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In the last few weeks I’ve been appointed as an associate lecturer (aka tutor) for the Open University.  I am going to be tutoring on TU811 “Thinking strategically: systems approaches for managing change” which I studied myself back in 2010.  My studying of TU811 preceded the launch of Just Practicing so I may end up blogging about the approaches as I re-discover the module materials – backfilling a gap in this blog!

Since I’ve been appointed I’ve been on induction – induction at a distance given that it is the OU.  It’s involved reading and watching short video clips about my duties and responsibilities, trying to master the ‘tech’ I will need to use, and, becoming familiar with procedures and resources.

I’ve realised that I am entering into a new (to me) ‘community of practice’ – let’s call it the practice of ‘educating at a distance’/’distance education’ particularly as that practice is manifested within the institution that is the Open University.  All the other members of that community are so welcoming – it’s like joining a club.  ‘Educating as a distance’ is in reality a catch all for a number of sub-practices – things like engaging/motivating students, advising students, assessing students, giving feedback and feedforward, running group tutorials.    I’ve been on the other end of this practice as a ‘learner at a distance’ for years, it does feel odd switching perspectives.

But this is a practice – I need to be reflective – what is it I do when I do what I do?   We’ve obviously got a lot of ‘tools’ for this email, telephone, website, collaboration/tutorial software which seem to make up the most of my induction time.  There are also conceptual tools like Kolb’s learning cycle or all the background of social learning I covered in TU812.

What is it that the students need to experience to develop their mastery of systems thinking in practice?  Of course, coming in as a tutor on an established module I am not solely responsible for the answer to that question but I am one of the ‘factors’ that will interact as part of the ‘system’ of learning.  I’m rambling a little – everytime I take ‘downtime’ from the factual induction, I find it is these sorts of questions that are going through my mind.

My landscape of practice has just expanded.  I’m trying to adjust to new boundaries and what those new boundaries mean for things that were already familiar.  It’s an interesting time. 😀


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