Why Ideological Diversity Might Be a Strength Of the EdTech Profession

Where conservatives and liberals come together on campus?

February 8, 2016

Hypothesis 1: The higher ed technology profession is more politically / ideologically diverse than the higher ed workforce as a whole.

Hypothesis 2: This political diversity is a source of strength.

What do you think?

As a social scientist, I wish that i had some data to support or refute these hypotheses.

The conclusion that the edtech profession is more politically diverse than higher ed as a whole is based solely on my own observations. I’ve spent time across a number of different roles in higher ed - from faculty (sociology) to technology to teaching and learning centers.

From what I’ve observed, the campus technology folks cover a wider range political orientations than what I saw amongst the faculty (certainly in sociology), and in other roles on campus.

Colleagues in administrative computing - including network engineers, developers, and system administrators - are all over the place in their political leanings. However, from what I have been able to tell - our most highly technical colleagues are as likely to be politically conservative as they are politically liberal.

Many of the people that I know of in software development tend to have some libertarian leanings.

Some engineers value order, regularity, and consistency - and therefore may align well with more traditional conservative thinking.

Folks on the academic side of technology - the learning people - in my experience tend to run on the more politically liberal side of things. These professionals often come from other professions in teaching and non-profit policy work that tend to align (although certainly not always) with more politically liberal leanings.

Part of this story may be related to gender. The learning side of the edtech profession is much better represented by women than on the administrative side - and women (on average) tend to be more politically liberal than guys.

Again - professional in higher ed technology will be all over the political map.  I’m not saying that all administrative computing folks are conservative, and all learning technology folks are liberal. What I am saying is that there is room for a range of political perspectives in edtech - and that people with different ideological orientations may feel more or less comfortable in different edtech settings.

This political diversity in the edtech profession (if it is real) is - I believe - a real source of strength.  Groups with greater diversity are better at problem solving and creative thinking. A mix of orientations and viewpoints amongst edtech teams will lead to better questions. Groupthink will (hopefully) be avoided.

It is not that politics comes up in meetings with higher ed technology professionals. Rather, I think that higher ed technology professionals have the potential to work more effectively together given their diversity.

Do these observations on the political diversity of the edtech profession match your own?

What are other ways that our edtech profession is less or more diverse?

Is it possible to open up a space for discussion about diversity (all types of diversity) at the intersection of higher ed and technology?

Do you know of any data that may support or disconfirm my hypotheses?



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