Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Critical Reflection Part 2

The purpose of the critical reflection is to demonstrate how practice has been transformed in any way, as a result of learning achieved on the module. This learning may have come from any of the following:

  • tasks you have completed
  • discussions either real or virtual with peers/classmates/colleagues
  • reading published texts
  • viewing blog posts
  • self reflection
  • practice
  • learning log/diary/journal

There were three broad themes covered in the module:

  • Communications Technologies
  • Reflection
  • Networking

You might ask yourself about how deeper engagement with these themes have impacted on both your learning and practice. What knowledge have you acquired as a result? One draft I have read mentioned that networking was taken to a more advanced stage with the establishment of a community of practice where knowledge is shared. It could be the case that your learning log shows how your perceptions have changed over time or in response to some new stimuli eg peers, published knowledge, practice.

The act of reflection can result in profound changes such as moving from:

Lacking self awareness ......Self Aware
Accepting ...... Questioning
Descriptive ..... Analytical
Reserved ..... Open
Unassertive ......Assertive
Doing ......Thinking

When presenting your critical reflection it would be good to tell us how you have learned. What do you do differently as a result of the learning and knowledge? For instance, instead of telling us that you have applied Gardner’s theories on multiple intelligences to your practice you should demonstrate how. Illustrate the change with an explanation. If it’s a complicated entity that has changed you might refer us to an appropriate appendix. Appendices are a tool which are useful in providing a back story. They provide the opportunity to enhance the main body of text.

You need to consider your appendices carefully. Position yourself at the centre of a myriad of evidence – e.g. Blog comments, learning diary entries, flickr photos etc, blog posts and sift through this evidence and choose the ones which best tell the story of your critical reflection. Some of the tasks you did may have been incidental. You may have posted a long blog on professional networking but perhaps the learning and transformation to you came about from a comment which someone made. Other academic advisors such as Alan and Adesola have written guidance on this topic which you could consult. After you have drafted up your portfolio for assessment it would be useful to re-read these blogs and self assess and come to a judgement about whether you have addressed the points they have made.

You have worked so hard on the tasks and the readings related to module. It’s now time to hone this mass of evidence into shape.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Some lines on lines of inquiry

I came across a funny greetings card at the weekend. It was a photo of a rather dashing woman and written beside her imposing image was the line, “My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance”. So while I am not dashing in any way, I decided to sweep the blogs with more than a glance in the last few days and was thrilled to see that some fascinating ideas are already emerging, touching on topics worthy of further inquiry. What’s also pleasing to note is that these topics of interest have stimulated much comment in our blogosphere.

From this activity we are beginning to see embryonic professional networks which could in the future form the basis of Subject Interest Groups. Stacey Wilson’s enthusiasm and inspiring curiosity on the topic of how professional practitioners cope with resting periods resonated with others. The use of celebrity, including the reality shows, in the promotion of dance theatre is both timely and relevant as presented by Sandy Moffat. The worthiness of investigating vocal qualities in singing was highlighted effectively by Alana Shirley while Ross Dunning’s blog on the back and spine in dance is clearly of deep personal interest to him. What is of deep personal interest to one professional practitioner would clearly be of interest to other practitioners. Stephanie Montgomery’s suggested topic, which is novel to me personally – the unexpected use of material such as making a dress out of raw meat is certainly pushing the boundaries. What all of these have in common is that they all are of deep personal interest and finding the answers will enhance professional practice. My sweep of the blogs was very rewarding and I look forward to reading more from everyone.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thinking about Critical Reflection

Looking at Kolb’s learning cycle (see p7 of the Reflective Practices Reader) you can see that all the tasks you have been doing and have yet to complete as part of the module are about having a concrete experience. For instance you may have made a 45sec movie clip about what you expect from BAPP, blogged an inquiry task or identified your five most important sources of information. These tasks, at first glance, may appear random and unconnected but towards the end of the module as you approach the assessment task of writing a critical reflection on your professional practice, you will move on to the next stage of Kolb’s cycle and review and reflect on the experience. What impact did these tasks have on your professional practice? What was learned as a result of completing them?

Reviewing all the tasks involves sitting back and making mental or actual notes on each of them. In Dewey’s view reflective thought involves “active, persistent and careful consideration” (see p6 of Reflective Practices Reader for full quote). You may see that there are patterns. For instance, certain tasks engaged you with technologies, while others were designed to actively engage you with peers. But the question to ask is what effect have they had on your professional practice? From all the tasks, certain themes may emerge and you need to identify these through another point on Kolb’s cycle – concluding from the experience (task). This process should provide you with the material you need for your critical reflection.

Another point on Kolb’s cycle is trying out what you have learned as a result of the reflection and identifying what was actually learned. You should be looking for deeper learning in constructing your critical reflection. While you might have learned how to embed a link to a flickr site from your blog, the question to ask is whether this actual activity had any impact on your actual professional practice and if so how? You may find, perhaps, that the process of learning was more about the content of the images of you posted on flickr. You may have noticed through engaging with other blogs that some of your colleagues were more selective in images they provided links to and thus used the opportunity to demonstrate their different skills / aptitudes, while on reflection you posted images which were all slightly different shots of the same event / show. Therefore in constructing a visual CV, on reflection, you may choose to revise what you include on a flickr link in the future.

