And on that fateful day, when my (then) line manager told me that I needed to choose between the path I was already treading – that of the lecturer – and the route I was constantly meandering over to: the path of the learning technologist, he told me to choose carefully. ‘If you decide to be a learning technologist’ he said cautiously ‘you will walk around with an invisible target on your chest.’
Turns out he was wrong. It’s not a target I have emblazoned across my chest, but a question mark.
Nobody knows what I do. Everyone thinks they know, but they are always, always wrong. It can be best encapsulated by a corridor-based chat I had with a lecturer just before Christmas. It went something like this:
Lecturer: ‘Ah, Bex, I’m glad I bumped into you. I can’t seem to get my computer linked to my printer.’
Me: ‘Ah. You need to have a chat with the IT support team about that.’
Lecturer ‘But you work in IT!’
And there it is. And there it always is. Today another lecturer popped into the office to tell my colleague that he couldn’t get the projector screen to display anything in a lecture theatre. And when my colleague pointed out that it wasn’t her job to fix it, he was surprised. Because we work in technology, ergo, we fix computers.
So what do we do about it. It’s simple enough: the first word of our job title is LEARNING. The second is technology. Yet that first word seems to be missing, so as far as anyone knows, we are working in learning TECHNOLOGY.
It’s a battle I’m know many in my role are fighting. The odds are stacked against us though. Generally (though this is slowly changing) learning technologists are employed on non-teaching, administrative contracts. This is at odds with what we want to do: consult with teaching staff and show them how best to enhance teaching and learning with a technological bent, to carry out research into the use of technology in practice and, quite simply, to make teaching better. But when I use words such as ‘pedagogy’ (or, God forbid, ‘heutagogy’) or talk about digital literacy, or how to engage students with peer assessment techniques that involve technology, people look at me as if I have just given the Pope a wedgie.
And so I spend my days enrolling staff to courses on our LMS, showing people how to embed YouTube videos into PowerPoint slides and copying and pasting content from paper-based rubrics into Grademark. So I ask – no, plea – for some guidance.
How do I get rid of this question mark?