Home » higher education change » Homework for #cfhe12 (may also reference #oped12)

Homework for #cfhe12 (may also reference #oped12)

#cfhe12 Learning Activities Week 2

  1. Map what you are hearing to your institutional context. What parts are relevant to your institution?
  2. What might be your role in moving your school to a new model?
  3. Write a dialog/argument you would make to sell the administration on the idea of moving to a new model

In answer to question 1, many of the things that I’m hearing and reading right now about technology-enhanced, blended and online learning methods map to my institution. Collectively let’s just name these delivery method variations TEL (Technology-enhanced Learning). My institution has embraced distance education and TEL as part of the continuing education school for the past ten years. However, the main campus (the day school as it is sometimes called) has rarely approached TEL delivery methods. There are some amazing departmental exceptions, Disability Studies for example, but overall, it’s a new institutional path.

It’s pointless at this crossroads in our institutional evolution to point fingers and say that it’s faculty resistance, lack of leadership, lack of technologic vision or the academic silo effect that has kept us from approaching TEL, it doesn’t matter what’s been in our way, it’s simply time to move forward. It’s vital that we begin to thoroughly investigate emerging possibilities and form a strategic TEL plan that satisfies all stakeholders (learners, faculty, administrators and staff) as a collaborative venture. I believe the future success of our institution, and of the learners who approach us, depends on our ability to do this.

A few things have shifted in the educational landscape in Ontario and globally that are bringing TEL to the attention of senior administrators. They are starting to research what’s happening around the institution and in the world. MOOCs and the exceptional media hype around them are one influencing factor, a provincial call for increased access to higher education for Ontario residents, easily transferred credits across institutions, and suggestions to increase the speed at which learners can graduate are others. Kudos to administrators, faculty and staff at this time, many positive things are happening in response to these influences.

In my role, to address question 2, as an online instructional designer, I hope to listen to the needs of instructors (subject matter experts) and their learners, and help educate, train, and influence instructor and learner satisfaction with TEL. In my work, I advocate for andragogy first, technology second, and recommend research-based, effective practices in the development of engaging, interactive, rich learning environments. The aim of the TEL courses is to be collaborative ventures between instructors and learners. Every day I learn something new from subject matter experts about their discipline and their learners that improves my ability to support and advise. Every day I come up against barriers and constraints to success in these ideals, the technology, the failings of technology, the learning management system, the content management system, outdated attitudes, my own closed mind, timelines, student feedback, lack of resources. Nothing new in barriers and constraints, all institutions and practitioners in TEL are up against them.

Why? because TEL is exceptionally new. Not more than ten to fifteen years have passed in large-scale use of the Internet as a learning environment. Significant change to education systems that have been in place for centuries is going to take somewhat longer than fifteen years. Research is there, but there’s not enough to begin to approach an agreed-upon model for TEL. We’re experimenting, let’s be frank, however, we have a rich history of research on how humans learn effectively, now is the time to really apply it.

In support of the wider university moving to a new model, I hope to lead from within and have a part in the overall conversation. I look forward to listening to all of the amazing perspectives and creative thinking that I know live with all of the real people who contribute to the learning community (I’d rather consider it a learning community than an institution, it sounds nicer).

Warning: While I feel very passionately about these things, I don’t take myself too seriously. Clearly this is a soapbox moment, but I believe I’m walking the walk of it. Most of you taking this course are likely to be as well. Shared values create amazing power.

My dialogue to entice administration to move to a new model sounds like this…

The needs of learners, and learners themselves, are changing, significantly and rapidly. As a caring, public learning community, invested in learner success, we must consider responding to their changing needs, rather than clinging to what may be, in our view, tried and true, comfortable educational practices. We need to lead by example, be innovative, and unafraid to make mistakes. We will make mistakes, and the larger, louder, and more transparent, the better. Making mistakes is one of the ways we learn well, and often how human knowledge advances.

Creative thinking and willingness to modify and adapt are attributes that have served humans for millennia. Let’s all go out on a limb, learners, faculty, administrators and staff, together, and take a chance that we have every possibility and every tool we need for success. If we truly collaborate, and if we select leaders and advisors who understand the landscape and transformation, we will succeed.

Within our communities, our city, our provinces, and our nation, we reside within economies that are unhealthy and may not fully recover in our lifetime. Our response to these realities must be to become more open, rather than closed. To learn, to share our knowledge, to be innovative, to support learner needs and ensure that everyone within our sphere of influence, whatever their abilities, can acquire the skills they need to develop livelihoods. Technology presents unprecedented opportunities for communication among people who wish to teach and to learn, let’s be certain we’re having conversations, listening to needs and taking action.

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