My primary research interest is the informal learning undertaken by knowledge workers and the personal learning networks they construct to support this learning. These individuals take primary (and increasingly, full) responsibility for their learning, so it is important to understand their motivations, how their learning skills (for example to identify learning needs, evaluate learning opportunities and recognise learning that has occured) emerge and develop, and how they can be supported.
I believe strongly that learners should be enabled to take control of their learning wherever possible. They should be supported and encouraged to articulate precisely what they want to learn and guided to engage in learning experiences that match both their base knowledge and their identified learning needs. In more formal contexts, learning should (where possible) be focused around creation of new knowledge, with the learning artefacts created serving as evidence of learning, a base for further learning through reflection, and as a point of connection to others with similar interests or learning goals.
At the Caledonian Academy I have been involved in studies exploring knowledge workers' learning practices in the petrochemical and finance industries, examined learning of professionals in mainstream and connectivist MOOCs, supervised a PhD student exploring research student learning by examining their employability development, and specified tools to support knowledge worker learning through a process we call 'Charting'. You can find some of my current and recent work on this site at:
My first PhD student, Elena Golovushkina completed her studies in January 2013 successfully defending her thesis entitled: Employability development in the context of PhD studies: Exploring the views and experiences of key stakeholders publishing papers in IJRD and IJTD on the way. She is now working in Argentina.
You can find traces of me in many places in the web. A good starting point is twitter @cdmilligan (here is my (sometimes malfuinctioning) twitter archive) or my LinkedIn profile. you can also visit my (infrequently updated) professional blog: http://worklearn.wordpress.com/ . The landing site: about.me/colinmilligan provides a comprehensive set of links.
See also my publications page, which links to other professional social networks.
In the last couple of years I have reviewed papers for a range of journals including: British Journal of Educational Technology, Computers & Education, the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Journal of Workplace Learning, International Journal of Training and Development, Learning Media and Technology, and Transactions on Learning Technologies. I have also recently reviewed for the Networked Learning Conference and the European MOOC Stakeholders Summit.
I initially trained as a researcher in Genetics/Molecular Biology: my doctorate centered on developing a method for site selected mutagenesis using the I-factor retrotransposon and differential cloning of cDNAs expressed in the head (but not the eyes) of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. I have worked in the area of learning and development since the summer of 1993 when I was employed to prepare distance learning materials for University of Paisley courses being delivered in Hong Kong. During my career, I have undertaken a variety of roles in Further and Higher Education at various institutions in central Scotland, as well as working in the commercial sector and as a Partner in a small consultancy. These diverse roles have given me a broad range of experience in all aspects of learning and development, particularly where technology can support and enhance the learning process and empower the learner to take greater control of their learning.
I returned to a predominantly research based role as a Research Fellow at the Caledonian Academy within Glasgow Caledonian University in 2007, becoming fully focused on research in 2011. Working in learning and development has instilled in me the belief that research should both advance knowledge and inform practice.
Some of my previous (often more development oriented) work has involved:
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