Sunday, November 29, 2009

CCK09: The Changing Role of Educators

The role of instructional designers and educators is always evolving. The fact that in the last five years there has been an explosion of new tools and technology, will most definitely have a significant effect on the role of all educators and learners. I think that the increase of access to information and people via the web (content, connections and network communities), which will only continue to grow, already has educators at all levels rethinking their role and how they will adapt.

I see a lot of change being introduced with the innovators in the field, but I think there is a long way to go to for teachers and learners to take full advantage of new opportunities. “Web 2.0 saw a shift from static websites serving information, to dynamic communities engaged in a two-way conversation between publisher and audience - with the lines between the two ultimately being blurred beyond recognition.”(Thompson) The Flat Classroom project is a great example of how educators can adapt and establish new connections via the internet using Ning and wikispaces for global classroom collaboration.

I would describe the corporation I work for as a “slow adopter”. It is very conservation when implementing new tools and technologies. Microsoft SharePoint was introduced last year to some areas in the company to enable collaboration and information-sharing a between large and diverse groups of users. This has helped break down some of the silos that exist between departments by facilitating increased communication via discussion boards and document collaboration. What I have observed is that a lot of people use this new collaboration site the same way they used a LAN drive! Although there is training available (ILT or on-line) few seem to take advantage of learning about the functionality and benefits of the tool.

I found an interesting blog regarding personal vs. corporate IP rights by Tony Karrer. “What I'm suggesting is that learning departments should provide ready access to a set of tools and help employees (through training, resources, guide-by-the-side, etc.) learn how to use these tools and build skills in employees that ultimately makes them better tacit workers. Yes this does provide some formality to it. As a community, we need to think of ways to help people get better at learning”

I see a need for professional development for all employees, not just trainers. Employees need to learn new skills, not just software, but “techno-personal skills” the term used by Vicki Davis in her presentation about differentiating instruction. Trainers need to invest more time in their own personal development so they are more able to incorporate the use of new tools, and facilitate the growth of connections and interaction within the organization. I agree that it’s not really about the technology, but what the technology will let you do.

In the corporation I work for, access and interaction for the most part continue to be “under the control of the instructor”. Instructional design models have just started to change recently with a slow movement away from the traditional “training binder” mentality (ugh!), to the incorporation of a blended approach which includes e-learning, on-line content, and increased continuous learner support long after a learning event is over. Our department is working toward changing the old training model, by developing a new training strategy and rethinking how we can better support all learners in the corporation. One example is moving towards a performer support model which I believe will move us forward and can incorporate the establishment of new connections and networks within the corporation. I think “The Traditional Classroom Doesn’t Have to Die—It Just Needs to Change” (Gottfredson), but like any journey, it will take time.

Thompson, J. (2007). Is Education 1.0 ready for Web 2.0 students?

Retrieved November 28, 2009 from Flat Classroom Projects

Davis, Vicki: Technology Driven Differentiated Instruction

Karrer, Tony: eLearning Technology blog

Gottfredson, C: Performer Support: Learning at the moment of need