My name is Rebecca and I’m a Learning Technologist (Part 1)

I was talking to someone with a similar job to mine last week, and he told me that whenever anyone asks him what he does, and he replies with: ‘I’m a learning technologist’, the eyes of the person asking the question tend to glaze over. Should the questioner persevere and go on to ask what a learning technologist DOES, they usually leave the discussion feeling a mixture of confusion, bewilderment and boredom. And they often miss the point by then asking if he can fix their broadband.

I have been here many, many times, and now tell people that I’m a window cleaner. It’s just so much easier.

It’s a pertinent question though. What does a learning technologist do?

Most days – and especially at the moment, it being the first week of the new academic year –  I’m pulled in so many directions from the moment I walk into my office until the moment I sneak out of the building and across the road to the bus stop (I say sneak, because if anyone sees me, they will probably stop to ask for some help and I’ll miss my bus), that by the time I get home, I feel like this (scroll past the image below if you’re squeamish):

hellraiser-andrew-robinson12

Heaven knows why he’s smiling. For a start he has a serious tartar problem.

Anyway, when I got home last Wednesday, I thought about the (typical and pretty unremarkable) day I’d just had, and put this post onto LinkedIn:

‘Hello there. My name is Rebecca , I am a Learning Technology Manager, and today, I:

  • Did some film editing
  • Also did some website(s) development
  • Wrote help-sheets for academics who want to try lecture capture
  • Delivered VLE administration training to a group of Professional Support staff
  • Looked for appropriate web tools to use as part of a post graduate module that is going to be delivered using blended learning methods
  • Converted media files from .mpeg and .avi to .mp3
  • Enrolled staff to modules on our VLE
  • Gave telephone-based support to a member of staff with problems seeing their browser properly… …and another member of staff got some ad-hoc tuition on using Skype, via Skype!
  • Finished writing a taxonomy and a set of principles around the use of learning technology as part of the School’s UG module re-validation project
  • Arranged delivery of 50 webcams to staff at another site

The role of the learning technologist is massive, varied and ever-changing…and I wanted to do a snapshot of one day. And now I would like to ask any other learning technologists who are still reading this what they do on a typical day.’

I wasn’t sure what to expect response-wise (if anything), but here’s a selection:

‘This week I am in Iceland giving training, the previous two weeks were spent at conferences, learning lots from the community. I shall spend next week designing new resources, writing, reading, and liaising with expert practitioners.’

‘Did some editing, created a STAR WARS parody video to promote a new feature on the LMS (see below), met an SME about content,  tried to get onto a GoToMeeting that didn’t work, answered a post about what I did today. 🙂 . I do the school run on a Friday so didn’t get into the office until 10.30 and left at 2pm otherwise it would have been a busy one…’

‘Any day can be made up of…… Working within the LMS, making graphics, writing some code to do something tricky, be editor to learning material, converting video files, teaching others or myself how to do something new, be an L&D consultant, thinking outside of a box, making a talking head, analysing data, being an Excel support, recording a voice over, trying to stay ahead of the technology pack, solving technical problems, and finally developing elearning. LTs are often seen as the person who “writes those eLearns”, when in fact they typically are the core technical member of the L&D team with lots of tacit knowledge. They will have a diverse skill set ranging from programming to teaching, with plenty of creativity and lateral thinking thrown in for good measure.’

‘It’s always been so hard to explain to people what a learning technologist does. In fact, I didn’t know I was a learning technologist when I started out because the term wasn’t around 20 years ago. I’m now a Learning / Assistive Technologist. My days are probably fairly similar to yours. Today has been a bit unusual – I set the whole day aside to get a new course on MindView finished on Camtasia. Having said that, I’ve still helped a colleague to see her printer, taken about 5 phone calls, booked some students in for 1-1 sessions and replied to numerous emails. I’m about to start captioning all my videos now. Fun, isn’t it?!’

‘Every day is different and that’s the best thing about it. Yesterday I made some edits to a new resource that’s out for QA. Attended a meeting about a tech event for students. Embedded links in a few VLEs. Finished a CSS/Html page to sit in the VLE to signpost to ref support. Attended a meeting re another service I’m part of. Had a chat about an app my boss has developed. Arranged to peer review on a blended learning session. Investigated some older resources and whether they can be retired. Discussed what was finished in last academic year. Looked at some conflicting data in a report and created some charts for a colleague. The usual emails and blog post reading. Sounds like a lot when you write it down but yesterday wasn’t that busy. I love what I do.’

I’m going to see whether I get a few more responses before my next blog post, because I think I can see some patterns in practices and attitudes taking shape, and I’d like to see if they become any more substantive before I write anything else. One thing that this has proved though – the activities carried out by learning technologists are, as I suspected,  almost too many to count.

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