Friday, June 23, 2006

Pedagogy and/or Technology is there a cultural divide

Michael Webb has commented in response to my post on insourcing or outsourcing for Social Software suggesting that 'maybe it's not a case of having a pedagogic driven model vs a technology driven model but both sides working together?'

I grant that I was charecterising your position Michael. But my experience leads me to wonder if it is possible to have a perfect world, though I wish we could.

I think however that most people stand somewhere off the middle of the technology push-learning pull continuum. i.e. They include a bias which either says we have this technology so lets find a use for it, or we have this learning encounter what technology can I/we use to enhance it.

I hope the best of us are close to the median point, but I know that for myself it is using the technologies I currently know to enhance learning and teaching, and not acquiring lots of new technologies which is my focus. Hence people like me need people like you - innovative teaching and learning needs innovators in technological development but these skills are similar but not the same.

I understand the argument that there are Instructional Design roles which combine these foci, but in HE at least my experience has been that Instructional Designers, and I know some very good ones, are either technically strong but not conversant with the subject or people who have moved from lecturering the subject and have adapted the technologies. There are some notable exceptions, but for me these tend to confirm not deny the rule.

The answer I guess is for far greater collaboration between technical, academic, library and support staff in developing and designing learning, and this model is one which JISC are strongly supporting and reflects the experience we had during the ECW project. However the resources available from the EU for that project means it is not a model we could embed in the rest of our learning and teaching practice. Thus, until HEIs have a radical change in funding I suspect the difference in approach between those at the VLE face doing the management and design of their delivery alone at evenings and weekends, and those in IS and Learning Support with more systems and process driven perspectives may continue to need intermediaries to provide interaction, and us intermediaries will tend to be biased towards our own roots and backgrounds, however hard we try.

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