The aim of this activity is to make us consider the importance of a statement of values or code of practice/ethics. First we looked at the values held by CMALT and we were to consider any values that we not explicitly mentioned but tat we felt were important. I found this rather difficult, as the four values above are quite all-encompassing. I’m certain that this broadness is on purpose and unavoidable due to the hugely diverse group of people under the CMALT umbrella.
Elearning (not that ALT call it that!) is an emerging (and emergent?) profession and so it is rather difficult to set down stringent standards when the profession is still in development. Let’s look to the traditional professionals once more and see if they do things differently.
Predictably, I looked at medicine and law. The Irish Medical Council have a Guide to Ethical Conduct and Behaviour which has some large general principles (respecting the dignity of the individual) but over one hundred very specific ‘professional responsibilities’ such as how to treat colleagues, what material should be on letterheads and personal use of alcohol and drugs.
The Law Society of Ireland has a comparable Guide to Professional Conduct of Solicitors in Ireland. Again, there are a few overarching principles followed by over one hundred pages of highly specific guidelines.
As I’m the one who seems to keep talking about the cold, hard cash, I find it interesting to see whole sections in both of these documents around payment. The HEA’s guidelines make no mention of it.
I thought it might be interesting to look at the codes of practise (if any) of another emerging and diverse ‘profession’, that of the alternative/complementary practitioner. Like elearning, CAM is made up of people who advocate practices that range from the almost integrated (massage, use of PowerPoint) to the more marginal (angel therapy, use of Second Life). Both groups are trying to establish professional associations and have those associations set standards for their own practitioners. http://www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/rrpcam.pdf?direct=1 Chap 3.2). The Code of Practice set out by the Society of Homeopathy in the UK is very similar to that by the Irish Medical Council. No doubt this is partially to appear thorough and credible and as such it does a good job (and that’s coming from one who has very little time for the ‘profession’).
My conclusion is that a set of values/code of ethics is essentially a tool to establish credibility. Law and Medicine (In Ireland, at least) have based their codes on both legislative and self-imposed requirements. The statutory involvement is justified given the very direct and powerful relationship these practitioners who often work in isolation have with people. In education, it’s a little different in that practitioners rarely work individually and belong to institutions which are themselves frequently regulated by legislation and have, by extension, credibility. Private institutions on the other hand have to work very hard to earn their reputations.
The elearning professional also will generally work in an institution and his/her work will contribute to the reputation or standards of the collective. Perhaps given CMALT’s promotion of learning technologists as being at the ‘core’ of teaching and learning, a statement of values should simply be the one used by the institution generally? That there will soon be no relevant or significant distinction between a learning technologist and anyone else involved in learning.