about what centers me…

I was recently asked a very interesting question in regards to my work as an educator and scholar, what centers me. Answering this question first made me think how I understood the question theoretically.

As a learning technologist, finding innovative ways to integrating technology into teaching and learning experiences is at the core of much of what I do. From a constructivist perspective, I believe it is important that learners engage in experiences in such a way that they are creating meaning of their world for themselves. Within the classroom this may mean that although we are having a shared learning experience, we all come into it from different place and with different experiences having shaped our perspective of the current experience. As such, different parts of this shared experience will carry different meaning and impact each of us in very different ways. All of this difference informs, I believe, how individuals construct knowledge and make meaning in ways which may be directly applicable to their worlds.

Identifying as a learning technologist, I do take a critical perspective to how technology in teaching and learning situations impacts the dynamics of power. The ability to use technology tools to access and manipulate information in ways to support learning are a great strength of technology as a resource in learning.

To think about what might center me right now in my development as a scholar and thinker, just makes me realized that I have much to continue thinking about…

about flipped learning

The flipped classroom and flipped learning experiences

bicycle_JPEGIncreasing and varied technologies within the current environment of teaching and learning have turned the attention of many educators to the idea of the flipped classroom and flipped learning experiences. There persists, however, very different notions of what it means to facilitate “flipped” sessions.

A prevailing idea of flipped learning experiences has instructors simply creating video or other multimedia content, uploading it to a course web space for students to “consume” outside of class, then students return to the classroom to complete assignments and work through problem sets. This model of “flipping” does indeed substitute lecture-instruction and homework for each other, presumably freeing instructors to support students completing assignments and preparing for exams. With schools under heavy scrutiny and assessment and measurement being the primary concern, it is understandable that “flipping” this way is popular. Unfortunately for students, this model does little to encourage or support learning.

A flipped learning experience, when imagined more thoughtfully, does offer the opportunity for learners to be more engaged with and demonstrate mastery of course material by applying knowledge rather than simply absorbing information. Considering the learning objectives of any given course or sections within a course an instructor can organize them from basic to more advanced by levels of complexity. This allows for students to tackle less complex ideas and issues outside of class on their own, then build on that knowledge and address more complex ideas within the social environment of the classroom. Doing this does require thoughtfulness and flexibility by the instructor because it may mean re-ordering content and materials from how it is presented in a text to allow learners the space to develop their thinking. This reordering makes it so that instructors can create more meaningful video and multimedia content for students to access outside of class and provide a structure so that in-class sessions can be rich with topical discussions and activities.

Flipping sections or an entire course in a purposeful and intentional way affords learners very rich opportunities to think and develop ideas in ways that are personal, meaningful, and applicable to their worlds. This is learning!

about multiple device workflow

A colleague recently asked me about my “device workflow”. She noticed that I use different devices for different purposed, and am able to use the different devices to produce various types of content. This made me think about how, for example, I use my iPad in my workflow.

I don’t always have my laptop with me, but my mobile devices make it easy to keep working on projects and documents even when I’m away from the desk. Using my iOS tablet, iBooks is great for storing PDF’s I can read even when I don’t have WiFi. I use Neu Annotate to make notes on on PDF when I need to. Evernote is really nice for making notes of ideas I might develop later in a project or paper, while Google Docs and Slides make it easy to keep the work going while I’m waiting anywhere with a WiFi signal (like the doctor’s office, having coffee or lunch, or waiting for class to start).

The flexibility of this mobile device makes it very easy to leave my laptop in the office, but stay productive when I’m in different spots on and off campus.

about AECT 2014

#twitterfeed, #AECT14

November 4-7 I attended the 2014 International Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). This is one the premier conferences in our field put out by the body which publishes one of our handbooks.

Scholars from all over the world came to share how their work bridges Learning, Design, and Technology. I was fortunate be able to present two of my papers at the conference.

I Participated in a fantastic interactive keynote by Johannes Cronje! I think his 2006 article adds a very interesting perspective to the Objectivist-Constructivist discussion in our field. This article has been foundational in my finding my identity within the field.

My colleagues Josh, Engin, Jolie, Angel, Brad, and Tasneem were also there share their brilliance.

Jacksonville was a great host!

Some of photographic highlights!

about scholarly identity (ies)…

I am a learning technologist. My interests are in technology integration in the spaces where adults learn. I think that learning technology can be transformative. It can transform how you think. It can transform what you do. It can transform how you think about what you do.

I believe technologies have affordances which can impact how information is communicated. The communication of information by technology can influence learning by using the variety of media to convey information in different ways making it accessible to the spectrum of learners.

My research centers at the intersection of technology integration and adult learning. What are the experiences of adults learning technology and learning with technology? A secondary exploratory strand in my research are the barriers and supports, both in the institutional systems and social environments, which impact learning technology for adult learners.

My development as a researcher has been heavily influenced by naturalistic traditions. I believe there is great value in interpretations of lived experiences and that social context is important to gaining understanding. What is learned in one experience, though maybe not generalizable, may be helpful to understanding other situations.

My pedagogy is driven by a critical perspective toward technology in learning experiences. Working with other adult learners, be they undergraduate students, k-12 teachers, higher education faculty, or other professionals, it is fundamentally important to me that the learner feel agency in their learning. Technology is adopted for different reasons and at different paces, I think it is important to meet learners where they are and build from there. This constructive perspective can facilitate adults having transformative learning experiences and shifting to being more self-directed in their learning technology.

My developing scholarship lends voice to the experiences of adults learning technology. My current work addresses learners underprepared for technology rich higher education learning environments, k-12 teachers in STEM and other disciplines learning different contexts for teaching with technologies, in-service higher education faculty retooling their technological skill-sets, and supporting technology adoption in higher education.

Andzenge, 2014

about research writing

I’m reading Wolcott’s Writing Up Qualitative Research and he makes many points which resonate with me and are helping me find footing as a writer, researcher, and writer about research.

First point: write often, write lots, write everything! I’ve been someone who like to externalize as part of my thinking processes and this has typically taken the form of me talking either to myself or with colleagues. Wolcott believes there is value in doing that, but in this profession where we are only as valuable as our publications, which requires writing, we need to work and work hard at making writing easier on ourselves. For some of us this may mean that we practice, practice, practice, and write the things we would otherwise think about or talk out with colleagues. This writing may not be pretty, but it will definitely be valuable in developing our voice as a writer. And this is the second point for me so far…my writing voice.

I’ve struggled for the past several years with writing as a “budding researcher”. I come out of rhetorical tradition of expository writing. Now on the one hand, this could be an excellent preparation for writing as a researcher. I know well how to present an idea, explain and analyze information, and offer relevant evidence to develop and support my ideas, but I’ve long done this without the burden of being perceived as an “authority” on subjects. The work in which I’m currently engaged and the world I’m working to gain entry that of authority. Frankly I find the prospect of writing in a voice of authority very intimidating. Wolcott, however, offers a perspective on writing about qualitative research. The space where “thick description” can be a highly valued attribute of good qualitative write-up is a space where I might find my voice as a writer in  and of research.

Write often, write lots, write everything and be descriptive…I sense something formulating.

Referenced text: Wolcott, H. F. (2009). Writing up qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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