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AI ed tech

Ed tech must reads: Column #36

First published in Campus Morning Mail 24th May 2022

Why is my lecturer a robot now? Using AI-assisted technology to teach from Teaching@Sydney

Some of my recent must reads about the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education might have painted a picture of a looming academic integrity quagmire. There is a far brighter side though to be seen in this post from Anna Boucher, a politics lecturer at USyd. AI-assisted voice technology is helping to mitigate a voice disability that makes it painful for her to speak for prolonged periods. The possibilities for greater equity for both staff and students are exciting.

So you want to create an online class independent of a school from Bryan Alexander

There can be any number of reasons to want to create opportunities for online learning away from organisational systems. Ed tech futurist Bryan Alexander recently posed the question of how to DIY this and this post summarises the wide range of suggestions that he received from the community.

The market fall of EdTech will have non-financial impacts from Phil on EdTech

Noam Chomsky once said that the best way to understand the world was to read the business pages. This post from Phil On EdTech describes the notable downward trend in many EdTech companies over the last year. I’m far from a financial analyst but I would have to wonder whether there was an artificial spike in valuations during the pandemic when online learning was everywhere. What we need to think about is what impact potential sell-offs and mergers of the companies behind the tools we use might have.

Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation from Western University Canada

The diversity of education technologies in the market and wild claims that some vendors make can make it challenging to know which tools to adopt in your institution. There are many factors to be considered in an evaluation process and this guide from Western University offers some straightforward ways to consider some of the most significant from a learning and teaching perspective. It doesn’t cover everything that your IT dept will need but it makes a strong start.

Preparing proposals for ASCILITE 2022 – Webinar Thursday 26/5 The call for papers for ASCILITE 2022 has been made and all around Australasia people with an interest in Technology Enhanced Learning are starting to consider what to work on. This webinar from ASCILITE’s TELedvisors Network brings together conference organisers and the authors of the best paper award winner last year to offer some insights and inspiration. There will also be time for people to discuss ideas and find collaborators.

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ADDIE ed tech edtech higher education Learning design Uncategorized

Ed Tech must reads – Column 15

First published in Campus Morning Mail on Tuesday 23rd Nov

Working paper: What does it cost to educate a university student in Australia from MCSHE & Pilbara Group

One of the common concerns raised (or benefits posited) around online and technology enhanced learning is that it is cheaper than face-to-face teaching and is introduced to cut costs rather than raise standards. People working in the space have argued for years that this isn’t the case (in either instance) but there has been something of a dearth of reliable data about the costs of teaching in HE. This working paper from UniMelb’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education, in partnership with the Pilbara Group, suggests in proud academic tradition that ‘it depends’ – based on degree level and mode. The paper also delves into a range of other factors including discipline, campus location and funding clusters.

Is the ADDIE model outdated or still relevant? From TaughtUp

When I started working in the learning design space, the ADDIE model (Analysis – Design – Development – Implementation – Evaluation) was somewhat considered the be-all and end-all. It offers a useful set of steps for thinking about the creation of a learning resource or activity but also seemed as much a linear project management system as anything else. This article outlines the history of this model and what has come to replace it as development has moved to more iterative AGILE-oriented approaches like SAM (Successive Approximation Model). As with many things, it still has its place.

Digital higher education: a divider or bridge builder? Leadership perspectives on edtech in a COVID-19 reality from International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education

This article examines the use of education technologies starting out from a position that vendors overhype their products but it eventually comes to the conclusion commonly held by people working in the sector that this doesn’t actually matter and a judicious combination of technology, pedagogy and capability building can in fact make a difference in education. Laufer et al. interview and survey Higher Ed leaders from 24 countries for their perspectives on the impact of education technologies in the last two years, covering opportunities and barriers for both individuals and institutions. Well worth a read for the big picture overview.