Key issues to cover in your critical reflection on professional practice are to consider how your professional practice has been changed and this will be the subject of my next blog.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Catching up with Module

It’s early days yet on the programme and some are further on with the tasks than others. There are a lot of good reasons for that but it’s important right now to try and catch up, if you are behind, before you feel overwhelmed. It’s worth recalling that there are 3 strands/themes to the module. The first is Professional Communication Technologies, the next is Reflective Practitioner (which is where we are right now) and finally there is the Networked Professional. Each one of these has the following elements:

Campus Session
Tasks to do

All the readers are located under the module tab on libguides. The campus sessions have been reported upon on many of the blogs and indeed the blogs also contain many of the tasks. The tasks to do for Part 1 – on Page 8 of the Module Handbook. Tasks for Part 2 – are on Page 14 of the Handbook. It’s good to remember that each theme is underpinned with a reader which introduces the topic to you at greater depth and contains suggestions for further readings for you.

The campus sessions have been reported upon on many of the blogs and indeed the blogs also contain many of the tasks.The First Campus session is well described by Mark & Anthony. Paula has posted the student work produced in that session as well as my blog. Joanna's account of Professional Communications Technologies drew in a range of comments from colleagues and is well worth a look as are the comments. The tasks, in particular, the video clip produced some real creative and entertaining gems. In the realm of photos, Melissa provided a professional overview of her professional practice as did Ross. The videos gave opportunity to fulfil those cinematic urges. Stacey’s video clip is a mixture of the scarily imaginative at the outset transferring to a straight to camera piece. Other clips which cleverly conveyed the message were Joanna’s (who also provides technical advice, Hayley’s & Alana’s .

My earlier post provides an overview of the exercises we did with short video clips for those who were not there. Natalieprovides a good account of Campus Session 2 (Reflective Practice) while Mark’s follow up piece in Reflection in and Reflection on Action is well worth reading.

The sources of learning are becoming evident and they are building up into resources. There are examples of all stages in Kolb’s Learning Cycle (see Reader) contained within these blogs.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Refelction - theme of Campus Session 2

This was meticulously planned by Adesola – and the theme of the session was Reflection which is in the reader for this section of the module. It was a pity that at the last moment, Adesola had urgent family business and so it fell to Paula and I to run the session on her behalf. One of the exercises we did was to imagine another professional practice as follows:

Professional Partners

Partner with someone who does not do what you do - think of ‘what you do’ choose one thing! And put it as a title on your notebook (i.e. choreographer), then swap with partner and list all the things they experience / do. Swap back and read what is said. In the discussion afterwards there was more reporting on the content of what people thought their partner did rather than on the process.

Scary story

The next exercise involved telling a scary story as follows: Scary story – with a partner, tell story then do it with different partner…talk about the experience
In the feedback this time which was more about the process than the content of the story points were made that you had to react quite quickly with little time to think.

Moving with sticks

Using Sticks, in threes (or four) the class had to move from one side of the room to the other and turn inside out. The feedback on this was that teamwork, communication and co-ordination were necessary. The groups merged naturally to try another level of difficulty unprompted.

We then asked participants to jot down one thing from this morning’s activity they could identify with in Kolb’s Learning Cycle which is the Reflection Reader which is part of the module.

Silent Tour

Everyone was asked to plan their own, including three things using three pieces of card. They could include sound, smell etc…. In groups of four everyone to both lead a tour and go on one. In the feedback afterwards, everyone said how much they enjoyed this and the main difference was that they had time to plan this.

The discussion turned to journal writing which is the nature of the next set of tasks – as on Page 14 of the Module Handbook. We asked people to revisit the points they had identified as having experienced in Kolb’s Learning Cycle and after a few days to revisit this and see if anything new could be recorded as a way of stimulating reflective practice.

During the campus session, everyone was asked to make a contribution to the graffiti wall as thoughts occurred to them

Friday, 15 October 2010

Music on the web

As it's the weekend you might wish to chill with some music - here's a link to a search engine called MUNDU on the web I discovered - you can find

Sound Files

I've tried it and it's pretty fast...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Technologies in Professional Practice

The opportunities and threats in relation to the above formed the theme of the campus session on 1st October. Teams were formed and asked to consider the issues and prepare a group presentation toward the end of the session. I hovered around the edge of a four person team made up of :


I observed them develop and prepare their presentation. They started out by talking around the topic – working to achieve a common understanding of what was meant by both professional practice and technologies. They added theoretical underpinning to their ideas as each of them spent 20 mins scanning and digesting one article from lib guides which they brought back to the group discussion. They developed their original thoughts as a result of this activity and drawing upon the literature they added weight to their argument. Two of the papers, they looked at were:

Lorenzo et al, (2006)

Ullrich et al (2008)

The other papers are all available on the Specific Links tab for the Module

At the end of this process they worked on their story board for the presentation and agreed a structure. In designing their presentation they agreed to frame their ideas in a metaphor of the sea. This dimension brought the presentation into sharper focus and contributed to the professionalism of the team. In the 2 hours 20 minutes available, the four of them traded experiences and knowledge, read and made notes from four articles, constructed a coherent presentation and here is the result - a very good morning’s work indeed.

Lessons learned from the process

Spend time clarifying the issue/scoping the problem(s), settling on definitions
Team working is more effective than working individually
Digesting other ideas (peers & literature) is worthwhile
Backing up ideas from published work is essential
Deeper learning occurs when ideas are discussed, iterated, explored in texts and applied
Time spent editing and shaping work is necessary

The team made a short video summarising their points (apologies for the dodgy voice sync)

Other teams made very good presentations as well, but I do not have their material to post. A very enjoyable morning indeed - well done everyone!

