dealing with relationship breakdowns

Picture taken by me of a projector at the National Museum of Scotland. No rights reserved by me.

This is the session I’ll be presenting at ALT Conference next month.  It’ll be filmed and streamed apparently.

edit: Recording here https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2018/sessions/next-expect-locusts-dealing-with-relationship-breakdowns-18-47/

What happens when things go wrong? How resilient is the relationship between edtech and educators when we are tested by strikes, snow and sedition? How do we best learn from critical incidents? Can breakdowns in trust be repaired? What will we do when it happens again?

The relationship between professional learning technologists and academic colleagues is a finely balanced one. Professional learning technologists offer technology solutions to teaching problems and encourage innovations in pedagogy and learning. Learning technologists bring technology into classroom spaces on campus and online and ask colleagues to embrace it. Learning technologists assure academic colleagues them that the technology is there to help not replace them. We ask for trust, understanding, communication. As part of the business, however, our IT services are a key in ensuring business continuity, supporting students beyond contact hours and mitigating the impact of disruption to time and place.

Early 2018 saw an unprecedented period of industrial action at many UK universities. Never before in the 25 years of ALT have so many colleagues protested for so long against their employers, and never before has there been so much technology available to those employers to mitigate the impact of that strike. Where should learning technologists loyalties lie when they are asked to provide systems such as VLEs and lecture recording services which can be used to keep the business of learning and teaching running? When support is withdrawn and communication breaks down what agency do you have?

In addition to industrial action by learning technologists and academic colleagues who are members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) in March we also saw extreme weather events across the UK resulting in school and university closures which left many staff to stay at home and work remotely and many students to access their materials in distance learning mode. As the strikes and the snow dragged on the edtech polices and practise in many large institutions were tested. The UCU were vocal and vexed by the use of recorded lectures with or without expressed permission. Large collections of openly published lectures and learning materials, which had once been hailed as assets of great value came under scrutiny as strike breakers and motivations for institutional support for OER were questioned.

Session content: evaluation and reflection

This experimental and exploratory session will give ALT participants the chance to consider their own ethical positions with regard to strike action, business continuity, policy and practice in educational institutions and learn from insights and lessons learned by the learning technologist community. The session will be of particularly interest to CMALT holders who reflect on their own professional practice and colleagues who hold responsible roles as service owners, service operations managers and senior managers.

It is hoped that this session will be the start of a wider, longer conversation about disruptive events, professional roles, management negotiations, actions short of a strike, and the impact on academic buy-in for technology which disrupts learning and teaching.

Previous, related blog posts

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/03/06/woke/

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/02/22/strike-that/

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/03/07/teach-out/

http://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/melissa/2018/02/28/glue/

References

Schön, D. (2008). The reflective practitioner : How professionals think in action.

Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching : Developing professional judgement. London: Routledge.

Lam, W. (2002). Ensuring business continuity. IT Professional, 4(3), 19-25.

Lecture Capture Emerges as Key Resource for University Business Continuity Planning; Echo360 Sponsors October 1st Business Continuity Planning Webinar for Higher Education. (2009, September 23). Internet Wire, p. Internet Wire, Sept 23, 2009.

McGuinness, M., & Marchand, R. (2014). Business continuity management in UK higher education: A case study of crisis communicationin the era of social media. Business continuity management in UK higher education: a case study of crisis communication in the era of social media. International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, 17 (4). 291 – 310.

Resources for participants

2018 UK higher education strike https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_UK_higher_education_strike

Collective bargaining and Beatrice Webb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrice_Webb

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