During an internal strategy development programme, to develop a bold and ambitious digital strategy for the future of the university and how we can better ‘harness’ digital. Divided into workstreams to look at closer issues, I was inspired by our small group’s discussions on the theme of ‘purposeful technology’ for context/role, audience, tasks and location. I echo and was instantly drawn to what a colleague said “my overarching feeling is that this is primarily about an approach to using technology rather than necessarily being a speciﬁc set of actions.” I am keen to explore a ‘philosophy’ of what this is and can look like for Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). It has led me to explore this separately in my role, broadly as a learning technologist.
In my many years of learning technology experience, you can’t just use digital technology just because you can and it’s different to what you have used before. What is the rationale underpinning it? It’s also about the attitudes or improved behaviours with the digital technologies we have. For example, Virtual learning Environment (VLE) minimum requirements can encourage inappropriate digital practices into making it a repository. Digital technology is not always the problem as many suggest, it’s how we use it, the behaviours involved – the challenge. When you keep adding stuff onto something over a long period of time, it gets bigger and somewhat a mess. It may be that purposeful technology needs to be a redesign to make a ‘step change’ – deconstruct it all and rebuild without the extra unnecessary slack. Perhaps educators need to approach this as a philosophy to guide positive thinking and practices around digital technologies.
In this reflective session, guided by Brookfield’s (2017) Four Lenses of Critical Reflection I will explore my thoughts and perspectives on this topic, present an outline for discussion and evaluation with participants of what this means to educators and to consider its wider value and to help strengthen a commitment to a core philosophy. The session is suitable for anyone in higher or further education that support and develop digital learning. From attending this session you will gain:
• Insights into what is meant by purposeful technology
• Opportunities to contribute to the development of this thought piece
• Ideas on how this can be applied in your own work/organisation
This evaluation supports the ‘Critical frames of reference’ theme by analysing, grounding and encouraging positive digital practices. I feel that purposefulness as a theme is a common issue for TEL, one that many educators think about but not sure how to visualise, represent and implement.
Questions/areas to be explored:
• What are the underpinning principles of a purposeful technology philosophy?
• How do we reduce inconsistency of application and implementation of TEL?
• How do we provide staff time to try low stakes experimentation and evaluation with digital technologies?
• How can we improve TEL communications to academics to help them easily access and evaluate digital technology for what they want to do/achieve?
• How can we improve the visibility, access and promotion of sharing good practice?
• Brookfield, S. 2017 2nd edition. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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