Friday, 24 September 2010


One of the best tips I ever got was from a book called “What colour is your parachute” many moons ago. And it was this. In telling your story through your CV you should relate your achievements in particular posts as opposed to merely describing your duties. So instead of saying,

“Taught a range of post-graduate modules

I would say,

“Developed two new modules in consultation with employers and amended the assessment on another in order to make it more relevant to students’ intended career path”.

The second statement demonstrates a more active approach to work and therefore is more appealing to an employer. Crafting a CV is a vitally important task. It’s getting your foot in the door and it demands that you spend a great deal of time working on it.

Showing instead of telling

While I have not got a CV to hand at the moment, the details of my employment history and education are there for all to see on the LinkedIn site. The LinkedIn site does offer some insight into my career. It provides links to both my tweets and to slideshare where my slides are on public view. Showing my slides could be considered as part of my portfolio. This shows what I can actually do as opposed to merely stating it on a CV.

If you have the opportunity to present a CV digitally, you should consider embedding digital examples of your work as a showcase of what you can do. Nigel Boyce is an actor who has appeared in a range of productions. He has produced a video clip which clearly demonstrates his range of work.

Patrick O'Kane is another actor who has put his CV on his agent's site with a an example of his voice. There is a long list of productions he has appeared in. The two modes of presentation are in sharp contrast. It would be interesting to hear which you think more effectively showcases their professionalism to the greater effect?

Reflection & CV

Producing a CV should encourage self reflection. What is the message you want to convey about yourself? Critically review your own CV and consider how a potential employer might view you. For instance, I am aware that my own CV shows a higher than average number of employers. Anyone reading it might assume that I have itchy feet. Or that I am not very committed. Or even, maybe, that I had to move on. I am aware of these so in telling the story of my work history I try to convey a sense of achievement. And this is actually true. In the process of self-reflection , I conclude that I like starting new things, I thrive on a challenge and I love learning. When I have mastered something new I have tended to move on and start afresh.

The experience of working in a variety of organisations, with different cultures has been very useful as I can bring to a new organisation things I have learned elsewhere as well as the confidence to deal purposefully with a wide range of abilities. It has been a privilege to have been a part of so many great organisations and to have seen how they operate from the inside. Not only did all this experience benefit me in moving from job to job (and usually to a better one), it solidified my academic interest in organisational culture. I was curious to learn more about what makes organisations tick? This led me into my first academic role, teaching Management at Post graduate level. After some time I changed tack again and became interested in the notion of Leadership. This led me into thinking about the difference between Management and Leadership. And this has led to my current interest which is biographical data and uncovering the language (or discourse) of leaders. Carrying out a series of biographical interviews has then led me into evaluating this as a methodology for inquiry.

Hedgehog or Fox?

Isaiah Berlin
was a philosopher who wrote a famous essay called the Hedgehog and the Fox about the pursuit of knowledge. The hedgehog knows a lot about one big thing while the fox knows many small things. I believe my work history shows that I have leanings towards the fox.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Photos on Flickr

When I got my digital camera a few years ago I began to store the pictures on my computer and decided to build up an image bank. A few months ago I uploaded some of my photos to the flickr resource. Here is a sample of my photos. I found it useful to organise them into themes; hence I have this set which I have entitled "Adult Learning" and I have one on "Transport" and so on. I have used my images in my professional practice in slide shows which I have developed as learning tools. Another good use I put my images to is the creation of my unique calling cards through Moo - which is relatively inexpensive. Doing this has made me realise how valuable the digital camera is and I make sure I have it with me as much as possible. When I am taking a close up photo of people I ask the subject if they mind if I take their photo. Mostly, people are ok about it but occasionally, they refuse. This I fully respect. Thinking about an image bank has made me look around me a lot more when I am out and about. It has also made me more aware of the everyday events close at hand. A camera is not just for holidays: it's for life!

Those times I do not have my camera I use my mobile phone. In fact, I was so pleased with this image I took on my i-phone that I used it for my calling / business card. I like the fact that it's the confluence of three textures / structural materials. It's taken in my hotel room in Barcelona when I was at a conference there last year. I am sure I was influenced by my god-daughter who had just completed architecture and listening to her talk with enthusiasm about building materials made me look at structures and buildings with a better informed eye.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Learning Resources Quiz

This is open to all students on the BA Professional Practice programme in the School of Arts & Education, in Middlesex University. Please e-mail your answers to r.mcguinness@mdx.ac.uk before 12.00 on 30th September. The winner will be drawn and announced at the Campus Session on 1st October, in MODA at the Cat Hill campus. When you e-mail your entry please put Chocolate in the subject line. The prize is a large bar of Green & Black chocolate and a copy of Getting Started with University Level Work Based Learning edited by Alan Durrant et. al. The best responses to the last question will be posted on the blog and a special prize will be awarded. Enjoy discovering the Learning Resources at Middlesex.

1. What year was the most recent book by Alan Durrant in the library published?

2. What shelf mark is Performance Art at?

3. What do you need in order to log on to the Middlesex University Web Help Desk?

4. What year did the design and arts index begin?

5. How many titles are in the essential bibliography on the theme “Reflective & Experiential Learning”?

6. The key to electronic resources shares its name with a European capital. What is it called?

7. In the DVD/Video section of the Dance Subject Guide how many minutes does the DVD “Dance Salsa with Sanchez Puerto Rican style” last?

