Professionalism has been considered a crucial element of life, especially in the business world. Etymologically, the word profession comes from the old French and Latin word of professioun meaning “vows taken upon entering a religious order”. In old times and recent times, when one tries to enter a new setting such as a religious group, school or work, one should declare obeying the rules, principles not only it is a requirement of the setting but also is a sign of dedication referring to the wows in the original definition. With the industrial revolution which enhanced the importance of labour, work and business life, professionalism started to gain popularity as a means of quality. That said, if you are professional in what you do, that must be something of quality. The more it has become one of the most wanted characteristics in life, people started to emphasize the ways of being professional. Authors have been writing books on how to be professional; likewise, in recent times we see Youtubers or influencers, in modern times language, filming videos on how to look professional or how to learn to practice it. Affecting all the areas of life, this concept has been inevitably affecting education at most.
Education, being primarily related to school, learning and teaching, has started to be the main focus of professionalism. Schools are the most appropriate settings to teach students how important professionalism is for their future. First practices were mostly on obeying the rules such as using the correct grammar, writing legibly, speaking respectfully. In time, as businesses have transformed their perception of work, people started not only adapting to the new rules but also developing their own rules so-called principles to be appreciated by others. Right now, when we ask the idea of the others about someone and get the response that they are very professional, we tend to think they are fair, dedicated to what they do and have their own principles to guide them for the better. It is not surprising to see companies recruiting people to train the other employees towards professional development. At school settings, teachers are offered professional development seminars to make progress in their careers by learning how to contribute to kids more. 21st Century has been asking people to gain more skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. Those skills have become the indication of teacher professionalism and urged teachers and school heads to set up their own professional learning communities (PLC). Colleges, universities have recently started to instil those values in their students via the school of education programs. Seattle Pacific University`s School Of Education encourages graduate students to actively engage in collaborative activities with their PLC members in the Digital Education Leadership Masters program. Graduate students are responsible for assisting each other, sharing feedback and helping others to see the different perspectives, which is basically the practice of professionalism.
As time changes and the world progresses, the concepts change as well and the concept of professionalism did too. Rather than changing, it is better to use transforming as a term of changing for the better. Technology has made mobility and accessibility our essential elements while working. It is quite common to see people giving priority to those before starting to work. Professions have been created to ease mobility and to be accessible to everyone to save more time to be available for other tasks to achieve multitasking. The global COVID 19 pandemic has made the need for accessibility more visible and transformed mobility into digital mobility, that is, people don`t need to be physically present much as they did in the past. Contacting people on video calls, setting up a start-up on a shared online doc, following the news with a click have become our daily life routines. As we transferred our environments to the digital world, professionalism has transformed itself into digital professionalism which I would like to call e-professionalism.
It would be too utopic to claim that using technology is sufficient proof of professionalism in the digital world as it is only one of the keys to adopting 21st-century skills. Besides, it brings up new values to acquire. E-professionalism, just like professionalism, has the same roots of having principles and becoming dedicated to them in different ways. As people are trying to maintain their stand in traditional professionalism, they need to maintain their e-professionalist stand as well. For this purpose, it is ideal to keep those 5 principles to maintain our e-professionalism In the digital world:
There is a massive amount of information available online; however, while everyone is a potential information producer, there is no guide to show us the accurate one or what kind of information we actually need. Therefore, life with its own dynamicity gives us the role of a critical thinker. Critical thinking requires brainstorming on the ideas, alternatives and plans to find a solution, to come up with one`s own path. To be an e-professional, it is essential to analyze the resources before we make use of them. Pondering on which resource is reliable with accurate and valid information and whether it is what exactly we need turns one a critical thinker at all fields in their lives, thus, an e-professional in digital life.
Consumerism has been a serious issue in our lives. Like materials, as time goes by and now faster with the technology, information and resources have deadlines as well. What one knows for sure may get falsified on the next day, as the world is becoming the world of experiments and research studies to progress. Consequently, the more staying up to date becomes a challenge the more the habit of rushing to catch up with recent changes becomes fundamental. Being an e-professional urges people to investigate in order to find valid data before they start processing since validity will provide us with pretty accurate conclusions. Thus, accurate conclusions will ease the ways of reaching out the solid results and setting up the precise approach for prospective studies.
