Navigating Academic Transformation – ELI Webinar 3.15.18

Current trajectories in ID/edtech:

The changes in edtech over the last 5 years or so have been hit or miss. I remember when Google Glass was going to be the next big thing, then there were the SnapChat glasses which were only purchased by less than .08% of SnapChat users and in most cases they stopped using them within a month of purchase. Now we are on to bigger things like Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality and I, again, have high hopes for what the future holds.

There have been some incredible hits too. Tools like Voicethread and Flipgrid have improved social learning experiences in digital learning environments. And, when used properly, edtech can be transformational. With great power comes great responsibility! We need more research and to be a part of creating it, we need to be sharing what we are doing (far and wide), and we (edtech advocates, instructional designers, trainers, edtrekkies) need to be seen as trusted partners to the faculty as they navigate the shark infested waters of the edtech space. Yes, I’m talking about the power of the venture capitalists in the space who use up all the oxygen in the room and dominate the narrative in our field.

As good stewards of change, we (educational technologists) need to understand the landscape of edtech. New tools and technologies should be chosen based upon what they can do to improve student learning outcomes, and what they can facilitate pedagogically. We should be researching the effectiveness of our efforts and sharing findings and the evidence with our colleagues. The Jefferson Education Exchange, formerly known as the Jefferson Education Accelerator has turned its attention to this with a focus on implementation.

More than Thought Leadership:

I want to hear MORE not less from our colleagues in the field! I want to read more from the “doers” who are taking risks and I want more stories of failure. It takes minimal effort to tell a success story but it takes guts, no, it takes fearlessness to tell stories of failure. If we knew where the pitfalls were then fewer of us would fall down the hole. There has been much talk recently about efficacy research and telling stories of efficacy in education, but it would be more helpful to know if I was going to step on a nail.

And let’s include student voice in the stories we share! Students have much to add about their needs and wants, let’s weave their voice into the research, the conference presentations, the blog posts, and ensure that students are represented in our collective decision making about what’s next in learning.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we stop telling stories of success and efficacy research, I’m just suggesting that we also need to expand the dialogue to include the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Trusted Partner:

There is a push toward acceptance of instructional designers as peers in the process of developing online curriculum and as guides in the use of educational technology. This trend needs to stay with us. We need to tell success stories of transformation of teaching and learning that highlight the support provided by the unsung heroes of change. The instructional designers, trainers, and teaching and learning centers are often overlooked as change agents when they are critical to these shifts.


What opportunities in teaching and learning should guide and shape our adoption of educational technology?

New models of teaching and learning should always be the driver of edtech adoption. Whether through embracing open pedagogy like Robin DeRosa has done and having her students create and annotate the textbook as they go along, or by strategically layering in new tools to match the pedagogical direction of a program as it evolves and the faculty readiness is there to support enhancements. At the University of Pittsburgh, Katz School of Business, they are beginning to utilize YellowDig and ditching the traditional discussion board model. Who wants to post by Wednesday night and reply to two peers by Sunday when they could curate the best of the web, focusing on a few key topics from the course? This shift to curation which empowers students to own their own individual learning experiences. Students at the center of their learning experience is were we should be focused.

One other area of consideration, that I’d like to address, is the need to continuously improve online and blended programs on an ongoing basis. I heard it said at a conference recently that a university was updating their courses as often as they got new computers. This is educational malpractice in my opinion! There is ALWAYS room for improvement and while it may be curricular changes (is PLUTO a planet today) there are plenty of other reasons to continue to adapt our teaching and learning experiences and this is where the magic happens. As faculty become more adept at teaching online they may be ready to try new models or tools and want to drive their own changes. We as edtech supports for this ever changing faculty experience should be standing by, ready to assist in their transformation as they take the helm.

With all this change, you asked where do we want to end up? I tend to think of this question in the context of my own children and their college experiences. I’d like to see more fragmentation of degrees into smaller pieces that allow learners to choose NOT a career for a lifetime, but rather choose what they want to do for the next 3-5 years. Learning should be more focused on the various stages of a lifelong learner and short bursts of learning are going to be required at differing stages of adult life in order to retool for the next job. These short bursts of learning will need to be digital in order to serve our population and they don’t only need to come from a university. If you want a good example of this, take a look at Salesforce Trailhead! Their collection of free courses (micro-credentialed) is transforming the world of work and retooling & credentialing employees with marketable skills.

Closing Thought: I can’t reiterate strongly enough that edtech leaders such as those on the line and those listening as well as the rest of the EDUCAUSE community, must plan, decide, design, and deliver on these changes that I have mentioned. YOU are the agents of change. We must work together to make sure that these efforts truly impact the outcomes of students and learners!

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