8. Complete the following sentence in no more than 15 words – Learning resources are ....

There will be a special prize for the best response to the last question with a selection posted on the blog. Enjoy discovering our learning resources.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Free Guide to Punctation

A good day's work for Beckett, allegedly, was to place a comma in his text. His next day's work would be to remove it; carefully.

If he were around today, he may have found the free 184 page book called, "Improve your punctuation", included with today's Times newspaper of help. All those squiggles and lines which interrupt our words in the page are de-constructed with explanation. The necessity for the practice of punctuation is clear from the following example in the introduction:

I hate habitual liars; like you, I find them detestable.

I hate habitual liars like you; I find them detestable.

Same words, different punctuation, different meaning. Get it, if you can, today. Glancing through it, it's entertaining, useful and breezily written. It comes from the Collins stable of publishers.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Chartership from CILIP and earning a degree through working...

Work Based Learning as a mode of learning has a long history and on page 9 of the current edition of CILIP's gazette, (21 July - 11 August 2010) an article suggests that "Work Based Learning gives more options for Chartership". The central plank of Work Based Learning comes from recognising the development of knowledge in the workplace and that this knowledge is comparable with university level courses and the National Qualifications Framework. The model is totally flexible and works extremely well in any professional context. The model comprises a three way partnership. Firstly, there is the individual professional / learner wishing to develop their career and bring added value to their profession and the workplace. Secondly, there is the employing organisation, leveraging advances in the workplace through the project approach afforded by Work Based Learning. Thirdly, there is the university, recognising and accrediting learning in the workplace, as well as forging valuable links with employers and the profession.

The university maps existing workplace knowledge against criteria matching the various levels of awards once individuals have told the university what they know and how they apply it. From then on, individuals negotiate their own pathway to an award in conjunction with their employer. There are three main advantages to this approach in working towards a higher education award. The first is that participants in such a programme are totally based in their workplace with no requirement to attend weekly lectures or seminars. The programme uses a range of Web based technologies to provide academic support and guidance. Secondly, participants only need to learn what is wholly relevant to their professional practice. Thirdly, there is the time and cost factor. Earning a degree through Work Based Learning can be both shorter and cheaper than the traditional route. This is totally dependent on what is already known and can be accredited. The maximum number of credits that can be earned in this way is 240 of the 360 required for an honours degree. The programme offers many exit points and the concept and range of award opporunities are explained in an earlier blog's slideshow.

The advantage of work based projects is that they are applied within the context of professional practice. While some seek to change practice as in Action Research, others want to conduct an inquiry with a view to finding answers about professional practice. Examples of projects in the domain of Information & Libraries Management which might be used towards earning a degree are:

  • Design and delivery of a user education programme
  • Exploiting Web 2.0 technologies to disseminate information services
  • Incorporating E-books
  • Service innovation in an age of austerity
  • Ensuring copyright compliance

Middlesex University
has a wealth of experience in Work Based Learning and has been a Centre of Excellence in this area.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Leading Information Management Professional resonates with Work Based Learning & Professional Practice

Sue Westcott is a leading figure in the Information & Knowledge Management profession. She recently gave a presentation to the NETIKX network. Sue kindly agreed to allow me to include this presentation alongside my own on slideshare and to embed it here. It has a great deal of resonance with the approach taken here in Work Based Learning Programmes in Middlesex University and in the new Information & Libraries undergraduate programme in Professional Practice. Many thanks, Sue.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Panel Discussion on Ethics in Business in Middlesex University

Wednesday 14 July
Time: 6-9pm
Venue: The Sir Raymond Ricketts Quadrangle, Hendon Campus, The Burroughs, London, NW4 4BT
6pm – Drinks Reception
An information stall will be available for those interested in studying Law and the MA Human Rights and Business at Middlesex.
6.30pm – Panel discussion and Q&A
7.30pm – Refreshments
Spaces are limited, if you would like to attend RSVP to Sharon Procter, email humanrights@mdx.ac.uk or phone 020 8411 5555.
For travel directions to Hendon Campus, please see www.mdx.ac.uk/hendon.
For information on the MA Human Rights and Business, and our other suite of Law courses, please see www.mdx.ac.uk/pglaw

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Work Based Learning in Libraries and Information Management

The following slideshow provides an overview of a BA (Hons) in Professional Practice on offer from September 2010 - a collaboration between the Work Based Learning in Arts & Education in Middlesex University and Information Management in Thames Valley. Other parties in the development are Chartered Institute of Library & INformation Professionals (CILIP) and Foundation Degree Forward (FDF)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Practice of Leadership in Children's Centres

Just back from meeting with a group of very dynamic Children's Centre leaders - a clearly committed group who are seeking accreditation and recognition of their workplace learning. Their Action Learning Set is very well developed and advanced and it would be very rewarding to work with this cohort. The group are keen to develop their knowledge, particularly in leadership. While theories of leadership can be gleaned from texts, it is the practice of leadership which enables the creation and acquisition of knowledge. This is exactly what this group have in abundance.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Failing to adhere to ethics ends professional career

The guardian article reveals the story ...

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor at the centre of the MMR row, has been struck off for serious professional misconduct. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA He was not at the General Medical Council (GMC) hearing to receive the verdict on his role in a public health debacle which saw vaccination of young children against measles, mumps and rubella plummet.

The GMC said he acted in a way that was dishonest, misleading and irresponsible while carrying out research into a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, bowel disease and autism.

He had "abused his position of trust" and "brought the medical profession into disrepute" in studies he carried out on children.