Webinar – Pathways to Learning Design (and more) – skill or luck? Thursday 25/11 12 noon AEDT

ASCILITE’s TELedvisors Network wraps up the 2021 webinar series with a bang, with Prof. Michael Sankey (CDU) and Jack Sage (JCU) sharing the findings of research they undertook this year into what it takes for people to enter the growing profession of Learning Design (and adjacent roles) in Australian Higher Ed and what the future looks like for these kinds of roles.

Science Fiction is a Luddite Literature from Medium

Respected author in the tech ethics and society space, Cory Doctorow, makes some valuable connections between the Luddite movement of the early 1800s and some key tenets of science fiction – namely that it is generally all about the meaning of the impact of technology on the world than the tools themselves.

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CMM ed tech education design Learning design

Ed Tech must reads – Column 9

First published Campus Morning Mail 12th October 2021

This Former English Prof Built and Sold a Company: Here’s What She Learned from Roostervane

One thing commonly discussed about education technology companies is how well they understand the experiences and needs of teachers and students. One thing commonly asked of academics is how applicable their skills and knowledge are to ‘the real world’. This quick read from Roostervane, a Higher Ed oriented careers site talks through some of the experiences of someone that moved from academia to ed tech and offers suggestions for those interested in this path.

Discussion on consistency in online course design from Neil Mosley (Twitter) 

Ideas of ‘academic freedom’ in terms of how courses should be designed and taught often butt heads with usability principles and institutional priorities when it comes to online learning. This debate is well captured in a tweet from @neilmosley5 and the subsequent string of responses that cover ground include standardisation of courses, Geocities, cognitive load, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and some rather tortured analogies. Well worth a read to tour the many perspectives.

Student Guide to the Hidden Curriculum from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

Starting tertiary study can be a confusing experience for students, particular those who are first in family. There are labyrinthine systems to navigate and new terminology and concepts that are often treated as assumed knowledge. What is a PhD, a journal article, peer review? This guide, while UK-centric, offers clear and well-written explanations designed to support new students in this new world. I absolutely wish I’d had something similar when I started uni. (Thanks Thao for sharing)

Call for contributions – Innovation in Higher Education Assessment in COVID19 from JUTLP

The Journal of University Learning and Teaching Practice is an open publication hosted by the University of Wollongong. They are currently calling for contributions to an upcoming issue relating to innovation in assessment in the time of COVID19. Abstracts are due by Nov 1.

The Dreambank from University of California, Santa Cruz

Most of the time, hearing people recount their dreams can be a little tedious. They don’t fit conventional story structures and the details can be somewhat liminal. This site however, from psychology researchers at UCSC, captures brief (~100 words) retellings of more than 20,000 dreams from people aged between 7 and 74 over decades. It also includes discussions between the researchers and dreamers about the dreams. I spent way too long trawling through these one evening but it is a marvellous window into the minds of people we’d never otherwise hear.

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CMM ed tech game based learning LMS

Ed Tech must reads – Column 6

First published in Campus Morning Mail 14th Sept 2021

The iceberg theory of EdTech: One Laptop Per Child from Gaurav Singh (Twitter) (5 mins)

The One Laptop Per Child initiative is a cautionary tale about what happens when well-meaning thought leaders with compelling pitches for ed tech don’t do due diligence and actually ask the people on the ground if their idea will work. OLPC was a project to manufacture and give robust, crank powered laptops to young learners in the Global South to help them eLearn out of poverty. This Twitter thread from @gauravsingh961 forensically works through the details of the failure of this project as a case study against the ‘tech as silver bullet’ mentality.

How Learning Technology Can Help from Education…technically (6 mins)

Rolling out a learning technology is only part of many when it comes to good digital education. The Scottish pivot to online learning in Higher Ed due to COVID19 was the focus of a recent government taskforce there, and Chris Kennedy discusses the vital support component of it in this blog post. While there was a sensible decision to lean heavily on JISC resources, he notes the virtual absence of input from expert professional support staff, subsequent proposed cuts in support to achieve efficiencies, and an expectation that educators will add a suite of digital learning capabilities to their quiver in their free time. In terms of understanding how some of the powers-that-be understand 21st century education, this post is eye opening.

