Should Job Titles Disappear from the #ELI2017 Conference Badge?

Thinking about changing a conference tradition.

February 3, 2016

I’m wondering if future educator meetings should leave job titles off the attendee conference badge?

Here at #ELI2016 the barriers between faculty and non-faculty, senior leader and hands-on practitioner, break down and melt away. At a conference like ELI, we are all first and foremost postsecondary educators.

We share a common theoretical framework (grounded in learning science), a shared language (technology and instructional design), and a collective set of challenges (all around learning).

Each of us arrives at a conference like ELI with a particular designation affixed to our conference badges - a job title. These job titles are literally worn around our neck - the second thing that people see when they look at our badge (after our name).

Here at ELI, however, our job titles are less salient than our projects, our networks, and our passions.

Job titles, I hypothesize, obscure more than they enlighten.

We look at our fellow conference goers badges and make assumptions about the influence and role of the badge wearer that are likely to be incomplete.

Our categorization into job titles feels like a 20th century tool mismatched to our 21st century challenges. (Particularly our challenges and the intersection of learning, technology, and higher ed).

Our job titles tend to categorize and fix us in what is in reality a dynamic and rapidly evolving system. Job titles have the danger of reifying institutional hierarchies - hierarchies that are destructive to an agenda of learning innovation and academic transformation.

In our increasingly complex and digitally mediated learning environments the contributions of a diversity of educators is required.

The culture of the #ELI2016 conference is one example of how a piercing of traditional status / power relations can generate creative thinking.

Can the equitable educator mindset that is present at ELI be transplanted back to our campuses?

Are there other educator gatherings that you attend where traditional job titles and hierarchies lose their saliency in the face of common goals and a shared sense of mission?

Can you advance this conversation by arguing for the value of job titles on our conference badges?

Should #ELI2017 experiment with losing the conference badge job titles?



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