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ProPEL Conference 2014: Professional Matters: materialities and virtualities of professional learning

July 2, 2014

It_is_all_in_the_questions_we_ask_fenwick_propel2014Last week I attended the very inspirering ProPEL Conference 2014: Professional Matters: materialities and virtualities of professional learning. 

I recommend tjecking out the programme booklet with abstracts as well as the ProPEL homepage with (among other) link to their new blog.

Going back home from attending a conference allways make me think: “what was the important stuff I bring with me back?”

In this case it has different forms, some of which was gained through participation in the conference twitter #2014propel dialogues. For instance: “Pedagogies of noticing” was something I had never heard of before. I definitely will look more into this, as I believe that this relates very much to the paper I presented at ProPEL, and furthermore to the paper I have presented in May 2014 at the Designs for Learning Conference.

Also, I brought a new book “Reconceptualising Professional Learning – Sociomaterial knowledges, practices and responsibilities” (Fenwick & Nerland, 2014) back with me. At a glance it looks extremely relevant and interesting. The introduction has already convinced me that it is going to be a read worth while.

Tara Fenwick held a captivating opening speech emphasizing the importance of the questions we ask as researchers. I noted two important questions:

– What is professional knowledge and capability becoming in this era of rapidly changing work?

– How can education better support this becoming?

I was happy that the paper I presented at ProPEL seemed to fit right in, and it also received quite positive response and spured interesting questions to pursue further. The paper is related to our VIOL project, focusing on welfare technology, innovation, care and learning:

“REFURNISHING SENSIBILITY BUTTONS – MOVING PROFESSIONAL CONTEXTS OF KNOWLEDGES AND ENGAGEMENTS WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES

Welfare technology is taking up increasing space in health care debates, policies and professions in Denmark and worldwide. In Denmark, recent national and municipal health care strategies emphasize a radical refurnishment of the health care sector. Telemedicine, telehealth and homecare, empowerment and citizen-centric approaches are invoked as passages to the innovation of future health care practices.New actors in these health care movements are concepts like “epital” (virtual hospital), “telemedicine”,“telemonitoring”, “outmitted” and “self treating” patients. All of these movements are associated with what it implies to be working with and focusing on welfare technology. Digital technologies are seen as central actors in working with welfare technology in the professions, and central actors in forwarding the so-called new health care paradigm. In Denmark, recent research into developments of the nurse profession state that nurses increasingly experience rapid introduction of new digital technologies into their daily work practices. When it comes to the physiotherapy profession, there is a lack of knowledge about recent developments in the health care sector, and its implications for the physiotherapy profession.

In 2002 empirical philosopher Annemarie Mol stated that the new meaning of “is” is situated. Being is situated. In this spirit, welfare technology is basically about (rapidly and digitally) changing the sociomaterial configurations of health care situations – that is moving the “is” of health care practices.This paper places professional sensibility towards sociomaterially shifting contexts of knowledges and engagements as a central literacy related to the new emphasis on digitally/tele supported health care practices. With the new health care movement, we foresee increasing needs for professionals that are able to navigate between and continuously develop new professional sensibilities, related to the rapid changing situations of the professional knowledge and engagement spaces.This foregrounds being able to professionally sense and provide answers to this question as increasingly important: what are the specific implications for the professional knowledge and engagement spaces,when introducing this or that digital technology into the health care situation? Engaging with this question presupposes professional relational sensibility towards practical (sociomaterial) arrangements of alternative health care practices, and towards their implications for enacting variations of good and bad passages to the “is” of health care practices. In other words, this paper also places an argument for the increasing importance of comparative literacy in the health care profession. This is presented as“professional relational comparative sensibility”.

The paper refers to a large ongoing professional education development project at University College Zealand (UCSJ) in Denmark. The project is called Welfare Technology, Innovation, Care and Learning. It runs from January 2013 – December 2014, and includes developing welfare technology related teaching and learning practices in and across eight professional bachelor programmes at UCSJ. The project’s ambition is to further develop educational programmes in order to better raise students’ “technological literacy”.

This paper takes point of departure in the ongoing refurnishment of the health care sector, and relates these movements to two case examples from the first empirical phase of the project (January 2013–August 2013). The two cases provide different analogies to what it means to “refurnish sensitivity buttons”. The first case “health clinic and digital patient portfolios” is from module eight at the Bachelor of Physiotherapy Degree Programme. The second case “virtual rehabilitation” is from a Danish health center. The empirical gatherings are methodologically inspired by Annemarie Mol’s approach to praxiography. After a discussion of praxiography as a methodological approach to engaging with technological literacy (in this instance), the paper places technological literacy in relation to professional education in general, and more closely to the Physiotherapy Degree Programme in Denmark and at UCSJ. Thereafter, the paper presents the two cases, and refers to Moser and Law’s concepts of “extension”, “specificity”,“passages”, “bad passages”, “better passages”, as a means to engage in a relational comparative sensibility towards the shifting contexts of knowledges and engagements in physiotherapy practices.”

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