Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Academic skills using Learning Technology


I'm in danger of repeating ideas from previous posts but the Edgeless University does talk about the what I feel is the key issue facing Higher Education with regard to learning technologies. In fact, it expresses it very well. This the issue of staff skills or lack of it.

"Many academics find it hard to envisage the possibilities that technology affords, not least because often they lack the basic skills to use the new tools."

So why don't many or most academics gain these basic skills. We can break this down into time and motivation. Re. time - they don't have enough of it! I hear that a lot and there is no easy answer to this. All I can do is try and tailor what I offer to being somehow time-saving. Anyway, the report states:

"The answer is not to barrage teachers with imperatives to change how they behave, but to help them find space and the capacity to develop new ways of working for themselves. This needs more resources, incentives and support."

So, as always, successful use of Learning Technology can only occur it the wider strategic plan allows it to. Giving staff time and space to reflect on their teaching and learn new skills is something that is way off - certainly in my organisation.

On motivation, this is to do with the status of teaching against the status of research. Research is king! This is true of peer status and respect, true of caree profression, true thanks to the Research Assessment Exercise (which I need to know more about). I think in my organisation research is certainly the focus and is what drives and motivation staff more. However, time (or lack of it) also comes up when you talk to academics. It's no suprise that the use of learning technologies is at a more advanced stage in schools than in higher education. There isn't this duel role in school. There, teachers just teach! That's not to say that school teaching is easier as a result.

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