Monday, 27 August 2012

Lifelong Learning for the self taught!

Grimes graves Norfolk, ancient factory with modern ladder!

Self taught, self made!

A Victorian entrepreneur who lived the improvement dream was admired more if his family came from modest circumstances and he then made a pile!  He garnered public praise  especially if he became a great philanthropist! Examples of donations to the public good include Tate Gallery (Tate as in Sugar) and  Andrew Carnegie  with the various Halls, learning institutions and buildings (even though he made his fortune in America he was still a Victorian in the sense he was Scottish born).  He became even more admired if he claimed to be self taught!

With generally universal free formal education available from the ages of 7 to 16 in the developed world the idea of somebody being self taught is a "strange" concept today!  We often hear self taught musicians!  We are only aware if they are self taught when they proudly proclaim they have never had a lesson.  This ability is part of the innate set of tools we all seem to possess to a greater or lesser extent!  What might we now mean by self-taught?

The definition  of self-taught becomes even more blurred in the digital age! We have a formal training culture in the UK built up from apprenticeships that involved work and formal qualifications.  Universities have existed but it has to be remembered that to practice in the chosen you still needed to be qualified in the professional bodies' exams eg the bar exams, solicitors exams, becoming chartered.  This is something that many English students are probably not made aware happens.  They do not realise a first degree is only the first step.  America a readily acceptance of the concept of Grad Schools.  They realise that the first degree does not produce a finished article.  This is also something that a lot of UK parents whose children are the "first to go to University in their family" have difficulty grasping that there is no immediate guaranteed reward for the investment of having a first degree!

So where does that leave us with the self-taught?  How do they have their experience and qualifications recognised!  Many self-employed people have this dilemma.  They run a business for many years, they have great experience and are successful!  A lifestyle changing event such as old age, accident, flood, fire or banking crisis may cause a change in direction.  How do they formalise skills and experiences that an eCV search filter will recognise? 

There is a National Framework for Qualifications  in the UK that tries to classify qualifications in to Levels.  There is also system in Europe that over arches this European Qualifications Framework .  Included in this framework is Europass and European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).  The ECTS has been put on some diplomas especially from smaller organisations, I have myself been credited for points with a CPD course!

How is this affecting the digital age?  We have mentioned eCVs so far as being difficult for the person with non-formal "qualifications" to negotiate!  On-line learning that provides accreditation is a route many universities seem to be going along!  Even 20 (odd, very odd) years ago Dundee University and Stirling were talking of setting up video links to allow less well enrolled courses to continue!  A route to this attracted my attention called ALISON.  This may be the shape of training to come!

More discussion on these topics later!   


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