The GMC said there had been "multiple separate instances of serious professional misconduct".

One of Wakefield's colleagues at the time at the Royal Free hospital in London, John Walker-Smith, 73 and now retired, was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck off. Another, Simon Murch, was found not guilty. Wakefield had already been discredited after a series of research projects failed to find any link between the triple MMR vaccine and autism, although a number of families continue to support him, even claiming to have been victimised for working with him.

He said today in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme before the verdict that he and colleagues had listened and responded to "concerns of parents about their very sick children" and had acted "appropriately in the children's best interests to determine what the nature of their problem was".

Months after his research was published, the government withdrew single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, which parents could have opted for instead of the triple jab.

"When I made the recommendation to single vaccines they were available in the UK," he said from New York. "It is the government that is to blame for the resurgence of measles."

Wakefield said he had never opposed vaccination or claimed to have proof that MMR was linked to autism.

"I never made the claim at the time, nor do I still make the claim that MMR is a cause of autism," he said.

"You are conflating the two things. You are conflating the link with autism with the overall review of the vaccine."

In a statement after the verdict, he claimed that efforts to "discredit and silence me through the GMC process" had provided a screen to shield the government from exposure over the the MMR vaccine "scandal".

Wakefield had been found guilty in January of acting dishonestly and irresponsibly for carrying out unnecessarily invasive tests on children. He was said to have abused his position of trust, although his dishonesty had not led to personal financial gain.

He and the other doctors published a paper in the Lancet medical journal in February 1998 suggesting the measles virus might be linked to inflammatory bowel disease and play a role in autism.

The paper, based on just eight case studies, conceded that no definite link had been found but Wakefield, at a press conference, said he believed that instead of the triple MMR, children should be given doses in single jabs, preferably a year apart.

The GMC panel in January found Wakefield had conducted the trial unethically, including subjecting 11 children to invasive tests, such as lumbar punctures and colonoscopies they did not need, and without proper approval.

In February 1998, the same month the Lancet paper was published, he applied for ethical permission to run a trial of a new potential measles vaccine and set up a company called Immunospecifics Biotechnologies which would produce and sell it. The father of one of the children he had seen with developmental problems and bowel disease would be the managing director.

Wakefield tried the new vaccine on the child without mentioning it in medical notes or telling the child's GP. He was also found to have unethically arranged for his son's friends to have blood samples taken from them during his birthday party – for which he paid them £5 each.

The GMC panel chairman, Surendra Kumar, said: "In causing blood samples to be taken from children at a birthday party, he callously disregarded the pain and distress young children might suffer and behaved in a way which brought the profession into disrepute."

Wakefield hit on his theory after seeing children with bowel disease who had developmental problems. The third step in the hypothesis was the timing of the MMR vaccine: the first shot is given at around 13 months, about the age when autistic spectrum disorders start to be noticed.

In February, the 53-year-old left his role at a Texan clinic, The Thoughtful House Centre for Children, which he founded to study developmental disorders.

Kumar said Murch's involvement was more limited than that of Wakefield and Walker-Smith. He should have ensured there was appropriate ethical approval for research on the children, but ended the lumbar punctures after being unable to draw any clear inference that the children were suffering from a serious neurological disorder.

"The panel concluded Prof Murch acted in good faith, albeit it has found he was in error," said Kumar. "His actions, although comparable to professional misconduct in respect of undertaking procedures which were not clinically indicated, were mitigated by the fact he was under a false impression that they were clinically indicated."

Terence Stephenson, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "Measles, mumps and rubella vaccines have all been shown to be safe and UK families are fortunate to have free access to these which is not true of many parts of the world. The false suggestion of a link between autism and the MMR vaccine has done untold damage to the UK vaccination programme."

The Department of Health said: "The safety of MMR has been endorsed through numerous studies in many countries.

"Thankfully, more parents are having their children vaccinated with MMR and they see it as being as safe as other childhood vaccines."

Isabella Thomas, 53, from Somerset, insisted that her two sons Michael, 18, and Terry, 16, received "fantastic" treatment at the Royal Free hospital under Wakefield.

"They were normal, then they started to deteriorate neurologically and medically. They were in the most horrendous pain you could think of. I went from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was wrong. I was only too pleased to be part of the study because we needed to find out what was wrong with the boys."

Thomas said that, as controversy erupted surrounding the research, the family was blacklisted.

"When I went to my doctor he said: 'I don't want politics being brought into this surgery'. I said: 'My son is ill, it's not about politics.'"

Allison Edwards, chairwoman of the campaign group Cry Shame which supported Wakefield, said: "This is to issue a warning to doctors not to dissent. No children were harmed in the clinical tests, they were trying to look at the problems and treat them, and the children improved. How do you get charged with doing your job?"

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Two Men and some Tweets

Two men in a meeting. Having a discussion. One has his Blueberry in hand and takes it up from time to use it. The other notices but presumes his actions are ok. It later traspires that the account of the meeting as deduced by the first man is actually being braodcast on Twitter.

These two men are in the news at the moment. The man with the Blackberry is Derek Simpson leader of UNITE union who are in dispute with BA (The world's favourite airline). The other is Willie Walsh, CEO of the airline.

"I was shocked and angry when I found out that Derek was doing that. Sending out his version of events to the wider audience, that really did undermine my confidence in his desire to resolve this situation. It is a really serious issue," Walsh said.

Simpson reported, "I am not afraid of saying what is really going on .....".

How clear cut are the ethics?

