More on ‘professionals’ and ‘professionalism’

Boston Legal: lawyers in pants

Originally uploaded by LordKhan

The tutor groups are abuzz with discussion about what exactly is a ‘professional’ and indeed an ‘elearning professional’. Our tutor doesn’t let things lie, and reckoned that if we as burgeoning elearning professionals don’t see ourselves on a par with more traditional professions, is this not a problem. Here’s my 2c.

From looking at various contributors’ reponses across many tutor groups, it seems difficult not to include remuneration in definitions of professional (as opposed to ‘professionalism’). If we look at the established professions such as law and medicine, and we seek to place elearning on the same plane, it doesn’t seem to work.

What’s the difference?

1) Gatekeeping: the traditional professions don’t make it easy to get in. Apart from the qualifications, being published, experience (so far, the same as ourselves), there are also quite protracted periods of study, formal networking/ritual (a friend of mine who is becoming a barrister in Ireland must attend a number of dinners and speak to ’superiors’ using quite antiquated terms), and indeed costumes. It’s difficult to get into these professions (I wonder how many doctors there are with non-acquired disabilities?). Elearning is rather easier to get into (indeed many seem to have found themselves in it somewhat accidentally!)

2) Remuneration. The traditional professions are generally very well paid. If we look at some of the characteristics of a professional as collected by Warrior, we might have to stretch them in order to includes athletes, some of whom are described as being professionals. Certainly a professional boxer also pays his/her dues, spends time improving his/her abilities and may even be involved in progressing the sport, but when we talk about sports people being professionals, it’s usually about the money. Sadly, elearning professionals (in line with others in education) generally cannot command as much as our friends in law and medicine do.

Of course we could go to the free market and sell our knowledge there, but if we make some money out there is it not down to our business acumen rather than our elearning skills?


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