A Learning Technologist in 2009 in Higher Education

I've just read an interesting post which has helped move my thinking on a bit. It's "Training" faculty to teach online by Lisa Lane and is about the nature of the usual offerings of "training" on teaching online. She distinguishes between Technical training, which is the mechanics of how to work and navigate a particular tool/artefact, and professional development for effective online teaching where the pedagogies behind them are explored. She says:

The misconceptions about the validity of online teaching are only encouraged by using the word “training”. It implies a false proposition: that instructors need to learn the tools first, and that once they have done so they will develop good online classes. Neither of these is true. Instead, instructors should be encouraged to examine their pedagogy as they begin to teach online, and be provided with extensive technical support as they develop courses based on their chosen pedagogy. And powers-that-be (accrediting agencies, Chancellor’s Offices, and our own colleagues) should be aware that the need is for creating a good environment for encouraging such practices, instead of certifying “training in teaching online”.

The weakness is one of understanding on the part of colleagues and administrators, and, in some cases, lack of meta-cognitive pedagogy (whether online or on-site) among faculty.

There's lots of good points here. Knowledge of pedagogy is lacking, knowledge of the values behind any Learning Technology is lacking, knowledge of Web 2.0 is lacking and personal ICT skills are lacking. These issues are just so huge! Where do you start? Well, the place most people is with the technical training. The problem is this is mostly where it ends. As Lisa argues in her post, perception of online training is often only about how to use a tool. We need more! But this is recognised. Not by the users or the employers.

Thinking about my practice and what goes on in Higher Education, things could be better. A lot of what I do ends up with showing how a tool work (technical training) and we often don't get beyond this. Mostly, people don't want me to go beyond this. Or if they are interested, there isn't the time. Should I force the issue? This depends on what type of Learning Technologist you are. If you are happy reinforcing the status quo, then trying to effect the way they teach isn't on the agenda. If you believe in the spirit of Web 2.0 and think that pedagogies and values behind it can have a positive impact on education then you MUST force the issue.

I think I'm shouting this word at myself more than anyone else. But it's hard. Hard to force the issue, hard to challenge how someone teaches, hard to annoy someone, hard to make your worklife more complex and more difficult than it needs to be.

So being a Learning Technologist in Higher Education in 2009 is all about challenging the status quo. But to do this properly feathers will be ruffled. I need to lie down for a bit!