I spoke at JISC Digifest 2017. It was lovely to see so many colleagues old and new there.
Jisc had gathered a community of learning technologists and IT specialists and asked us to think about how we might find an evidence base for TEL.
But I do wonder: Should we even try?
There is a real risk to the universities in having the people who are best placed to build and develop excellent new services spending too much of their time of fruitless tasks. I think knowing what kinds of evidence is relevant for which decisions is a leadership skill, and leadership in learning technology is what its all about.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t make evidence-based decisions, or decisions based on data. We need to know the difference between evidence and data. But I think ‘technology enhanced learning‘ might be a red herring. Or possibly a hens tooth. Or may be both.
Even before the Trump era of post-fact and post-truth there were already many people, with strong convictions will not be persuaded by evidence, however well it is presented.
Some times I suspect that people ask for evidence not because they want to make a decision, but because they already have.
Sometimes I suspect that the request for more evidence, and more detail is a stalling or blocking tactic. It is just one approach to resistance. No amount of detail will ever be enough and you’ll spend a long time looking for it.
What I am sure is true is that different kinds of evidence persuades different kinds of people in different kinds of decision-making and we need to be smart with that. The kinds of evidence that persuades users to use the tools, is very different from evidence budget-holders need to make decisions on spend and buy the tools in the first place.
The evidence-base is not the same as the business-case.
So, In summary: Should we spend more time assembling an evidence base for technology enhanced learning?
I vote No. The opportunity cost is too great. It would have to be so broad, yet so detailed to convince university lecturers it would be quickly unstainable. It would be backward looking and the data unreproducable. It would have little useful link to the real, real-time decisions being made for investment for the future. We should not waste that time, we have more urgent things to do.
If you are working in a learning technology role the University of Edinburgh is committed to supporting your professional development. I am delighted to announce a new university wide scheme supporting CPD for staff working with learning technology. Our aim is to support colleagues working in schools, colleges and ISG to become CMALT accredited.
CMALT is Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology – you submit a portfolio describing and reflecting on your work and linking to relevant evidence. The training and support you can access via the CMALT programme will ensure that you stay up to date with best practice and maintain strong links for career progression.
If you join our scheme now you will be supported to complete CMALT by:
* discounted fees
* regular meetings of the CMALT applicants group
* mentoring and support as you put together your portfolio
* access to organised writing retreats
For more information contact Susan Greig in LTW now.
I completed my CMALT portfolio a number of years ago. I’m hoping my co-chairing OER16, judging the Learning Technologist of the Year competition and supporting the roll out this scheme at University of Edinburgh will help me to maintain my good standing.
Four score and seven hours ago I arrived at the NMC conference. I am learning a lot about maker spaces and how they are used by libraries and universities to support the development of digital skills.
The University of Edinburgh is committed to people development and digital skills. With apologies to Thomas Jefferson:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all members of the University are created equal, that the University is endowed by our benefactors to deliver certain unalienable acts, that among these are teaching, learning and the pursuit of research.–That to secure these activities, IT Services are instituted among (mostly)men, deriving their just powers from the consent of PSG –That whenever any form of IT services becomes disconnected from these ends, it is the Right of the directors to alter and restructure it, and to institute new IT/digital skills training laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect your Safety and Happiness online.
Actually, what our University’s people strategy 2012-16 says in relation to new technology is:
“The rapid technological developments in the modern world demonstrate the need to be able to review our approaches to teaching and research on an ongoing basis…… The challenge is not only to be able to invest in the continual costs and development of our technology, but to be aware of the potential of new and emerging technologies, so that we can exploit them effectively. Ensuring that staff know as much about these technologies and their capabilities as our students is vital.
We require the skills to use these technologies in new and differing ways, in order to maximise their benefits across our varied areas of work, significantly enhancing our efficiency. To this end, we need to embed digital literacy and digital wisdom across our workforce, to cover the breadth of our activities and functions.
The role of technology in undertaking research and delivering teaching will continue to change and may transform the manner in which teaching will be delivered in the future.
……. By increasing the skills of our workforce in the use of digital technologies, we will also embed good practice by ensuring good health and welfare is an essential consideration, in moving to new ways of working and learning”
Information Services currently has an IT skills training team of about 6 people, but the manager post is vacant. The plan for this summer is that that team will join LTW services division and we will begin the search for a new head.