What does that have to do with technology?

By Steven Bishop

I am getting better at answering the question, “What you are talking about is important, but what does that have to do with technology?” This question is probably more implied, and probably more personal and internal, than one I am asked by others directly. My job title is Online Learning Designer, a role that involves:

  • supporting faculty with their use of the college’s Learning Management System (LMS)
  • collaborating with educational and informational technology staff to ensure currency and quality of online learning environments
  • instructing faculty in the design and production of online learning objects
  • providing “exceptional client-centered service on a consistent basis to all stakeholder groups”

Depending on what one thinks technology means, there is lots of room for interpretation of the above functions. Because the environment is technological (e.g. digital, computer-based, online), there can be an assumption that the primary work is within prescribed technologies. Ursula Franklin, defines a prescriptive technology as that which “Each step is carried out by a separate worker, or group of workers, who need to be familiar only with the skills of performing that one step. This is what is normally meant by division of labour.” (Franklin, 1990)

Franklin also identifies holistic technology as “…associated with the notion of craft” and involving decisions that can only be made while the work is in process, by the artisan themselves. Holistic technology is endangered in our modern, compliance-based, and prescriptive technological environment, where one misplaced character in a line of code causes failure, and where algorithms decide what information we are fed on our smart phones and computers.

There are a number of reasons why I think a holistic approach to Educational Technology is needed, Continue reading “What does that have to do with technology?”

I mentor, you mentor, we ALL mentor

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Our job is to work with faculty to integrate educational technology in their courses. That means training with a capital T, as well as running special events (guest speakers, symposiums, webinars, etc.). But connecting with them is no easy feat.

A little background…

We follow college protocols, writing stories and events for our Intranet, but many instructors are simply not logging into the site.  So, we’ve opted to write pleading emails to the Admin Officers, Chairs, even the Deans, asking for their support in getting the word out about our training events. Though more successful than relying solely on our Intranet, we still haven’t achieved critical mass. Hey, we’ve even gone old school, designing posters with catchy graphics to attract people. And, yes, we’re blogging too…

I’ve gotta’ tell you: it’s more than a little deflating to have two people show up for a planned event when 30 were expected. Considerable energy is spent strategizing, writing, and promoting training opportunities. And, it isn’t just us. It seems that most PSE departments in support roles are all trying to reach their respective audiences, but with less-than-stellar results.

So, here’s what we worked out:

We’re adopting a concierge model. Instead of trying to reach out to the greatest number of faculty possible, we’re focusing on those who approach us for help: consulting with them about their course design, discussing desired learning outcomes, reviewing the ed tech options, then designing learning objects that match those outcomes. These same faculty are asked to present their experiences to other interested instructors, forming a group of faculty mentors.

“This is nothing new,” you’ll say, and you’re right. But we are looking at faculty mentors through a new lens to assist them with their goals, while at the same time promote our agenda, which is ultimately connecting with faculty. A truly symbiotic relationship is what we’re after.

Since this model is still very much in its infancy in our department, we’ll keep you posted on our results. Fingers crossed!

 

The Lightboard is coming! The Lightboard is coming!

Truth be told, it’s already here. Yes, Douglas College is now the proud owner and purveyor of a Lightboard. After first reading about this technology on Twitter back in 2015, we finally have our own board, thanks to the DC Innovative Technology Projects Fund.

And what is the Lightboard? Actually, it’s very much like a whiteboard, replacing the hard whiteboard surface with glass. The glass is mounted on a desk that can move up and down, depending on the height of the person using it. It’s also surrounded by lights, which, when used with special fluorescent markers makes for a very pleasing presentation.

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But the true beauty of the Lightboard lies in the fact that the instructor can write her lesson concepts on the board facing the video camera, then through the magic of mirrors, the image is transposed, displaying properly for the viewer of the recordings. By recording your lecture via the Lightboard, you then have the ability to post the recording in your Blackboard course, reusing it repeatedly until the material needs updating.

The ATS team is excited about this new technology and looks forward to helping instructors integrate it into their teaching practice.