Changes are not happening in a vacuum


Nowadays, globalization is a controversial concept and there are different definitions that try to characterize this complex and multidimensional process. However, the literature analysed emphasizes the economical implications of globalization. An example of this emphasis may be founded in the following quotation: “Since the 1980s, the term of globalization has been used to reflect the increasing integration of economies around the world, particularly through trade and the flow of finances” (Merriam, Caffarella & Baungarner, 2006, p. 292). In general terms the notion of globalization has been associated with the transnationalization of the world economy (Delantay, 2001). The idea that economical actors are globally interrelated through networks is one of the most common premises about globalization. Currie (2004) pointed out that “the concept of Globalization is contradictory and contested. However, it is generally agreed that the world economy is integrated in a way that is different from the past” (p.42).

            Despite this emphasis on the economy, globalization is also related to a cultural dimension which is characterized by Wagner (2004) as the emergence of a homogeneous world and the extinction of particular cultural expressions. This cultural change, characterized by the influence of the United States, is known as Americanization or MacDonalization, in reference to the popular fast-food restaurant. As an international student, I can identify how changes have been facilitated by the implementation of neoliberal economic policies. A good example is the change in cultural patterns in my homeland of Chile as society there adopts foreign customs such as celebrating Halloween, eating fast-food at McDonalds or KFC, and shopping at big commercial centers. The political dimension is another important factor related to globalization which is described by Wagner (2004) as “Politically, globalization refers in the first instance to the alleged of the sovereign nation-state” (p.8). I would like to add that globalization is also promoting the implementation of economical policies based on neo liberal agendas by democratic governments.

Globalization as phenomena is not taking place in a vacuum; most societies are experiencing changes in demographic terms, as Merriam et al. (2006) illustrate: “there are simply more adults in our society than ever before and the population will continue to age” (p. 7). In addition to a decrease in the school age population, people are living longer and getting better educated throughout life. Another issue related to population is the increase of diversity and multiculturalism. Due to these demographic changes, decision makers are forced to apply restructuration processes.

picture from :…/Globalisation.htm

Combo Uno, please !

Adams (as cited in Cui, 2008, p.78) described some historical barriers that immigrants have faced in terms of accessing to professional fields.
Access to professions was historically also restricted by gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. The ideal professional practitioner in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was an Anglo-Saxon, White, middle or upper class, Protestant male, and those who did not fit into this category often faced many explicit and explicit barriers. From the very beginning, access was also restricted by country of birth and region of training.
Clearly, some immigrants who come to Canada do not fit into the category described above. Consequently, they are facing discriminatory issues in organizations such as the glass ceiling which has been defined by Werner and DeSimone (2009) “…as a subtle attitudes and prejudices that block women and minorities from upward mobility, particularly into management jobs” (p.508). Particularly, for immigrants these prejudices are justified by the difference between Canadian professionals and foreign professionals. In addition, Cui (2008) wrote “Usually, such difference from domestic norm is viewed as deficient, incompatible and inferior and not up to Canadian standard” (p. 77).
In addition to this prejudicial attitude, some employers do not have enough experience, knowledge and skills to deal with immigrant workers. Werner and DeSimone (2009) wrote “Most organizations are culturally diverse because their employees are from different cultural subgroups (whether gender, race, ethnic origin, etc). But, even if an organization is culturally diverse, it may not be aware of or acknowledge this diversity” (p.510). In order to promote cultural diversity awareness in organizations, HRD practitioners should consider and promote the implementation of management strategies oriented to develop an inclusive environment for all employees.
Developing a more diverse organization, requires a long – term commitment to change, which includes to increase managers’ skills and knowledge in managing diversity (Werner & DeSimone, 2009). However, implementing organizational strategies to promote a more respectful work environment for immigrant workers do not solve by itself the Prior Learning Recognition and Foreign Credential Recognition issues in Canada. It is also necessary to understand and uncover what is actually behind assessing international credentials in Canada.

Have you seen this guy ?

Immigration is one of the major factors in Canada’s economic growth, but successful transition into the Canadian labour market remains difficult for many immigrants, whose skills, knowledge, and experience are frequently under-utilized. According to the Canadian Council on Learning (2008) “data from the 2006 census reveal that among recent immigrants, men earn 63 cents and woman earns 56 cents for every dollar earned by their Canadian-born counterparts” (p.2).

