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?”

Our ETUG road trip

Last week, Tim Paul, Mikki Herbold, and I attended the ETUG Spring workshop “Education by Design” (May 31-June 2) at UBC-Okanagan in beautiful Kelowna, BC. Excited for our road trip, we left the Lower Mainland in good time then hit the highway, jammin’ the whole way to some groovy tunes provided by yours truly (after all, it was my car…). We made it to Kelowna in 4 hours or so, then decided to stop for lunch at Memphis Blues. After some relax time on the patio, we got back in the car for the final leg of our journey to UBC-Okanagan. Seriously! What a gorgeous campus!


We stayed in residence, opting for the true “student experience.” A studio room with bed, desk, kitchenette, and bathroom provided all the creature comforts we were looking for.

After freshening up, I met my fellow SCETUGgers (stewardship committee members) for a brief pre-conference meeting to confirm we all knew our respective duties/tasks during the conference. As for Mikki and Tim, they explored the campus, uncovering the local Starbucks. Good sleuthing, team!

Next, we hopped in a taxi to Freddy’s Brew Pub to meet up with the ETUG participants. It was wonderful to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, socializing for an hour or two before heading back to campus for some much-needed rest before the start of the conference the next day.

Yikes! 7:30 am comes early–that’s all I’m saying. Thanks to the UBC-O team (with Janine Hirtz at the helm), we got the Reg Desk set up in short order, just outside where breakfast was being served. After some scrambled eggs, toast, and copious cups of coffee, I felt ready for whatever the day might bring.

Starting things off was Dr. Peter Newbury, the new Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at UBC-O. His keynote presentation titled “How (you can help) people learn?” was the perfect introduction to this action-packed conference.

With four main streams offered (Learning Design, Ed Tech, Faculty/Ed Development, & Breakthrough Thinking), we decided the best approach was to divide and conquer; each of us attending different sessions. What a selection! Everything from
A New Format for Course Redesign Process to Intro to Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to Design Challenge: Mobile Learning to the FOIPPA Design Challenge–the choices were extensive!

The big social on June 1 was held at Kelowna’s Rotary Club downtown, a super-cool venue perfect for a cocktail party with the smooth stylings of Breaking Band and DJ Draggin (aka Jason Toal, chair of ETUG). And dancing? Yeah, we did a little of that too…


Friday morning came quickly with another slate of great sessions and presentations such as Open Pedagogy; I Stream, You Stream, We All Stream: DIY Live Streaming; and Okanagan College’s Disrupters Group among others.

And, before we knew it, we had to hit the road to get back to our regular lives. But, for a few days we had the opportunity to share, collaborate, and network about issues, challenges, and innovations at our institutions realizing that we all have similar experiences. Thank you, ETUG. Fun was had and stuff was learned by all.