Was there full and informed consent to tweet? Well clearly not, or else Mr Walsh would not have been so annoyed. But is that unethical? Have BA dealt ethically with their employees? Do the employees have a right to know what top management are communicating to their union leader. On the other hand, should information be released during the course of negotiations as opposed to at the end? This is a fine example of how ethics can be unclear unless the full information and knowledge is to hand. And the entire process of negotiation does involve withholding of information / knowledge as a bargaining tool. Other aspects to consider ethically are ....

Was any harm done to participants at the meeting?
Was any harm done to parties outside the meeting?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Idenities, multimodality and knowledge

Identities was a recurrent theme at the one day conference on the Ph.D in the multimodal age yesterday in the British Library yesterday. Katherine Hayles' work on the posthuman condition was alluded to by Lesley Gourlay.

This is expressed as the cognosphere which hosts a dispersed sense of self (Hayles 1999) and where distributed identities co-exist. Another theme explored was the continuing existence of the artefact of the Ph.D as a collation of linear text following a conventional format. The evolution of the modal approach is starkly illustrated when two BBC sites are compared. Gunter Kress Professor of Semiotics at the Institute of Education showed how modal the BBC children's site is compared to the more linear structure of the main site.

The discussion suggested that change is in the air with professional practice at doctoral level deserving of consideration of acceptance of alternative formats as a key notion. Resistance will be challenging in that examiners in following a rigorous convention, submitted their Ph.Ds in that format. Ergo, so should everyone else. The social shift from citizen to consumer could, however, counter academic intransigence. Individual self interest is stronger now and this development is in parallel with the deep social changes where pillars in other spheres have been weakened if not yet quite crumbled as has happened in the Church and Parliament. Surely this affront on the academy's pillars will be afforded new weight from the Tory / Liberal alliance. A new format Ph.D would see the individual telling the academy "I can choose" in a world where user generated content as facilitated by Web 2.0 technology is the norm. Is the brave new world on its way? Academics are able to accommodate the change, but are they willing?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Forging identity and learning in Professional Practice

Knowledge acquisition and learning have shifted from the explorations in Artificial Intelligence and neural networks to how technology has adapted to living in the world, asking who we are, how we learn and construct knowledge. Etienne Wenger (he who coined the phrase – Communities of Practice with Lave) had some big questions to ask at the Mediating Boundaries conference organsied by Jisc Advance on 12th May in London. His big question is how technology interacts in the social world. As a snail on garden path leaves a silver trail indicating his presence so our meanderings in the digital habitat reveals something of our identity. The issue of our identity or multiple identities in reconfiguring the landscape we inhabit is another idea which preoccupies him. There are four facets to our occupation of the digital habitat:

Fabric of connectivity which encapsulates our virtual presence
Modes of engagement which mirrors self expression
Active Medium indicates social/informational computing
Redefined geography opens the possibilities of multi-membership

We place ourselves at the centre of the digital landscape and we manage these connections with a multiplicity of thick (closer) and thin (less close) relationships. Wenger posed the question of social learning spaces. Where do we come to know both a practice and identity? Is it on a technologically facilitated network or at a real workshop? Where is there a genuine social learning space?

Accountability and responsibility are two certainties for individuals in organizations. And Wenger identifies two discourses which are at odds here. The vertical line which reflects grade and scale and is expressed in Policy. The horizontal line embraces tacit peer contact and is not always positive.

The implications of this for professional practice are profound. From an identity perspective we have to consider the various relationships we have and how where we visit impacts on and shapes our identity. Presumed in this identity is what we know and how we learned what we know. In promoting a learning citizenship Wenger advocates moving from curriculum oriented view to an identity oriented view. This means shifting our practice from what we are going to teach to managing who we are. Becoming good at something is preferable to not succeeding and the production of portfolios and establishing areas of excellence is central to placing individuals at the centre of a learning landscape as opposed to standing alongside it. The digital habitat is a series of nodes and network links and as connected professionals we have to both locate ourselves on the landscape and forge an identity.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Submission Guidance

The following should all be submitted as your whole assignment. This is taken from the Guidance Notes for the Module which you were sent back in February. The suggested word counts are included. Make sure that your assignment is professionally presented with a clear and helpful layout / structure e.g. Title Page & Table of Contents


Learning Diary (Blog entries 5 x 200 words) 1000 words
Critical Commentary on learning in this module (Blog) 500 words


Influences on Worker / Researcher
Critique of Research Tool (e.g. Questionnaire)


3 Project Proposal 2500 words
3 Ethical Issues relating to Project Proposal 500 words
3 Ethics Release Form Form completed by you


4 Proposal & Rationale for your Award Title 500 words
4 Learning Agreement Cover Sheet Form completed and countersigned (Ignore Parts 1,2,3,4)

Separately Module Feedback Questionnaire (send to Avni) Form to complete

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Creative Arts on the Election Agenda.

The 6th May is probably indelibly marked on your hearts as it’s hand in day. It is also of course Election Day. As you are all working frantically on your assignments and may not have the time to see what the parties are including in their manifestos I thought I would give you a brief overview of what the three parties have to say about the Arts.