How dark patterns trick you online video from Dark Patterns (7 mins)

User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) has come into its own as a discipline in the last decade or so in helping us to understand how we use the web and how to design better and easier interactions. The shadow side of this – “Dark Patterns” – sees business and designers exploiting these principles to make users do things that they didn’t mean to using design tricks and cognitive science. This video explains some of these common tricks and the site overall offers some valuable tips to deepen our digital literacy.

“The end of Blackboard as a Standalone EdTech Company” from Phil on EdTech

While the title of this article veers toward the dramatic, the recent merger of the Blackboard LMS company and Anthology, a company with products on the student management, enrolment and retention side of things is kind of a big deal. This article walks through the details of this merger with somewhat of a business focus but it also discusses possible implications for particular platforms and institutional users. Given that Blackboard still has approximately a third of Australian LMS market, this is something useful to stay on top of.

Games for Change Asia Pacific Festival Oct 5th – Oct 7th

On a slightly more cheerful note, the expanded Games for Change festival is coming up in early October. This free online event offers more than 80 speakers talking about different ways serious games, game-based learning and other associated technologies are being used in tertiary education and beyond to help build a better world. It includes a mix of presentations and interactive workshops.

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CMM ed tech mooc

Ed Tech must reads – Column 5

First published in Campus Morning Mail 14th Sept 2021

Helpful tips for Hybrid teaching from Dr. Jenae Cohn (Twitter)

Hybrid or hyflex is one of those new modes of teaching that have seemingly materialised fully-formed in the last 18 months. It involves concurrently teaching face-to-face and online students, creating opportunities for them to learn and work together synchronously. This short thread from Dr. Jenae Cohn on Twitter offers some useful practical tips for teachers newly working in this space, including not referring to online participants as “people who are not here”.   

Australian Educational Podcasting Conference – October 6th and 7th

Audio offers an accessible and oftentimes more intimate way to connect with information. With lower technical barriers to entry for podcast creators than video, educators are embracing this format as a way to share and discuss ideas in a range of disciplines. The free Australian Educational Podcasting Conference returns on October 6th and 7th, with discussions about how people are using podcasts in teaching and practical workshops.

CAUDIT Higher Education Reference Models from CAUDIT

CAUDIT is the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology. If you work at a member university, you can login to access a number of standard models that show how IT departments understand the many business and data aspects of a university ecosystem. At first glance this may seem a little niche, but for anyone with an interest in truly understanding how all the pieces fit together in a university, this is an invaluable resource.

The edX Aftermath from eLiterate

A couple of months ago, the open Harvard/MIT led MOOC platform edX announced that it was merging with the giant OPM (Online Program Management) business 2U. This represented a fairly significant swing to a more commercial orientation for a platform with lofty aims. Michael Feldstein from eLiterate has some strong feelings about this, in this informative article taking us through what has happened in the MOOC space since the big hype MOOC hype cycle of the early 2010s, and discussing what the next moves could and should be.

Is your smart fridge judging you? From Dan Hon (Twitter)

Finally, this amusing thread from @hondanhon on Twitter details some strange feedback he recently received from his Internet connected smart fridge.

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academic development CMM ed tech Learning design research

Ed Tech must reads – Column 4

First published in Campus Morning Mail 7th Sept 2021

Facilitating online breakout groups from Dave Cormier

Good breakout group activities online are far less common that we might hope. Often students find themselves sitting quietly in a small Zoom room, unsure what to do, until one brave soul hazards a guess and starts the conversation. This 7 min YouTube video from the Office of Open Learning at the University of Windsor (Canada) offers some valuable ideas to ensure that the time spent in these sessions is productive and that help teachers track activity across all rooms at once. It is demonstrated in Blackboard Collaborate but the principles are universal.

