"If we look at teaching from a foundation of values, rather than the surface-level of methods, there is a shorter path we could follow if we really care about student learning”.
John Warner, We Don't Need a 'Revolution' to Improve Teaching
What are the values that we should look for in our edtech leaders?
What are the priorities that flow from these core values that campus technology leaders should be supporting?
The answers to both of these questions has surprisingly little to do with technology. Rather, the values that edtech leaders would be wise to align with (if we care about advancing learning on our campuses), and the practices that follow these values are beautifully articulated in John Warner’s recent essay.
- "Empower the people inside our institutions who are doing so much of the teaching – adjunct and contingent faculty - to teach in circumstances that are conducive to effective teaching.”:
- "Pay these faculty a wage that allows them to work at only one institution, rather than many."
- "Provide [educators] with the security and support necessary to allow them to invest in their students, their institution, and themselves."
- "Give [educators] class sizes that allow for the kind of close student/teacher content that we know helps students learn."
Where does this leave technology?
What is the space for championing learning technologies to support learning, if our edtech leaders put their energies behind empowering and support educators?
Is it really the place of edtech leadership to stray from our narrow technological lanes - championing and supporting values and practices that never mention technologies?
Increasingly, the actions of our most impactful and effective campus technology leaders will be those that align most closely with our educators. Our best edtech leaders are fluent across domains of learning, postsecondary leadership, and technology. They need to speak the language of educators and campus leaders (including the language of finance, marketing, budgeting, and innovation) - as well as be expert in the world of educational technologies.
Tomorrow’s edtech leadership will need to:
- Be clear about the potential of technology as a tool (as a means) to improve learning, but only if technologies are utilized to empower and support educators.
- Be vocal in delineating the limits of technology for learning, acting as a counterbalancing force to the hype (and market pressures) that constantly push technical solutions for policy, cultural, organizational, and resource related challenges.Be passionate about the potential of technologies to enable new practices, programs, and methods to meet specific (and limited) institutional needs - including (but not limited to), online and low-residency learning programs, blended learning, and learning analytics.
- Be aggressive in creating opportunities to shift technology investments to differentiating activities (such as teaching and learning), and away from commoditized campus technology services.
- Be persuasive in making the case that investing in learning technology is strategic, and that the smartest investments are not in software or hardware, but in investing in both resources for faculty and courses, and in alt-ac professionals (such as instructional designers) to collaborate with faculty on course development.
None of these edtech leadership behaviors will be effective, however, without earning the trust of (all) the faculty.
Faculty need to believe that edtech people share their values and their goals. They need to see us as fellow educators and as partners.
Has the edtech community effectively made the case that technology is a method to increase the amount of resources (enlarge the pie) available for teaching, learning, and for faculty?
What would it take for John Warner, and educators like John Warner, to see edtech (the people and the discipline) as allies in teaching, learning, and advocacy?
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