There are imbalances in the the ed-tech community. I'll find some articles for this and post to a new thread but for this thread, suffice it to say that a quick look at the predominant gender on these forums would suggest that a more wide ranging set of tools might help support a more inclusive moodle community.
I don't seem to be writing this very well...
I don't think that certification is simply a beauraucratic issue. It's also a question of appealing to a wider community. While I agree that in the current 'knowledge' climate "learn-as-you-go" is a much more successful strategy, certification could be a bridge that allows people to get there.
I don't see why, simply because I am a woman, I need "a more wide ranging set of tools" in order to be able to use Moodle. Or perhaps you work with the president of Harvard.
This is on topic... in a sense. I think that the argument for certification is also a social justice issue.
I certainly did not mean to imply that women are in any way physically, psychologically, mentally or socially unable to do anything. What I was referring to was a vast quantity of feminist, postmodern and gender research that shows that due to various kinds of learned prejudice, systemic injustice and long practiced divisions of gender roles, women are an example of a social group that are not encouraged to do some kinds of learning.
I chose women as an example for various reasons. It is easier in a western society to make judgements of gender based on names than it is to make judgements of race or socio-economic status. I assumed that Martin, Stuart, Eduardo, Marcus, Richard, David, Miles, Nicholas, Myles and Marc were men. I took for granted that it was possible that "N." and "W." could be women, hence my usage of the expression "most of the people in this thread".
"There seem to be fewer than ever these days. Just 21 percent of the nation's 3 million teachers are men, according to the National Education Association (NEA). (In America)
This indicates to me that somehow we're missing the boat. Do you have another explanation for the discrepency between the number of female teachers and their participation in technological development. I may not be right, but I think it's important to at least bring up the topic insofar as certification goes.
Equality of access, in my view, is something that needs to acted upon. In my experience, and like i said, 40 years of feminist research will back me up, generally speaking when, for instance, a woman has a problem with a computer, they are shoved out of the way, regardless of the gender of the person who is given the direction. Men, on the other hand, are more often guided, rather than shoved aside. These are generalities that have been observed in our culture. Not a direct reflection on your particular talents.
"N." we all think(at least I hope we do) these social justice issues are important, and while I may be incorrect, I am not in line with "the president of Harvard."
You are making an assumption here that the discrepency is something that needs correcting. I don't want to get off-topic here, but I just want to say whether there is 40 years of feminist research behind it or not, feminist research by its very definition is biased, and I don't agree with it at all.
And you are assuming that all people using Moodle are schoolteachers, if you look at post-secondary education, I think you will notice that the ratio of men to women is the oppposite.
I can accept your argument of different learning styles and it is something that should be taken into consideration, but I don't think that necessarily has anything to do with gender, but rather personal preference. Because if you look around the internet at other types of forums, you will find many women active in them.
Perhaps rather than blame Moodle for this disparity (and I use "blame" losely because I don't necessarily regard it as a problem myself), you should look at the type of people coming to Moodle.org (most of whom are not teachers, but rather people involved in the technology backend), and think about the fact that the people in those positions more often than not are male. So it follows that Moodle.org has more males. If you perceive that as a problem, it has something to do with institutional hiring practices, not Moodle itself.
I do know Martin has plans to expand the space here for teachers to interact in the future, and I would suspect that once that happens, you will most certainly see more female (American at least) teachers at Moodle.org.
Like Dave, I would be reluctant to dismiss feminist research (which does not just have to be about feminism), and like Niki, I don't think you can make any simplistic links between Moodle tools and the gender balance on Using Moodle.
I am wondering if anyone is doing any research on gender aspects of online learning with respect to Moodle. That would be interesting.
Niki makes a fair point about the gender (im)balance in technical jobs.
My colleagues at Salford are doing some UK-based research into this see
THe issue of Women in IT is very complex - and is different at each stage, getting into education, getting a job, getting on in that job, and deciding to stay in that job. Women haemorrhage from IT at all those stages. It's good to ask why.
On the positive side, I see many women Learning Technologists (a term used in UK) at conferences and workshops so not all is bad.
You may also be interested in the gender science Implicity Attitude Test here
which measures sub conscious connections between the genders and science and the arts.