Foreign work experiences and qualifications of immigrant workers are difficult to estimate and assess. Basically, this is because in Canada there are federal and provincial initiatives which are attempting to verify knowledge, skills, experiences and credentials. In addition, there are different regulatory bodies of certification for regulate occupations and professions.

Foreign credential recognition which is defined by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) (2005) as “the process of verifying that the education and job experience obtained in another country are equal to the standards established for Canadian workers” (p.2).

Immigrant workers are facing several obstacles that impede them to have a successful transition and entry into the labour market. According to the Canadian Council on Learning (2008) “these barriers include language skills; lack of Canadian work experience; failure to receive credit for work experience in other countries; and problems related to the recognition of foreign credentials” (p.4). In addition, the cultural differences are a challenge for immigrant and employers. Immigrant workers are unfamiliar with existing workplace cultural norms. On the other hand many employers do not have cultural competencies to allow them to properly integrate the workers.  Another important fact is related to the language and literacy obstacles “for example, the results of the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey revealed that 32% of immigrants have very low literacy skills, compared to just 10% of native-born Canadians” (p.4). Finally, racism and discriminatory practices have also been identified as an obstacle for immigrant workers.

Dreaming of Hope

During the eighthies, when I was a social work student, I found  great inspiration in the life and work of Orlando Fals Borda, he is the father of Colombian sociology  and also  the creator of Participatory Action research. His huge contribution to the Latin  American progressive thinking is invaluable. Fals Borda was a social scientist invoved in Popular Education programs, and his legacy is a permanent inspiration to
building a better society.

Unfortunately he passed away last tuesday.

Still networking

Hello !!

Since writing my last post I have been doing many things. I took a Spring course at U of R, participated in the Chilean Pavilion at Mosaic 2008 , and finallyI finished the last version for my Spanish thesis in Educational Informatics. At the same tame I continued working on my Spanish blog and my Facebook’s network. During my last Spring course I met two of my former online’s classmates. Then, I have come to realize how our  Alec Couros’s course experience impacted our way of experience the teaching and learning experience.

 The power of networking is real, even though I am not in touch with our EC&I 831 network, thanks of my experience in that course I knew George Siemens’ learning theory.  The Connectivism’s  father is preparing a Fall open on line course about Connectivism at the University of Manitoba. I am not really sure if I can fallow this course, because my regular courses at U of R will keep me busy. However, I believe in the power of Networking and you can always learn something new, even in an informal way. I am especially interested in this experience because a group of Spanish learners are building a community about Connectivism. This can be a great experience to learn more about active networks in my first language.


The Network is Change, then change is learning..

I was thinking about this post for the last few weeks since I finished our online course. We built a dynamic and heterogeneous network, but “What has happen with our network after our course ended?” If we assume that each student was working as a unique node, consequently when each node stopped working the network will disappear. However, this idea is too simplistic. In my opinion, the network is changing, as each student is working and building different networks today. Then, our network is not finished, it is just changing.

I think that is impossible to define how this change will occur; this is a fascinating idea about networking online.


George  Siemens


Is the lack of face to face contact a limitation ?

                                                                                        Picture by Cindy

As we were sharing in our last online session, there are many challenges using technologies in online experiences. In my opinion, we built a dynamic and heterogeneous network. In this network each person works as a node which offers a unique and interesting point of view reflected on personal blogs, digital projects, etc.

I was reading about online education experiences and one common challenge is the lack of face to face contact among students and teachers. Different authors suggest that the lack of face to face contact can produce student’s isolation and lack of motivation. Although, once I was talking face to face with Alec (our instructor) I don’t consider the lack of face to face contact as a big limitation during our online course.

Perhaps, the use of synchronous online tools such us video conference, chats and more dynamic web site contribute to a better interaction and communication among the actors of a learning experience. Also, the implementation of collaborative projects related with active learning theories promotes the student’s independency.

Perhaps, the lack of face to face contact’s consequences (isolation and lack of motivation) is more common in online experiences which reproduce teacher centered model of learning.
Using the technologies advances which facilitate the online contact through images, sound and text is not enough. Also, it is really important the educational design inspired in active and cooperative models.

All Ideas are welcome!!