This presentation looks at a Learning Technologists journey starting at a new institution, the challenges faced and converting academic staff to start using technology in a more embedded way.
Staff resistant to technology. An underused Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Limited resources. These will be common obstacles facing a lot of Learning Technologists out there. The session will be broken down into these obstacles and tactics that were employed to help overcome them.
This session is aimed at anyone hoping to invoke positive change in usage of technology at their institution. This includes Learning Technologists, but also other job roles that require them to encourage other staff and students to use forms of technology.
The Learning Technologist is commonly seen as a very tech-heavy role, whereas it really should be a hybrid of an I.T. engineer and a relationship manager. New things scare or excite, cause fear or wonder. The Learning Technologist tries to make sense of the technology and teach others to not only understand it, but understand what it can be used for.
When looking at embracing innovative technology, it is easy to think about the numbers. “It will make X almost Y times faster!” But this cannot happen without the buy in of the staff who use these systems.
The tutors in the departments, the support staff making everything run smoothly, and the students themselves share one thing – they are all human. We need to make that human connection to understand their fears, frustrations and issues before we try to get them to use a piece of technology.
To understand what motivates people, not only do we need to communicate with them, but also understanding basic motivational theory and social physics can help communicate a message and encourage participation.
At our institution, we have a ‘people centric’ way of looking at issues and supporting staff and students. Technology, in our instance, must be used to support this methodology rather than run against that grain. This is something that, in this author’s opinion, should apply to other institutions as well.
The goal of the session is that attendees come away with ideas to solve some of the issues at their institution regarding building up user engagement and usage of technology, be it software or hardware.
Data sets will be used to reinforce points where appropriate.
Evaluation and reflection will be embedded into the presentation. Attendees are also encouraged to actively reflect on what is going on in their institution and what they could do differently to encourage and foster positive change.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The session will present multiple projects:
– online assessment,
– lecture capture,
– staff engaging with technology, and
– the VLE
It will cover how each of these was approached with staff members to encourage participation and achieve partial or complete success in these areas.
It matches the conference themes of:
– Participation through Learning Technology,
– Collaboration for Learning Technology, and
– Critical Perspectives in Learning Technology
With online assessment, it looks at an inherited problem. Online assessment had been previously either not been considered or dismissed entirely. We will look at the process of moving the institution to a partially online assessment model. Being an arts institution, we could not be fully online marking due to the nature of the arts but looks at online marking being a supplement to traditional marking.
Regarding Participation through Learning Technology, it is about encouraging staff to consider alternative ways of completing a task more efficiently and leading to more progressive model of marking and providing feedback. This, whilst being able to maintain that human contact between tutor and student and not divorcing ourselves from what our institution is all about.
A project that was delivered from start to finish. In this section we consider the technology aspect, but also the affect on staff regarding the apprehension of recording materials to be used on the VLE and other mediums. This includes feelings such as “if I record everything, I’ll lose my job” to “if I record everything, my students will not turn up”. It looks at listening to and understanding these feelings and turning them into a willingness to try.
GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation
Trying to translate what is seen as typically dull matter for I.T. into something that all staff members can get behind has been in some ways one of the most challenging issues. This section looks at the GDPR and how we became ready for compliance, including how key staff members were brought on board, in some cases applying motivational theory.
Staff Engaging with Technology
This will be a theme running throughout the rest of the presentation and evaluation process. Examples will be given of resistance but were encouraged to use technology in a more effective manner. These examples may resonate with attendees who work alongside colleagues who share similar traits.
A very broad and ongoing project. This area will consider what the VLE is meant to be used for and what it is actually used for. It looks at the development of the VLE into something more mobile friendly and intuitive. Encouraging staff and students to provide honest feedback to make more robust and effective changes. Our institution is on the cusp of deploying the most bold and robust change to our VLE since it had been implemented approximately 6 years ago.
Looking at each of these projects, the attendees will be shown strategies that were employed to deliver these projects effectively. Strategies include motivational theory which will significantly feature within this presentation, as well as more contemporary thinking such as ‘nudge’ psychology and the application of social physics to facilitate change.
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. England: Psychological Review, 50.
Herzberg, F.I. (1966). Work and the nature of man. Oxford, England: World.
R. Thaler and C. Sunstein (2008) Nudge.
Alex Pentland (2014) Social Physics.