The Australian Ed Tech directory from EduGrowth

This site provides links to more than a hundred Australian businesses working in education technology and adjacent spaces. It appears to be focused more on the business and investment side of things as there is an option to filter by sector and export market but not by the kinds of tools or services they provide. All the same, it is an interesting way to get an overview of how the market perceives the needs and priorities of the education sector.

Forget lone lecturers – pandemic shows teaching must be a team sport from Times Higher Education

Neil Mosley succinctly outlines the complexities of modern tertiary teaching practice, with ‘the new normal’, ever increasing accountability requirements, and a constantly evolving technology landscape making it hard for time poor educators to keep up. Institutions have skilled and experienced teaching and learning support teams ready to assist, yet many lecturers still choose to go it alone. Mosley explores why this might be and shares some new ways to resolve this. The article offers an informed, practical counter to some of the sadly ignorant takes on these support systems and professionals that we still see in the discourse far too often.   

Manifesto for teaching online webinar Tues 7th Sept from CRADLE

CRADLE at Deakin is one of the foremost research centres in Australia in the digital learning space, and the University of Edinburgh is also a heavy hitter. This webinar today brings them together, with Professor Sian Bayne discussing Edinburgh’s updated Manifesto for teaching online, which advocates for “strongly reseach-based, critical and creative practice” in modern teaching.

Tortured phrases in published research from @big_science_energy on TikTok

Plagiarism is as much a known problem in research as it is in learning and teaching, but the use of AI as a writing tool to bypass ‘traditional’ similarity matching systems is starting to result in some bizarrely humorous language in published papers. This quick TikTok video discusses a recent research paper about this phenomenon, which sees established terms like Artificial Intelligence morphing into ‘counterfeit consciousness’ instead. 

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academic integrity assessment CMM ed tech tools transcription

Ed tech must reads – column 3

Originally published in Campus Morning Mail 31st Aug 2021

Identifying, Evaluating, and Adopting New Teaching and Learning Technologies from Educause Review

The most common questions/complaints that I hear as an education technologist from academics wanting to use a new tool in their teaching revolve around the time it takes to add them to institutional systems. “But the nice salesperson told me that it only takes 30 mins to install – why has it been 6 weeks already?”  This article from Pat Reid draws back the curtain on many of the things that need to happen behind the scenes to ensure that an education technology is fit for purpose, supportable and will work with an institution’s many needs. It offers some useful insights into the practical realities that are frequently overlooked in most discussions of learning technologies.

Ranking Multiple-Choice Answers to Increase Cognition from The Effortful Educator

Multi-choice quizzes are a mainstay of online learning because they provide opportunities for learners to check their understanding of course material without the workload overhead to teachers of manually grading hundreds of responses. Legitimate concerns are raised though about whether MCQs test recall vs understanding and how authentic they are in relation to use of knowledge in practice. This post draws on research in the cognitive sciences to suggest an alternative approach to MCQs, asking students to explain why they think the options are right or wrong. There are clearly workload implications but it’s thought provoking.

Meet the man behind Tveeder, the no-frills live TV transcript that became an Australian media hero from The Guardian

Captioning and transcription of video for accessibility and also as a learning resource has come to the fore in recent years. Tveeder is a Melbourne based tool that aggregates the captioning feeds from Australian free-to-air TV in real time, for free. Given that many people parse text more quickly than video, and prefer to do so, this offers a handy resource for capturing relevant, real-world information that could be used in many teaching scenarios

Myth No More – Student Blackmailed by Cheating Provider from The Cheat Sheet

This email exchange between a student and a contract cheating service, shared by academic integrity newsletter The Cheat Sheet, highlights the real risks students choose.

Academics talk about The Chair – new podcast

The new Netflix series The Chair, a six episode dramedy about wheelings and dealings in an English department in a mid-level American university has unsurprisingly sparked much discussion in academia. Local Higher Ed notables Inger Mewburn, Narelle Lemon, Megan McPherson and Anitra Nottingham forensically and amusingly dissect the show episode by episode – definitely worth a listen.