Moodle can now be used to manage similar tests using the TUI module.
I am sexist and believe that there may be physical reasons for the link.
I sort of feel responsible for this sub-thread... I will try to clarify.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that by sexist you mean that there are differences between men and women rather than the other reading of that word, which implies that men are BETTER than women. With that in mind, after a quick loook at the site you quoted it seems to me that the test measures mostly what society has taught the subject. So, for instance, if I was brought up in a society in a tribe where you were judged more attractive dependant on the amount of fat you were able to carry, then I would see attractiveness in that light. The question of physical differences behind prefences and mental capacity, or whether men are good at math, has always been almost impossible to judge because its not possible at the present time to separate social training from 'physical reasons'.
Women in some patriarchal societies are often more demure than women from less patriarchal societies (I've never been to a society that seemed really egalitarian or was matriarchal). Many Asian men, for instance, are threatened by 'western' women because they are more 'aggressive'. Is this a 'physical reason'? I think not.
What I believe is that there are various social reasons why some people are more comfortable with learn-as-you-go peda/andragody. And that for some people AT FIRST, it is more comfortable to have pre-determined goals UNTIL they are comfortable SO THEY CAN THEN DO IT THEMSELVES.
sorry for the caps,
Sorry yes, I do not mean to say that I think that men are better than women (on the contrary...)! By 'sexist' I meant to say that I think that it is likely that some of the differences observed between men and women at the present time are not due entirely to 'social training.' I agree that it is difficult, if not impossible to be sure. And additionally, any 'physical' differences are I believe slight, multidimensional, and considerably less signifcant than the social cultural factors.
The site above demonstrates that the belief that women are less scientific runs deep, and exists even among those that do not profess to hold any such belief. As you say, that is probably predominantly due to teaching.
With regard to your final point, by the way, there is a guy I met in the field of language education that argued, comparing schooling with parenting, that people are predetermined to prefer a period of intrinsically motivated, exploration and assimilation before going on to be given pre-determined goals.
I don't know why I thought you were Niki.
Very interesting point you make
- although lots of learners are happy with an exploratory and organic approach to learning, many others prefer, and indeed feel more comfortable with, a more structured and perhaps linear pathway.
I think you are right in suggesting that a certification programme could assist in providing this framework - even if it is as fundamental as guiding learners through the official documentation available.
I agree, Stuart. Learning styles and motivations for learning vary widely, especially outside of academia. Some seek the gold star on their calendar of chores, some want the solitary satisfaction of the wonder of knowledge and some want three letters after their name. All motivations for learning can be valid and must be appreciated. Certifications for Teachers have a fit here both as a goal and a process.
Many Moodle users are in a position to midwife courses with other teachers who are in need some assitance in the beginning. The certification process could expose them to methods that they may not have used in developing their own courses.
"While I agree that in the current 'knowledge' climate "learn-as-you-go" is a much more successful strategy, certification could be a bridge that allows people to get there."
So you mean givng people a certificate that states they have learned that certificates are not needed for Moodle? I would feel very disappointed if something similar happened to me.
no... What i'm saying is that there are many reasons why people will not want to do this the way Martin has intended. Many people not accustomed to this kind of learning, that is, using forums for advice, trial and error, following pop-up learn as you go instruction, it can be very intimidating (for men and women and people of all walks of life) to try to learn how to use software that tells them they can do it themselves. Others only have partial interest, or believe that the switch to technology is "a waste of their time" or "a gimmick". If you try and take someone with no familiarity with computer software and say "learn as you go" many will lose interest. Teaching tech is not the same as teaching other disciplines, and many people who are quiet successful teaching with tech (wether e-learning, distance education or whatever) can be downright awful trying to teach their coworkers. Not to mention the fact that teaching teachers can be a frightening endeavour, and having a program to back you up when the inevitable "why do I have to learn this" comes up, can be very useful.
I think moodle is a great product. I think I'm going to advise my school to switch over to it but these are some of the difficulties that I'm concerned about. I'm going to have to develop a training program, just to get my proposal passed, but i also think that it serves other purposes,
By the way I split this discussion (not tidily) from a bigger certification discussion.