On the edge of a chasm

I’ve spent the day locked in a hotel room trashing out a draft chapter looking at new technologies and their impact on organisations and individuals. The rather grandeous introduction sets the scene. 

The central focus of this chapter is a critique of the impact and future implications of new technologies on different aspects of educational systems – the people, organisational structures and processes, and learning and teaching practice. The strong title of this chapter ‘stepping over the edge’ is used to indicate that we are poised on the threshold of major change in education. I will argue that the implications of new technologies – social networking tools, mobile and smart devices, the drive towards near ubiquitous access - are profound and that they will impact on all aspects of educational institutions. These are exciting, but challenging times - the decisions we make as institutions and as individuals within the next few years will have far reaching consequences.  

 I conclude by putting forward two suggestions for making sense of the complexity. 

Having outlined the inherent characteristics of new technologies and discussed the implications for institutions I now want to provide some suggestions of how we might tackle this complexity. I will provide two suggestions from current research and literature: using learning design as a means of guiding teacher practice, and using the notion of metaphors and other methods of meaning making to provide different lenses on the digital landscape and help users navigate through this space. These case studies address specific issues in an educational context. Firstly, how can we design for this new environment, to create pedagogical effective learning activities for our students which met their needs and which harness the affordances of the new technologies? Secondly how can we navigate the complex digital landscape and make sense of the space, how can we represent it and use different metaphors to describe different aspects of the activities occurring?  

The draft chapter, riddled no doubt with errors, is available here. Would welcome thoughts!

3 Responses to “On the edge of a chasm”

  1. Suzanne Aurilio Says:

    I like table 2. It’s very useful for organizations to see the good and bad side by side.

    “Students see technologies as core tools for learning,”
    I don’t know if I agree or have found any real lit on that. I think students see them as “the things in their lives.” You know the saying, “it’s technology if it was invented after you were born.” I think we’re still figuring out ourselves, how technology A-Z actually enhances learning X, and they’re needing us to do that. Just a thought…

    RE: roles are changing for everyone.
    Yes, we’re working on that ourselves in terms of professional development for faculty AND staff. Can learning design be applied or crafted to apply to staff (instructional support staff) development?
    I think it could based on your research questions? What if instructional staff began “thinking aloud” about how they teach/support faculty? And then they made that public?
    What I’m getting at it is organizational development stuff, and the need to think about these issues at this level rather than simply at the course or curricular level. It does us no good to talk about learning 2.0 for students, when the organization is working 1.0. Cultivating an organizational learning culture is helpful.
    Have you read “Leadership and the New Science” Margaret Wheatley.
    Love your work!!

  2. Gary Lewis Says:

    Hi Grainne - I really liked the section on “making sense of complexity” and its two case studies. Especially liked the idea of new metaphors for meaning-making, maybe because I just finished Morville’s book on Ambient Findability where he discusses metaphors in web design. Then started reading Holland’s book on Emergence and in the first chapter he mentions the close relationship between building metaphors and the building of models. So when I read your article today and found metaphors again … well, that’s 3 times in a very short time span. Maybe I better pay attention. Nice work. Thanks. … Gary

  3. Jane Plenderleith Says:

    Hi Grainne, hope you don’t mind a comment from left field. I was struck by convergences between your perspective on the implications of technological advances for institutions and individual practititioners, and the arguments put by Diana Laurillard in her recent professorial inaugural presentation ‘Digital technologies and their role in achieving our ambitions for education’ at the IoE (Feb 2008). I don’t think this is yet published online but the presentation slides are available
    Introduction as follows: “Education is on the brink of being transformed through learning technologies; however, it has been on tha brink for some decades now. The argument I want to advance in this lecture is that neverbefore has there been such a clear link between the needs and requirements of educaiton, and the capability of technology to meet them. It is time we moved education beyond the brink of being transformed, to let it become what it wants to be.”
    Other key points of commonality with your arguments (as I understand it) are the role of learning design and pedagogic planning, and the emphasis on the academic practitioner as the user of technologies and architect of meaningful learning experiences to meet the needs of learners.

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