Making Connections – Phil Candy

April 29, 2008

Phil has a deep background in thinking about self direction and learning. He opened with a quote from Linus (of Peanuts) about the challenge of potential. Which very much applies to the OU (and also OpenLearn). He the led into discussion of the work of Boyer – the scholarship of engagement, and how this is part of the challenge while under pressures and trying to protect our values. Again bringing it back to Boyer and his four scholarships:

  • Teaching,
  • Discovery (Research)
  • Application
  • Integration

Phil brought together the research and integration about drawing in, with teaching and application about disseminating out. He pointed out the need to take part in all four aspects: avoid putting people into a single “box”. He listed pressures that seem to hold back scholarship, but also new opportunities such as outreach, novel learning opportunities, build bridges with outside, true-learner centredness using new technologies. There are also similar challenges and opportunities such as the shift from mode 1 (peer assessed) mode 2 (user assessed).

A broad range of changes were outlined leading to a revist to Boyer’s approach nd how this matters towards how we need to support people training for new types of work. He pointed to Paton – search of the knowledge worker (2005) to show how to combine attributes. The learner’s needs can themselves be mapped back to Boyer’s list – leading back to a more inclusive view of teaching and learning. He pointed out things that could be addressed:

  • Content
  • Structure
  • Teaching methods
  • Assessment
  • Student support
  • Culture of inquiry

His final point was to put up a quote “ not just ‘What does your machine produce?’ but also ‘How does your garden grow?’” Pace (1971).


In his questions and answers – he put the pressure on achieve this in leadership that is charismatic and setting realistic goals.

He was asked whether there ought to be people who are teaching only – his answer was that people should not be locked into single roles, either as teachers or researchers.

He then answered a question about the skills that people need – but do not necessarily see as learning. The language that we used to describe what we do matters in this and then we need people to recognise the cross between life and learning.

The challenge was raised as to how to combine all the pushes on academics with the need for “effective management”. Answering as he said from the luxury of being a critical friend and an outsider, he had now seen that there are effective managers in the world – combining detailed work with genuine interest. For working in universities a shadow infrastructure may help – heads of school, with administrative managers that work well in partnership.


For OpenLearn I felt that this talk was a pointer to the complications and need for diversity that can be partly met by free and open resources. Phil Candy’s comments about how everyone needs to be addressing the four aspects of scholarship (teaching, discovery, application, and integration) sits well with an expectation of self directed learning, but also suggests that we need to put extra effort into making it clear how the resources we provide can fit into such a framework.


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