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assessment CMM ed tech

Ed Tech must reads – Column 2

Originally published in Campus Morning Mail on 23rd Aug 2021

Current trends in online delivery and assessment in ANZ from @michael_sankey

The Australasian TEL world’s Mr Everywhere, Prof Michael Sankey, recently presented the findings of several ACODE surveys of HE institutions to the Blackboard APAC conference. Unsurprisingly, it shows the sector in the midst of significant change – not entirely brought on by the pandemic but certainly accelerated by it. This wide-ranging slide deck covers the variety of approaches to online exam proctoring, intentions for the lecture, micro-credentials and the kinds of communication and collaboration tools that institutions are using to support student learning.

Pearson unveils Pearson+ platform to address costly college textbook process from ZDNet

After moving from Disney (home of streaming platform Disney+), new Pearson publishing CEO Andy Bird has launched Pearson+, a subscription service for textbooks for US college students. They can either rent a single digital textbook for $9.99 per month or 1500 books for $15.99. What implications could this Brave new direction have for students? Might they find themselves losing access to books if authors get Tangled up in legal actions with the publisher? Will Pearson turn the textbook landscape Inside Out? Time will tell but either way, it’s good to see an organisation not Frozen in place.

Discussing the Stanford AI report on education from @BenPatrickWill on Twitter

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic in many spaces and education isn’t spared. University of Edinburgh ed tech research Ben Williamson examines a hefty report published last week by Stanford University about work underway to train computer models to ‘understand’ teachers, students and more in this deep twitter thread. Will an algorithm one day be able to meaningfully replicate the interactions at the heart of good learning and teaching?

Webinar: Rescued from HERDSA21 – Technology’s role in enabling feedback and assessment Thursday 26/8 12 noon AEST

This year’s HERDSA conference was sadly cancelled but planned presentations keep popping up anyway. The ASCILITE TELedvisors Network hosts two of these on Thursday, with Deakin’s Ameena Payne showcasing the benefits and challenges of audio/video feedback and Griffith’s Diana Tolmie discussing the use of ePortfolios among music students. These webinars are always free and recordings are posted to the TELedvisors’ YouTube channel

Creating art with AI from @artgallerai

On the less daunting side of AI, there are many new tools that let creators work with the bizarre imagination of computers to create beautiful and surreal images. The @GallerAi account on Twitter, feeds the VQGAN+CLIP algorithm random poetic phrases like “Deep space dive bar” or “Golden Trojan Horse love bomb” and shares the resulting otherworldly images.

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CMM ed tech

Ed Tech must reads – Column 1

Back in the early days of blogging, content was largely an annotated record of the sites someone had been visiting and wanted to share, a web log. A couple of months ago, I started a weekly ed tech column in this tradition in Campus Morning Mail, an Australian tertiary education focused daily email newsletter run by the former Higher Ed reporter for The Australian, Stephen Matchett. It gets a few thousand views a day and I get to write what I like and people have been teasing me for being famous so it seems like a win.

Anyway, I thought I might as well share my work here too.

Why returning to the lecture only model is a bad idea from The Ed Techie

Martin Weller is one of the more interesting practitioners in the ed tech space and this thoughtful post breaks down recent discussion in the UK (but, arguably everywhere) about where we need to go with technology enhanced learning when we (eventually) emerge from the pandemic.

Education Technology Competency Framework: Defining a Community of Practice across Canada from Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (Open Access)

What is an Education Technologist? What do they do, what do they know, how do they help educators to navigate the digital age of learning and teaching? This article from Sonnenberg et al. outlines recent work to describe their practices and proposes some useful ways forward for edtech teams in transforming “the academic experience for learners and teaching faculty”. While the focus is on the Canadian experience, the ideas translate very well to Australia.

Kevin Gannon thread about tips for first time lecturers from Twitter

Twitter can be a goldmine for ideas for educators and this recent tweet from Kevin Gannon (@TheTattooedProf) and the subsequent replies offers some invaluable practical suggestions for new lecturers (faculty). Among them, capture students’ attention early with a wicked problem that the unit will equip them with the skills to solve in time.

