achieves the intended effects and transitions the learners successfully into this unfamiliar approach

  3. Offer free trials to learners and instructors in order to provide first hand experience of the effects to them and feedback from them to refine the working prototype

  4. Archive (using blogs & wiki) the personal experiences, perceptions of value, concerns raised and flaws identified by users of the prototype.
Future postings will explore steps 2,3 and 4. I'll focus of the first step today: getting buy-in by establishing trust and credibility. This approach implies a very different set of credentials than those admired by academia. Consider the following list of pedagogical qualifications:
  • Nurtures the cultivation of better questions, deeper thoughts and broader horizons by the attention to context instead of the relentless delivery of content.

  • Restores interest in subject matter by pulling for the learners, taking an interest in the students' viewpoints, concerns, confusion and self-interest

  • Takes partial responsibility for a student's loss of motivation, curiosity or creativity

  • Devotes time to learn from her teaching experiences, to change his own conduct, to revise the personal example being provided and to restore her own curiosity.
Instructors with these pedagogical qualifications would have the effect of increasing informal learning. In their presence, students would become more curious, exploratory and free ranging. The learning will be more valuable. Instructors with these qualifications would trust others who produce these same effects. These same qualifications would give others credibility and prove they were not hypocrites, scam artists or spin doctors.

Instructors without these pedagogical qualifications undermine the learners' curiosity, creativity and self motivation. The instructor's attempts to generate interest in the subject matter backfire. They set an example of someone who "talks the talk but cannot walk the walk" of effective learning. They cannot provide a living example of doing the right thing because they do not practice what they preach about learning from students, experiences and setbacks. These instructors do not earn respect or trust from students. They experience huge credibility problems by appearing so contradictory and hypocritical.

Instructors who fall short on affecting students favorably -- focus on their own academic credentials. They trust those who are qualified by research in the same area of expertise. They value peer-reviewed publications and insular accolades. They would not consider the qualifications they do not have. They would stick to their own kind and circle the wagons from anything different.

Gatekeepers with academic qualifications will remain opposed to M.Ed degrees that replace formal instruction with support for responsible learners. They are gatekeepers that can be disregarded as obsolete. Trust and credibility need only be established from gatekeepers with pedagogical qualifications, in order to move forward with offering this approach.


  1. A few random & quick thoughts:

    I know that Jay Cross has made space (and 8 years of thought & discussion) available on his InternetTime Wiki to foster just this kind of discussion. I'm sure that there is more that can be added (as in small pieces loosely joined), but it's a pretty good start. EdTech Talk could be a place to do a weekly/monthly discussion on informal learning. Anyway, I'm willing to help out as and where I can.

    In terms of re-thinking trust & credibility, learners can vote with their feet. That will show who has credibility.

  2. Hi;
    While I agree on the goals of informal learning and I agree there will be resistance on the part of gatekeepers; I think we should try diplomacy not war. (I consider discarding the gatekeeper as an invasion of their domain.)

    If diplomacy fails, I could go along with civil disobedience; but always respecting the individuals, even when working against their beliefs.

    My post today is called Educational Change: Diplomacy Not War.


  3. Harold: Thanks for the link, assistance and your comment. I'm in favor of carrying this exploration into a larger context too.

    Pete: Your post about diplomacy is profoundly insightful. Thanks for keeping this discussion going. I've added my next thought in a new post this morning.