The Labour Party manifesto runs to over 70 pages and is divided into 10 chapters covering topics such as education, health and crime. One of the chapters which is most closely aligned with the Creative Arts is “Communities and Creative Britain”. There are five pages in this section and there is a lot in there about Sport and the Olympics in particular. In relation to the arts Labour wants to promote what it calls creative partnerships which will ensure that people in most deprived parts of the country are able to fulfill their artistic talents by working with local arts and cultural organizations. They intend building on the success of free theatre to young people and looking towards providing reduced rate tickets for theatrical productions around Britain. And promisingly they mention the prospering of national cultural life by developing young artistic talent. Creative Bursaries are being proposed to support artistically gifted young people early in their careers. This chapter of the manifesto is wide ranging and covers issues such as community post offices and public libraries. The only mention of dance in their manifesto is that they are going to give local authorities greater powers to reject applications for lap-dancing clubs. The claim is within the manifesto that creative industries now account for 10% of the economy and they aspire to strengthen this by encouraging the film industry, the independence of the BBC and encouraging plurality of provision of broadcasting via the other television networks – Channel 4, ITV & Channel 5.

The Conservative manifesto has a small section on Culture, Arts and the Media. It’s much briefer than the Labour party’s chapter running to just under 350 words as opposed to 900 in theirs. The themes it briefly skims over are the lottery, the Olympics. The focus of their manifesto is chiefly on ICT provision with an infrastructure proposed to allow the expansion/ diversification of organizations as it addresses, commercial television, broadband and telephony infrastructure and services. There is nothing in there about the individual participation in the arts either as performer or in the audience in contrast to the Labour manifesto.

The Liberal Democratic Manifesto is the longest of them all and runs to over 100 pages. It’s structure is in sharp contrast to the other two in that it moves away from 10-12 areas of interest roughly mirroring government departments to putting the citizen at the centre of its manifesto. Hence there are four sections You and – Money; Job; Life; Family. This layout made it less obvious what their view on the creative arts are. Thankfully, there is a useful subject index at the back of the manifesto and this will direct you to the relevant part of the manifesto (pages 44-46). Like the other two parties there is mention of the Olympics and a sweeping statement about wishing to foster an environment in which all forms of creativity are able to flourish. Specifically this manifesto promises to maintain free entry to museums and galleries and to establish a creative enterprise fund offering training, mentoring and small grants to help creative industries get off the ground. One of its specific promises concerns live music performance in that they want to cut the red tape in relation to the entertainment licence. If this manifesto becomes government policy then unamplified music with no more than two musicians can be played in any licensed premises. Venues which cater for up to 200 people will not need such a licence

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Professional Practice - a camera operator's view

Contacts and networking are at the heart of professional practice. This was a key theme in the interview with Anna Valdez Hanks in Middlesex University’s School of Arts & Education today. Anna Valdez Hanks’ path into camerawork began in Medical School when she started studying Ethics as part of her course. As a result of this she changed her mind about becoming a doctor and graduated in Medical Ethics instead. She desperately wanted to make a film about to communicate as idea but did not have the technical know how. So Anna went off to college and did a BTec in Film Making.

Her career started at the bottom when a BBC crew went to her college and she offered to help them out. She got talking to a producer and subsequently e-mailed him. This led to more unpaid roles but very useful experience which was a valuable learning opportunity. Eventually, Anna found herself an unofficial mentor who helped develop her skills as well as her paid work. She is now working freelance as a camera assistant and has built up a wealth of experience since that. She has won a short film competition in the Straight 8 competition,(Looking for Marilyn)(see below) worked on Endgame for Channel 4, as well as ad shoots.

The topics covered in the interview were wide ranging with some of the focus on the technical aspects of filmmaking with the move from film to digital as a recording tool. Anna also discussed the relationship between cinematographer and director which can be challenging at times when interpretations over style and voice are at a variance.

Other parts of her interview clearly showed that in order to be a Professional Practitioner she needs skills, technical knowledge as well as negotiating skills. She has used competitions as a way of developing her knowledge in addition to her career.

As a freelancer Anna talked of the difficulties of time management in between jobs but with experience and more resources she now uses her downtime to develop her own projects and collaborates on scripts with peers. She stressed the importance of maintaining contacts with various professional networks. The interview was punctuated with clips of her actual work. One of these was her show reel which she is a work in progress. She wants to do more work on it before she sends it out to agents. This is her potential calling card and Anna pointed out that she can she can see a development in her work and how it has improved.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tutor Guidance on Blogs

There’s a wealth of advice on the above to help you progress on the module. Here is a flavor of what you will find there:

For guidance on the Project Plan for the Assignment check Paula’s blog entry called Campus Session 4. My blog has a slideshow called Research Overview which has a slide on a project timeline which could be a model for you. Paula’s Activities 1,2,& 7 entry is helpful in focusing on actions you should be completing for inclusion in the assignment. Ethics is a requirement for your assignment and the principles are covered here on this blog.

Peter’s Evaluating your Topic is a thoughtful piece and should be read in conjunction with Paula’s Basic Theory entry.

The Interview Method as a research tool is well covered by Paula. If you are interested in preparing a survey you should look at Preparing your Research Survey on Peter’s Blog as well as the Surveys slideshow on my blog. Observations may be an option for data gathering you are considering and again, this blog provides information as well as an exercise.

There’s lots more on these blogs as well as your class colleagues. A list of blog addresses is being prepared to be sent to you in the near future. Best regards and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Observation Exercise Follow Up

At the campus session yesterday we observed the short clip and in the discussion afterwards people started to interpret the data without actually defining the criteria / phenomena to be observed. That's why it would be useful to watch the clip again and define what the observation should document and then devise a grid to enable data to be gathered. The main lesson learned yesterday from this exercise was that a pilot would be more than helpful in designing a grid. Check Slide 9 on the Observations slide show for a sample gird.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Observation Exercise

Having read around the topic of observations it should be clear that conducting a pilot would be useful in order to decide on criteria that you are actually going to observe. Have a look at this 3 minute clip of a dancing lesson and establish which phenomena you are going to observe. In other words define what is to be documented to enable you to produce an observation grid.

