Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Do we Have time to Learn?

image: Mary Seacole Building, University of Salford

Whilst catching up on a few of my favourite blogs for new posts, I came across a recent post by Sarah titled "Do we have time to learn" which considers how we often cite lack of time as a barrier to development and learning. Sarah goes on to examine the issues of whether learning should take place in work time or in our own time (interesting to see that this is an issue in New Zealand as well as the UK). I was seconded to COT for 18months during 2004/2006 where my role was to develop the Post Qualifying Framework and to consider how to guide and enhance the CPD of the members of the organisation and at that time many comments and queries were about who should be responsible for learning.
In this seconded role I also considered issues of how we learn and began to help distinguish between Formal learning (programmes of study, workshops, short courses etc and Informal learning (Learning resulting from daily life activities related to work,family or leisure). It is not structured in terms of learning outcomes, learning time or learning support and typically does not lead to certification. Informal learning may be intentional (blogging maybe?) but in most cases it is non-intentional. In this way I was aiding OTs in considering all these aspects of their development in order to be ready for our first HPC audit of CPD for re-registration in October next year when 2.5% of the register will be selected for audit.

Sarah's post also reminded me of my own recent CPD activities where I have been engaging in experiential learning of web 2.0 applications. I have spent many hours late into the evening blogging and skype-ing, networking with peers from around the world which has been both tiring and illuminating. Yet often I hear from colleagues commenting that they don't have the time and/or the energy to engage in same or similar activities, or jokingly been referred to as a computer geek or equivalent. I have accepted these comments for their face value which has on the whole been humerous and tongue in cheek - but I think there is a deeper issue here, and one that I have often felt frustrated by. I reproduce here a comment from Sarah's post which I think maybe hits the nail on the head (for "nurse/midwife" subsitute OT"):

"When thinking about priorities, we have to ask ourselves the hard questions. For example, how many hours do we spend watching television? How valuable is watching 'Wife Swap' compared to having a conversation with a midwife or nurse in another country on Skype?....
Blogging, sharing and collaborating in wikis, communicating with Skype and Facebook is not a 'waste of time' nor is it an luxurious 'extra', of limited relevance to computer geeks only. So I would reiterate the question asked by Kevin Shadix in response to a post by George Siemens about the importance of taking time to consider one's personal learning networks:

"how can we NOT afford the time?"

I pose the same question here as Sarah, maybe we need to reasses and explore our own attitudes to learning. What do you think? Are you ready for the audit in just over a year's time?

And on a final note I offer this short video by Clay Shirky to watch and enjoy - I believe he makes his point well - what do you think?

College of Occupational Therapists (2006) Post qualifying framework: a resource for occupational therapists. (Core.) London: COT.


Graeme said...

Learning in my own time is a topic dear to my heart and one I have strong views on. I would not consider doing an eLearning course instead of watching favourite TV program (mine is Dexter) as a waste of my time, BUT I would consider it a tax on my work/life balance if it was a requirement for promotion in my work or as an essential part of my work skills. Here, it should be built into and compensated by the employer.
I believe that we too frequently sacrifice our own time in an effort to complete marking, or answer emails from remote students and our employers take advantage of our 'going the extra mile' so that it then becomes something we routinely do.

Work out who you are doing this for then prioritise.

Angela said...

Hi Graeme
some good advice definitely, but I guess it all boils down to the age-old skills of prioritisation, flexibility and time management.

Sarah Stewart said...

Time management is certainly a key issue, which I think I was trying to get at in my post. What I would like to see us get away from (in health) that our employers 'owe' us time for this and that. Yes, sure, they do to a certain extent. But we also owe ourselves, our clients and our professions to do PD etc in a timely way, instead of doing nothing but make excuses why we cannot do things.

Anonymous said...

You knew I couldn't resist this one!!
I am passionate about learning in and of itself - I am an unashamed information junkie.
I think we have both a personal and professional responsibility to continue learning using multiple methods to develop both knowledge and skills.
I think that this needs to be supported both by employers but is also something we need to prioritise.
I spent vast amounts of time pursuing learning out of 'paid work' time, and I've yet to receive a single payrise on the basis of my recognised learning (MSc, or the PhD I'm enrolled in!). So I guess I'm somewhat addicted to learning just for itself.
But I am certainly with Graeme when he talks about not wanting to use personal time to achieve routine activities such as marking. I don't mind email responses etc as much, but I'm quite clear about my need to maintain a good balance of work, leisure and self care!
I think employers can reflect on the added value that maintaining lifelong learning in multiple sphere has for the organisation. I think we can reflect on the added value working for an employer can have on our ability to achieve other things in our life!
I think I'll ponder and post on this in a couple of days - thanks for a thought-provoking post!

Sarah Bodell said...

Like most people I learn best when I am interested, engaged and find the subject to be meaningful. The I can put in hours and hours and learning becomes a "hobby" as happened during the development of our MSC in Advanced OT.
I have been interested though to observe other peoples reactions to my "hobby". They have ranged from interest and enthusiasm to comments along the lines of "you must be mad" to looks of mild pity amidst reference being made to my poor time management skills or work/home delineation.