Sunday, 15 November 2009

Thoughts on Oliver

What do Learning Technologists do? Oliver, M., 2002. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 39(4), 245.

Oliver describes learning technologists as one group of the 'new professionals', a group that are in roles that 'seem to be hybrid, marginal and yet central to institutional processes of change', and who are typically 'aged under 35, with five or fewer years of experience of the role, and whose qualifications are not always related to the post' (p.245).

Beetham (2002) identified 10 central activities for learning technologists, with the most important being "keeping abreast of technology" (p.246). However, much of the rest of the paper seems to show learning technologists themselves placing more emphasis on collaboration and understanding the teaching and learning requirement. There is no mention of them actually implementing any technology, and the quotes in the paper suggetss most actually felt quite far away from technical aspects - in fact almost derisory of it.

The paper only seems to talk about learning technologists in a higher educational context. I feel that they could also be working elsewhere, perhaps even in industry. I also wondered about roles within the elearning industry itself, and whether roles which blend pedagogy and technologies may use titles such as (or synonamous with) learning technologist.

The author considers that his research "has shown that learning technologists may undertake any of a diverse range of activities, including staff development, research, management and technical support". I would also have included aspects such as elearning course design, elearning material authoring, elearning technology design and development and perhaps understanding/developing elearning strategy in relation to pedagogic needs.

My main concern with this paper was that the learning technologists it discusses seemed to be there to take policies developed by the institution and then somehow get departments to accept them. There seemed to be little evidence of working departments asking these people to do things for them. This struck me as worrying - a group of people with a technology/approach that they need to foist on others. In fact, they look most like consultants. They are there to help get ideas adopted, but are not involved in the implementation.  What Oliver seems to have missed is another complete swathe of people, who are designing and delivering elearning systems (including all the technology, pedagogy and teaching materials, as well as fitting them into conventional courses).  Surely those people are also learning technologists?

The paper by Lisewski and Joyce seemed to imply that the focus of the learning technology profession is on 'technology mediation', which seems contrary to the view of Oliver. I said in my previous post that I felt learning technologist was a broader term. I believe that it constitutes a spectrum of tasks and activities - not all of which may be included in the job specification for any one individual, but which may be part of a learning technologist's role.

1 comment:

  1. I said in my previous post that I felt learning technologist was a broader term. - Why did you say so? Anyways I will read your previous blog so I can understand. Keep it up.