PS. Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Observations in Research

Research Overview

The following slides form part of the Campus Session on 16th March

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Campus Session 2 - 3rd March

Peter and Paula covered a lot of material in this session. Please check their blogs for the slides they developed and talked to. We also enjoyed a game of definitions where participants had to define various research terms. This was to highlight the need to start compiling the Glossary of Terms which is Activity 1 in the assignment and will be submitted with the rest of the work on 6th May. Check out this short clip from today's session and we look forward to seeing you at Campus Session 3 on 16th March.

Evening Lecture - Making Public Histories Thursday 18th March 7-8.30pm, at Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, Cat Hill

Free Event for Students

David Heathcote is a design historian, writer, curator and broadcaster.
In this lecture he will discuss the ways in which the requirements of different media – whether exhibitions, television programmes or publications – shape the ways that history can be told.

History is almost invariably something that we gain understanding of through its articulation in the public domain. Most historians, however, are woefully unprepared for the work necessary to convert their research into something that the public can read, listen to or view.

Historians rarely suspect, when venturing from the quiet world of the University into the realm of public history, that what awaits them are a vast array of good reasons as to why what they want to state cannot be conveyed as they propose. From the length of lines and legal constraints on seemingly innocent material to the necessity for the historian to appear naked before the audience to tell the story, the public realm has much in common with the gladiatorial arena.

Booking form: http://www.moda.mdx.ac.uk/docs/flyers/makepublichistory.pdf

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Comparing biographical sources

Here are two contrasting sources of the same subject, Bob Fosse, to reflect upon. Each of them tell us something. It would be good to decide for yourself what question is each source trying to answer. The first is Bob Fosse's Obituary in the New York times. The second is an interview (and commentary). This data source has an added dimension in that visual data is available for us to interpret alongside non-verbal data.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Biographical Data

Some research may draw on biographical data for evidence. One source of biographical data is the obituary column. Certain facts can be gleaned from such a source. On the other hand it has its limits. It must be considered who wrote the obituary and in the case of the obituary linked to this blog, the author predeceased the subject by eleven years! Obituaries, by their nature tend to take a positive angle of the subject. Here is an example of the recent obituary from the Guardian of Wendy Toye - dancer turned choreographer and director. After you have read it, reflect upon what is missing from it. Answers in the comments column ....

Friday, 26 February 2010

Inspire Topic

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Still trying to find a research topic?

Paula and Peter have posted more helpful advice on this topic recently in advance of the next Campus Session (March 3rd). I came across this journal which is available from our library. The topics that are covered by the journal are as follows:

Studies of Dancers
Dance and Movement
Dance and Music
Dance History and Social History
Folk Dance
Injuries, Fitness and Nutrition Studies
Performance Technique
The Sociology of Dance
The Anthropology of Dance

Perhaps looking at these categories could help you focus on a topic you would like to investigate. For instance under the topic - "Sociology of Dance" is there a relation between type of dance e.g. ballet or hip-hop and social class? Or in relation to dance and music - which came first the music or the dance? Or indeed is there a link between nutrition and dance performance?

PS. I found this journal from the Society for Dance Research web page.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Literature Review

The literature is an important part of learning about your research topic.
Up to now you have had lots of advice on the above. There was Paula Nottingham’s talk at Campus Session 1 on 16th Feb. Her presentation is available from her blog and gives lots of advice on how to find the literature from the resources in Middlesex.
The Middlesex library subject guides list is extensive and you may find yourself consulting more than one of the 43 subject guides. For instance if you are in the discipline of Dance Performance, then clearly you will need to consult the Dance subject guide. However if you wanted to explore setting up a dance school then you would want to consult the Business and Management subject guide as well. Or if you wanted to explore the teaching of dance then you would need to consult the Education guide. Have a look at the list of subject guides from this link and see which you may need to look at. Looking at the list may also help you to think laterally about topics for your research project.
Secondly there is a link to Internet Detective which is an online tutorial to guide you into accessing quality materials on the Web. Thirdly, there is the video clip from Alan Durrant on this blog earlier today.
When you actually find the literature the following points might prove helpful.
1. Skim read by checking the index (if it’s a book), the table of contents, headings and subheadings throughout the piece. The introduction and conclusion would also be helpful to read and then focus in on the heart of the piece.
2. Take notes as you skim read to aid your understanding. Later you can come back to these notes and decide what the article is really about.
3. Read and quickly come to the point where you can you can sum up the kernel of the piece in one sentence – this takes practice.
4. Note the bibliographic citation (Author, Title, Where Published, Date of Publication). Check this following link to guidance on referencing,
5. Decide what contribution it’s making to your topic. What angle is it taking?
6. Then you need to construct a narrative about the literature – check this link from the University of Toronto on how to approach a Literature Review
I heard a former colleague of mine at Queen’s University Belfast (Caitlin Donnelly) describe the literature review very well. She suggested thinking of it as having authors around for a dinner party and in the discussion (about your topic) they each offered an opinion or threw some light upon it. Some were in agreement but others were not. When the dinner party is over you recount the discussion for a friend and that account is the basis for your written literature review.