The changing world causes people to change ideas as it is time for adapting ourselves to the changes. However, focusing on a specific topic might be of taking a side to support. In those cases, e-professionals are expected to maintain their advocacy on the topic they are discussing. Switching between ideas or supporting the trend just because it is the trend will sadly prove the point that one is actually far from being an e-professional. Nonetheless, presenting diverse ideas without taking a position is a good illustration of objectivity, which is a sign of professionalism as well. The point of consistency is to maintain supporting your side if you take a side.
The modern world has turned almost everything into an information source and technology has enabled the information to get as rapid as it can. People have started to hear or even watch everything as it is happening. However, as time goes by fast and we lose track of it, we miss the time of judging the authenticity of the resource most of the time. It is usually the easiest way to believe what we hear and watch as we perceive through our senses which may misguide us. E-professionalists take their time to investigate whether the resource is reliable or not before they make use of it. Realizing the reliability of the resource will make the user feel the safety with the information. In the digital world, in terms of the reliability principle, what is the most highlighted is to detect the accurate one out of the infollution.
As a requirement of identification, we all have our own identification cards and/or passports to be used for formal procedures. We are supposed to keep all those private and even set up authentication verifications like our fingerprints to prevent identity thefts. While we try to protect our physical IDs, now there is another ID to protect: Digital ID. We are all present in the digital world, every account one sets up represents an individual. While, most of the time, it is under our own control to protect ourselves in the physical world, it is not the case in the digital world. Cyber-attacks have been threatening individuals` digital wellness and the statistics show us it is on rise. As Brook, from Forbes, says “Awareness is an important step”, it is the e-professional s responsibility to be aware of the digital dangers and take precautions to maintain the protection of their digital IDs.
A research study conducted by Dianne Forbes at the University of Waikato investigates on finding how professional usage of social media affects prospective teachers. For this purpose, the participants are provided with pieces of reading of cybersafety, proactivity, life-long learning and challenges. Then, they are asked to use social media to connect with their peers to share, discuss and collaborate. To state how effective it was, students gave their feedback as ” Although there were challenges, it would be good to integrate professional usage of social media in teacher education as a coursework” It is also recommended by the students that this application should be used as a summative assessment. The practice of using social media with the emphasis of professionalism, as in the study supported by readings, is a useful way of raising 21st-century skilled teachers. In some cases, there is a misunderstanding that only the integration of digital tools indicates e-professionalism. On the contrary, this is not the case. The research study conducted by Sun Young Lee showed that when teachers are asked to show evidence of teaching performance, they tend to show their integration of technology mostly. What is more, this was mostly the only evidence they reflected, so it indicated that teachers think only the usage of technology is sufficient to demonstrate how professional in their jobs. This critical perception also shows teachers don`t use alternative ways of showing how professional they are, rather, they restrict themselves.
E- professionalism is a snowball getting bigger day by day as technology develops. The more it gets bigger the more it becomes important in our lives as we are living in the information age. It is crucial to keep in mind that world citizens have dual identities: physical and digital and it is necessary to keep the digital one as safe as the physical one.
Online Etymology Dictionary. (n.d.). Profession. In Etymonline.com. Retrieved November 13, 2021, from https://www.etymonline.com/word/profession
Stauffer, B. (n.d.). What are 21st Century skills? Digital Curriculum for CTE & Elective Teachers. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/what-are-21st-century-skills.
Young Lee, S., (2021) . Showing professionalism: edTPA, technology-mediated observation,
and visual politics in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2020.103234
Forbes, D. (2017). Professional online presence and learning networks: educating for ethical use of social media. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i7.2826
Brooks, C.(2021) MORE alarming cybersecurity stats for 2021 !. Forbes. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckbrooks/2021/10/24/more-alarming-cybersecurity-stats-for-2021-/?sh=3a2abd204a36