Commentary: September 2009 Archives

My Mission Statement as a Graphic

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Every now an again, I am involved in discussions about either defining the role in ETS or my role as an instructional designer - preferably in a short sentence. This has been remarkably difficult and subject to interpretation, but for me, the shortest answer is a graphic.

Elizabeth is in the overlap of education and technology

If you still want more explanation - I believe that my "space" is wherever educational issues and technology issues overlap. While I don't work with EVERY issue, there are lots of possibilities including supporting services such as ANGEL or blogs, developing online courses or online multimedia projects, consulting with instructors wishing to use new technology, working with the labs and researching issues such as accessibility, copyright for new media...and of course Unicode.

The text is much more clunky than the picture I think.

Too Much Technology?

A side issue for instructional designers is whether we are technologists or pedagogical specialists. I admit that pedagogy is important, but I do believe that technology is the more marketable skill, but I don't have a problem with labelling myself as a technologist.

Tell an instructor you want to improve his pedagogy and most will glare and comment that everything has been working quite well for them and does not need to change. One in fact told me that theory was nonsense in comparison with practical experience (those who can't do real teaching teach instructors?) We all know that's not true, but the battle to convince faculty that pedagogy theory is valid is as difficult as convincing people that speaking like an Texan does not mean you are stupid.

On the other hand, if you are available to help faculty improve their teaching life and help those pesky students learn more with the magic of technology...there seems to be more interest and more openess to change. It's the technology that's changing, not their pedagogy!

So I think I am one of many instructional designers who walk a delicate line of pretending to be a techie, but really suggesting ways that you can redesign assignments...so that the tech part works more smoothly. If I during a hands-on software training sessions on iDVD for faculty, we accidentally suggest ways that a video assignment might be tailored for a class (or learning objective), then all I can say is so be it.

I will admit there is a danger though - the tech part does come with the "tech support" challenge. I would say that the more interesting parts of my job are design and consulting, not say, testing audio links in a course or answering help desk questions. There is a valid point that in that ID's have to show that they offer something different from other technology professionals, and that does happen to be pedagogy (or experience with effective technology in educational settings).

I think the difference is that I am still happy to embrace technology, but at a higher level then just creating a Web page (we know many high schoolers who can do that). After all the most exciting thing about all of this is that technology can make us question our pedagogy, and at the end of the day, it is the improvement in teaching that makes this all worth it.