about discovering passions

I was thinking about some questions that my committee asked me about how I came into LT, what developed my interests in LT, and then also what I would like to do when I’m finished with my PhD.

I came into LT came in by way of organizational development, organizational studies, and a background in management studies. I initially came to the University of Minnesota with intentions on perusing a PhD so I could get into the work of organizational development. Spending over a decade in corporate I came to learn certain things about myself and the kind of work I found rewarding. I liked working with individuals or small teams to address issues with larger scale implications, and I needed to be in environments which not only challenged me but gave me the opportunity to learn as I contributed to other’s learning. Shortly after beginning my graduate studies here two things happened simultaneously, I got my first formal university teaching experience and I began studying concepts in adult learning. The pairing of these experiences allowed me an interesting opportunity to couple preliminary exploration into the work of Malcolm Knowles’ concepts of andragogy, teaching strategies focused on engaging adult learners with the learning experience, Stephen Brookfield’s work which introduces critical pedagogy and critical theory to adult learning, and first hand practical experiences with adult learners in my very own classroom. My only previous experiences working with adult learners had been in the context of providing “education” about financial instruments or trading strategies, neither of which paid particular attention to the diversity of learner needs, motivations, end goals, or the necessity for me as educator to catering my “learning experiences” to match the learner. Unknowingly, this almost literal crash course would be my introduction into instructional design, a foundational concept in learning technologies.

As I forged forward and found teaching increasingly rewarding, I began to think about how the institutions of higher education positioned learning experiences for adult learners. Many learning experience designed for adult learners ignored Knowles’ key assumptions related to motivation for adult learners, that the adults know the reasons for the learning experience, that the experience provide a foundational information, that the adults be responsible for key decisions in their learning experience including planning and evaluation, that the learning subjects have immediate relevance to the work and/or professional lives of the adult learners, that the learning experience be problem-centered rather than content-oriented, and that adult learners respond best to internal, not external, motivators (Knowles, 1980). Of yet, I hadn’t thought of myself as an adult learner, until learning technologies appeared in my own learning experience. Having been in corporate environments, I had used different technologies in my periodic mandatory professional development and continuing education courses enough to know that I didn’t care for what I experienced as a very impersonal approach to content delivery. Now in the space of higher education, learning technologies amounted to learning management systems where students could retrieve course readings, and discussion boards for them to post comments and reflections. My frustrations with the space these technologies occupied eventually led to my trying to understand why faculty used various technologies for teaching and learning and why I would be expected to do the same should I continue to teach in higher education or if I wanted to do any work in the education of adult learners. This curiosity culminated in learning about how technology was very quickly shifting roles for instructors, particularly in higher education, necessitating them to move away from methods they had been trained in or roles they had prepared for (Kidd, Davis, & Larke, 2012; Yang & Cornelious, 2005).

My initial thinking’s about faculty preparedness to use technology for teaching and learning led me in the direction of faculty development and the professional development for faculty to embrace their evolving roles in a rapidly changing environment of higher education, and how technology was being integrated into the faculty experience.  I read about some of the origins of formalized study into faculty development (Centra, 1976; McKeachie, 1990), how professional development activities worked with faculty to embrace change in the environment (Caffarella, & Zinn, 1999; McKee,  Johnson,  Ritchie,  & Tew, 2013), and even how professional development programs worked with faculty to integrate technology into their teaching (Polly, Grant, & Gikas, 2011). These and many other readings helped me gain some perspective on the issue, but they unveiled more issues such faculty barriers to embrace or integrate technology (Kopcha, 2012) and the role of the institution in technology integration efforts in higher education (Kopcha, 2010; Georgina  & Olson, 2008) ultimately bringing me back to my foundational perspective lens, organizational development, and questions about what happens at the system level to ensure a greater chance of successful technology integration by addressing the most pressing issues of support for faculty as expressed in the literature.  Knowing that the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota has been engaged in a very intentional effort to integrate technology into teaching throughout the college, this environment presents me an opportunity to understand a large scale organizational development effort for technology integration by tracing it from the beginning to present.

When the Dean assumed her position in 2009 one of her initial goals was to increase the use of technology in teaching and learning throughout the College of Education Human Development. One of the first moves into doing that was hiring and setting up the team which included not just making sure that the office of information technology was equipped with the right infrastructure to be able to support technology integration, but making sure there was some leadership in place to be able to think about technology from an academic viewpoint. With this direction in mind she hired an director of academic technology who would spearhead the effort to think about technology from an academic perspective and keep faculty in mind when selecting different technologies for teaching and learning the college would support. The dean invited the director of academic technology and an assistant director of academic technology to think through how to best provide supports for faculty throughout the college. Further they hired an academic technologist for the college, increase the number of instructional designers, and then introduce an instructional technology fellows program of graduate students who would be embedded within each department throughout the college. With these structures in place there was also a need to introduce some very strategic and very am pointed programs to support faculty in their learning of new and various technologies. Out of this idea then came programs such as TREX.

What we’re looking at in CEHD from a systematic level is the administration made decisions that were made for technology integration within the college. This represents an organizational development (OD) initiative. A human resource development staff was put in place to facilitate key interventions (professional development program, various layers of internal support) designed to support the strategic development of the organization’s human resources, the faculty. How has the OD initiative of technology integration throughout the CEHD been effective?

Key terms/concepts to define: organization development, human resource development, change theory, systems theory, adult learning theory, experiential learning (organizational level and individual level).

Centra, J.A. (1976). Faculty Development Practices in U.S. College and Universities. Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service.

Caffarella, R. S., & Zinn, L. F. (1999). Professional Development for Faculty: A Conceptual Framework of Barriers and Supports. Innovative Higher Education, 23(4), 241-254.

Georgina, D. A., & Olson, M. R. (2008). Integration of technology in higher education: A review of faculty self-perceptions. Internet & Higher Education, 11(1), 1-8.

Kidd, T., Davis, T. & Larke, P. (2012). The Rhetoric of Fear: Examining the Construct of Fear and Computer Anxiety as it Relates to Faculty Engagement in Online Teaching. In P. Resta (Ed.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012 (pp. 511-516). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education (Rev. ed.). Chicago: Association Press.

Kopcha, T. J. (2012). Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development. Computers & Education, 59(4), 1109-1121.

Kopcha, T.J. ( 2010). A systems-based approach to technology integration using mentoring and communities of practice. Education Technology Research and Development, 58(2), p.175-190.

McKeachie, W. J. (1990, November). What theories underlie the practice of faculty development? Paper presented at the annual conference of the POD Network, Lake Tahoe, CA.

McKee, C. W., Johnson, M., Ritchie, W. F., & Tew, W. M. (2013). Professional Development of the Faculty: Past and Present. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2013(133), 15-20.

Polly, D., Grant, M., Gikas, J., (2011). Supporting Technology Integration in Higher Education: The Role of Professional Development. In D.W. Surry, R.M. Gray, & J.R. Stefurak, (eds.) Technology Integration in Higher Education: Social and Educational Aspects (58-71), Hersey, PA: IGI Global

Yang, Y., & Cornelious, L. F. ( 2005). Preparing instructors for quality online instruction. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 8

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