The Melbourne EdTech Summit 2021 from EduGrowth

The Melbourne EdTech Summit is a free four-day education technology and innovation showcase beginning on Tuesday 17th August. The first two days are K-12 focused and the Thursday/Friday relate more to Higher Education, VET and Industry. It offers an opportunity to explore new technologies from Australian EdTech vendors and engage in broader discussions about the emerging future of learning and teaching. EduGrowth is an umbrella body of education institutions, industry and edtech entrepreneurs. Speaker highlights include Martin Dougiamas (Moodle) on the Wednesday, Liz Johnston (Deakin) and Chris Campbell (Griffith/ASCILITE) on Thursday, and Belinda Tynan (ACU) and CMM’s own Claire Field on the Friday.

These Maps Reveal the Hidden Structures of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books from Atlas Obscura

Branching scenarios and decision tree type activities are becoming increasingly popular in learning and teaching due to the ease of creation via user-friendly tools such as H5P and Twine. Some of us got our first taste for these through the popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series in the 80s and 90s. This article from Sarah Laskow describes some of the ways these branching stories are mapped, offering insights for our own work in designing them.

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ed tech edtech Education Support People Education Technologist higher education organisation technologist

Thoughts on Who Chooses What Ed Tech to Buy for the College Classroom? Jenae Cohn – Chronicle of Higher Education

https://www.chronicle.com/article/who-chooses-what-ed-tech-to-buy-for-the-college-classroom

Given my job and my interests, I probably spend more time than most people thinking about how educational institutions implement educational technologies. This is not something that gets much coverage at all in research literature about technology enhanced learning or ed tech, most likely because it is big and messy and complex. Most things I have seen about ed tech relate to specific interventions to see what impact a tool has on learning and teaching – which is, you know, pretty important. Alternatively another major strand seems to consist of feelings about ed tech – either at scale or individual wailing about the (sometimes legitimate) failings and ethical/moral problems of certain tools and approaches. Again, these can be important discussions to have.

I was excited to see this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education crop up in my Twitter feed today though from Dr Jenae Cohn, the director of academic technology at California State University at Sacramento. These are certainly questions and concerns that I’ve heard before but it was nice to see them articulated so clearly and evenhandedly.

Recognising that there are, of course, cultural/operational/organisational differences between HE institutions in the US and Australia and definitely different terminology, hopefully I read and understood it as intended. My biggest response was – where are your educational technologists? These challenges sound a lot like what we work to address every day (with varying degrees of success, sure). There is a reference to ed tech professionals at the end but I do wonder what differences there are in how we work and what we do.

Anyway, from here, this is largely going to be my direct responses to some of the key points. Apologies if I’m overdoing the quotes.

“Decisions about educational technology can appear opaque to academics. On the flip side, the IT staff in charge of acquiring the technology may find faculty preferences in the classroom to be similarly hazy and ill-defined.”This is literally why we have educational technologists (and also do reasonable business analysis), to be the bridge between educators and IT.

“Yet decisions surrounding digital tools — and the professional development necessary to use them effectively — seem to have no clear catalyzing origin for either faculty or staff members.” Agreed there is definitely a need for better communication, but at the same time, I’ve tried to explain the complexities of these processes only to see people’s eyes glaze over.

“Staff members and administrators often do not know why or how instructors intend to use certain ed-tech tools. The staff and administrative role is just to facilitate their purchasing and support.” So this is possibly a US/Australia thing – by administrators do you mean institutional managers/leaders (many of which are academics) or IT dept leaders? Here at least, IT dept leaders seldom make these kinds of calls without direction from the senior academic leaders in the institution. And, again, this is why we have educational technologists.

“Meanwhile, faculty members seem to think that some amorphous administrative body just decides to buy random ed tech purely for the sake of buying the latest fancy technology. Sometimes that perception aligns with reality; sometimes it doesn’t.” Again, these top end decisions here are frequently driven by senior academic leaders but the point about an amorphous admin body is well taken and sometimes decisions can even surprise the ed tech units too.

