Conference feedback

Hello Everyone
I just wanted to say thanks for making a newcomer feel very warmly welcome at the recent conference. I have made lots of useful contacts for my studies and will endeavour to contribute positively to the collective life of the association. It was great to view ALAR through the lens of multiple disciplines- an intellectually enriching broadening experience.
Regards and best wishes

ALAR Definitions

BEVERIDGE's picture

Hi All

I have been attempting to define the difference between AL and AR in my research proposal (which I need to finish soon for confirmation).  I used Ortrun's paper (2001) and others in forming my vague impression of the difference. After speaking to Bob Dick about this at the conference, I wondered whether others' in ALARA  had stong opinions about the difference between the two modes of inquiry, whether they'd be willing to share; and whether the difference really matters.

Regards and thanks


Lorraine Beveridge

(new member)

Susan.GOFF's picture

My stance on AR and AL

Hello Lorri

Great question!

I am of a different view to Bob and Ortrun.

It does all depend on how you think about it, and also why you think a difference matters. This question of difference is sometimes eliminated for the hnourable reason of avoiding any sense of elitism which competition between research and learning can sometimes produce. I think the question of elitism has to be dealt with in a more head on fashion than this - as it will pop up elswehere if only sidestepped... and that we shouldn't sacrifice the depth of the field to side step our lack of behavioural grace! (I am waiting for the rotten tomatos to come my way already!!!)... I also get that AL is beautifully simple and profoundly deep and complex when done well... Accordinly I see AL as the core practice for both AL and AR, but I see AR as having a significantly different task. In a nutshell, for me, AL is the microcosm of AR (single cell to the whole body of AR) - which once AL is buit into increasingly complex systems takes on a very different form - because the size and character of the system begins to change the practice from AL to AR. And...

a) AL can be used for compliance as much as it can for emergence - that is, as with VET sector training where AL is used to learn skills by reflecting on experience, it can be used to meet pre-exiting regulations, standards or goals - I would call this a "compliance" approach and the one that is used in corporate management settings in most instances...Not all AL is compliant focussed, some of it can be open ended and emergent, but its origins were based in corporate environments to solve corporate problems related to productivity for example - nd its  a rare organisation indeed that can give its employees a completely open ended opportunity to learn (the new corporate cultures are heading this way - but still rare and - come the day!). So in essence AL can be emancipatory, but mostly it has been and in my view is, used in a compliant way

b) AR on the other hand, being "research" has a requirement to generate insight and new knowledge which cannot be contained by existing constraints... There is cyncisim amongst some that "there is nothing new under eh sun" but we also know that actually new knowledge is developed about all orts of things - which may bring in existing knowledge but that also does that intuitive leap then stands the test of rigour, credibility and/or viability that knowledge must deoneding on the truth tests its authors set for themselves. AL doesn't need to do this, although, AL practices contribute to these requirements in AR approaches.

There is one significant constraint that AR has to accommodate, whatever form of AR is used, which is the constraint of the practical - what works in current living systems. This is not a minor restraint - and I am very open to critique that AR risks conventionalism and compliance with the status quo because of its insistance on validity in the applied science sense. I am also of the view that it is duty bound to first, interrogate its own ontological and epistemological assumptions and practices as well as - second - the constraints to emergent change that the everyday may/always presents.... so it can be said to stand the test of conventionalism in the everday on these two counts - and thus differentiate itself from AL.

c) Which leads me to the other important distinction between Al and AR - the "R" bit requires the art and practice of constructing knoweldge,  (not just aquiring skills) which requires capability with the philsophical, ethical, scientific and aesthetic - AL does not have to construct knowledge for anyone other than the learner and th knwoledge can be that of others in teh case of learning a predetermined skill  ... AR on the other hand has to withstand the rigours of constructing knowledge for public use ... a very different matter

d) Lastly - AL remains pretty much the same practice of action/reflection - sometimes individually, sometimes in groups or sets, sometimes even extended systemically into a system, but the practice remains the same. AR on the other hand involves many other kinds of practices from so many different fields and disciplines - narrative, reflexivity, 1,2,3 person knowing, action space, etc etc...  so many different forms - AL is present in all of them because of the valuing of experiential learning - but AR builds a methodology which incorporates the public responsibilities of knowledge building, as well as problem solving, into a strategy...


Susan Goff

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