My EdTech 'Paying Your Dues’ Blindspot

Questioning the relationship between experience and effectiveness.

April 11, 2017

I once read somewhere that the only people who possess an accurate picture of their own abilities are the clinically depressed.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between experience and effectiveness. My assumption has been that the two are correlated. Could I be wrong?

Here, I’m talking about my world of working at the intersection of learning and technology. Higher education technology. Academic computing.  nstructional design. Online learning. Institutional change. The whole enchilada that makes up the new edtech.  

Believing that experience correlates with effectiveness is a self-serving belief for anyone with lots of experience.  

In my case, I’ve been in this edtech game for 20 years. Two decades of working in and around online learning and educational technology. Big jobs and little jobs. Twenty years of paying my edtech dues.

Nowadays, I work with people both inside and outside of my institution who have not been at this gig for as long as I have.  

And if I’m being honest, I’d report that in many ways they are better at the work than I am.  

They have less experience, but more new ideas.

They have spent less time doing the grunt work educational technology and online learning, but they are more effective than I’ll ever be at project management, instructional design, group facilitation, and project leadership.

I’ve been working in educational technology for years - but I seem to know less about learning theory and research than many of my colleagues.  

Some of these folks have graduate degrees in fields related to education and instructional design (I don’t). 

Others come to the work from other jobs outside of higher education, but have adapted to the challenges of making an impact on a university campus with the zeal and energy of the convert.

Part of me wants to say to my colleagues who have been at this work for less time than I that they need to “pay their dues”. Spend years doing the non-glamours work of edtech, and by doing so earn a seat at the institutional decision making table.  

Now I wonder if the whole idea about dues paying is wrong.  

Wrong for catalyzing learning innovation.  

Wrong for nurturing organizational change.

What are your edtech blindspots?



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