“Poor channels of communication. Because the faculty and the staff operate in separate spheres on most campuses, whether communication about teaching technology is clear and consistent often depends on where, and how, the ed-tech staff members are housed in an institution. On a single campus, you might find some ed-tech staff members in an IT department. Others are in campus teaching centres. Still others may be housed in an academic-affairs office or as part of a distinct online-learning division.” Certainly a challenge – in Australia at least, most ed tech units with the power to roll out ed tech uni wide sit in a central Learning and Teaching division and work with uni IT. There are often local ed techs in discipline based teaching centres (which we call faculties or colleges). There can also be a cultural component in HE institutions where academics tend not to talk that much to professional staff about these kinds of issues.

“Lack of representation. While faculty perspectives often shape campus technology choices, the mechanisms for collecting those perspectives may not always be representative. Some institutions have designated faculty-senate groups to discuss the choice and implementation of educational technology. But those committees may not be representative of the full range of faculty and staff voices and needs. In addition, those governance committees may not always consistently communicate with the staff members who are directly responsible for getting the technology up and running.” Any decent tech implementation project should first examine the business (learning and teaching) needs – which necessarily involves understanding what educators need (and want). An education technology will usually also need to address other institutional needs however (technical, security, financial, policy, etc), so educator input can’t be the only consideration. The question of how representative these representative groups is a fair one, with the potential for more senior educators who teach less to fill their ranks. One thing I’ve seen in Australia is that we will often seek out known ‘power-users’ or innovators in a faculty to inform decision making – which may still offer a skewed understanding of the needs of ‘average’ educators.

“Instructors going rogue. Faculty members may opt to use online teaching tools without the explicit support or licensing of their institution — turning the ed-tech environment on any campus into an idiosyncratic jumble that differs from one course to the next.” Certainly presents some challenges – ed technologists and central units actually don’t want to discourage innovative teaching practices and frequently do whatever they can to support localised implementations. Where value is demonstrated, with potential to be used more widely, they will even work to embed these new tools in the enterprise/institutional ed tech ecosystem. BUT there can be problems with integrating with existing systems (the LMS, student management etc), problems with support, accessibility, security and privacy and often problems when the person who was a big driver of using a tool moves on, leaving their colleagues abandoned.

Two suggestions:   

1) Give faculty members with expertise in college teaching a joint appointment in administrative units where they can directly influence campus decision-making about teaching — especially around purchases of educational technology.

Decision making in this space rarely happens quickly so there would likely be long periods where this person/people may have little to do. Developing stronger models for input (which many ed tech units are at least mindful of) might be more valuable. Also revisiting the weighting of priorities in the evaluation and procurement of new tools, while recognising that learning and teaching aren’t the only factors at play. Also, how would such people be found and, more pragmatically, how would we deal with institutional politics of it all? Would STEM academics accept someone from the humanities? How many would we need then? Some kind of embedding sounds useful but…

“2) Rethink the role of educational-technology professionals on campus and allow them to engage in a mix of scholarship, teaching, and administration. That way new research on college teaching directly influences technology procurement, testing, and implementation”.

Well, as an education technologist, clearly, I think this is ingenious. I have actually been advocating for this for a while but breaking down some of these perceived barriers between academics and professional staff and giving ed techs this richer experience of an academic’s work and needs can only help everyone.

This article is timely for another reason in that I’ve recently been looking at revising a Twine branching scenario game that I built with some colleagues (Wendy Taleo, Stephanie Luo and Kate Mitchell) in 2019 about choosing and implementing ed technologies. Bear in mind that it is a work in progress but enough is done to play through the process in around 20 mins. bit.ly/EdTechGame

https://bit.ly/EdTechGame
Cohn, J. (2021, June 3). Advice | Who Chooses What Ed Tech to Buy for the College Classroom? The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/who-chooses-what-ed-tech-to-buy-for-the-college-classroom