Getting to know: Dr Olatunde Durowoju, ARLT SIG Vice Chair

Getting to know the Antiracism & Learning Tech SIG Officers” is a blog series by ARLT SIG Chair, Dr Teeroumanee Nadan, to provide visibility to ARLT SIG officers who undertake this role in a voluntary capacity and to highlight the importance of antiracism work in the sector. It is a celebration of how ARLT SIG officers have grown in this role!

In this blog, she introduces Dr Olatunde Durowoju, the ARLT SIG committee Vice-Chair, who has a particular interest in antiracism within the HE sector and the impact it has on certain groups. 

Dr Olatunde Durowoju is a Reader in Education Management and Associate Dean EDI at the Liverpool John Moores University

Connect with him on LinkedIn 

Tell me a bit about your educational and work background?

Olatunde: “My first degree was in food science and technology, and that evolved into the field of operations and supply chain management by the time I got to my PhD. It wasn’t planned, it just evolved as my interest evolved. I worked in the food industry for a few years, sandwiching my Master’s degree, before transitioning into academia after my PhD study. I am currently a Reader (Associate Professor) in Education Management and also the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion for the Faculty of business and law at Liverpool John Moores University.  I have been teaching in HE for over 13 years and been a program leader for over six years, looking after several management Master’s programmes, including large collaborative MBA programmes.”

What is your interest in ARLT SIG?

Olatunde: “Before being elected as ARLT SIG Vice Chair, I had been doing a lot of work around inclusion within Higher Education (HE), specifically racial inclusion. It was clear to me that, to achieve racial inclusion, we need to have anti-racist institutions. It also became apparent, through some of my research projects, that the HE sector has still not fully explored the use of technology in addressing many of the racial inclusion challenges facing the sector. That, to me, is a big shame and I started to explore the existence of groups whose remit is to address this issue. I believe ARLT SIG is a place where people with special interest (unique focus) in the role of technology in achieving antiracism and the role of antiracism in developing inclusive technologies within HE, can discuss, resource and collaborate to achieve this.”

What motivates you to undertake your role of Vice Chair in ARLT SIG?

Olatunde: “ There is an urgent need to have anti-racist technology within the HE space. For the most part, technology design in HE has been about addressing issues such as engagement, retention, poor student experience etc. These appear to be important in HE, and rightly so.  However, issues such as inclusivity are often treated as surplus to requirement, despite their importance, and most technology design for inclusion are often focused on disability. There is a failure in HE here with regards to technology design for racial inclusivity which is symptomatic of the failure of HE and technology providers to understand the importance of how our experiences have been shaped by race. My motivation is that I can contribute in a small way to centering this issue within the HE sector and Education Technology industry, and ALT ARLT SIG is a good platform for this.”

What have you learnt so far in your journey in the ARLT SIG committee?

Olatunde: “It has been a very good experience working with colleagues within the SIG committee, including the Chair. I am encouraged by the shared vision and commitment of the SIG to promoting anti-racism within edtech design and deployment in HE. There have been many innovative ideas coming through the SIG, which is important to addressing our shared goals.”

(From ALT processes, from ARLT SIG, from the Chair, from meetings, etc)

What are you doing to improve things within ARLT SIG, ALT, and the wider community in terms of antiracism & learning technologies?

Olatunde: “I believe centering the issue of antiracism is very important. Making people aware of how racial experiences shape the way we perceive things, our decisions, and what we prioritise is crucial. For example, how can any design team create a product or service that adequately addresses the needs of their clients without having the lived experience of that need. Who are we designing for? Are we designing for the needs of the majority, whilst disregarding the needs of the minority? How do we build capacity to address the needs of the minority as well? How do we understand the issues facing certain groups of people? How do we translate those needs into effective solutions through inclusive technology design and deployment? These are some of the questions we are trying to engender within the HE and Edtech collaborative space, so we can be proactively anti-racist as a sector. We have a long way to go, but we hope we can start moving in the right direction.”

Since you joined in April 2023, what has been your greatest achievement so far in ARLT SIG?

Olatunde: “I wouldn’t say my achievement, I believe it is a collective achievement as a SIG. I contribute to the discussions shaping the direction of the SIG and building momentum towards achieving our goals. I also have assigned responsibilities such as compiling and creating documents essential to the smooth running of the SIG. As Vice Chair, I meet regularly with the Chair to discuss some of the excellent ideas of the Chair and of other members of the group, and also the issues facing the group, with the view of sensing any associated challenges and exploring potential interventions. These meetings have also been the Chair’s way of helping me, as a new committee member, understand the dynamics of the SIG and ALT in general.”

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