Friday, March 11, 2011

TREND: Changing Roles in Higher Education

Derek Bruff, Dwayne Harapnuik, and Jim Julius in their Chronicle of Higher Education article, "Revolution or Evolution? Social Technologies and Change in Higher Education" discuss the adviseability of and likelihood of transformational change in the adoption of new technologies by faculty.

Key Points:

1. New technologies provide new learning 'affordances' but is a social technology revolution possible in an environment that values incremental change at best and no change at worst?
2. The authors narrate the story of a recent interactive session during the annual conference of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Saint Louis.
3. POD's are located in faculty development offices on most campuses and are active in attempting to improve faculty teaching through change initiatives.
4. Ideas from POD
a. The model for information flow has changed from an industrial one to a filtering one.
b. We have shifted from an Instructional Paradigm to a Learning Paradigm. This is reflected in Monica Raskin's "Twitter Experiment" at University of Texas at Dallas. Bruff, et al ask whether this is the change we need to be drawn toward?

c. Some have argued for this radical shift:

d. POD Prezi Presentation

5. POD group's examples of "roadblocks, obstacles, and speed bumps" toward this shift.
a. Faculty as proto-Luddites
b. Faculty need for models
c. Faculty loss of control when shifting
d. Faculty don't see it as a personal, professional, or university priority
e. Faculty don't have the 'geek' openness to new tech ideas
f. Faculty remain unconvinced of advantages over status quo
6. Here is an online document outlining their discussion and another interactive one using Google Forms to focus the previous one.
7. The biggest challenges?
a. The move from sage to the side, from prof-centered to student-centered.
b. Sharing effective models with other faculty
8. The authors do not explicitly answer whether it should be evolutionary or revolutionary; instead, they invite the readers to join.

Comments to Article:

9. You have to address faculty fears either way. Fierce autonomy, fear of being made redundant by technology, lack of clear cost/benefit analysis--these are all examples of the fear that fills reluctant colleagues.
10. Access to the tools of change along with a way to 'unstrand' colleagues will lead to change of both kinds.
11. "Most profs are amateurs when it comes to teaching"--improving learning no matter the tech (3X5 cards, face-to-face sims, Twitter). Focus on making the amateurs into pros.
12. References to book Nineshift
13. "Revolutions require ubiquity."
14. Administrative motive is suspect--use tech to save money is first priority.


Failure to address this question simply kicks the can down the road for someone else to address and it may well be that a ginned up crisis or a real crisis will reduce the options we once had much like the climate change deniers may have damned our options in addressing carbon buildup in the atmosphere.

Being out of step with out students might be considered quaint by some. It might be thought that faculty are the last bulwark against the barbarian-students at the gate. Whatever rationale is given for sticking to the status quo ante-technology, it is clear that these 'good deeds' will not go unpunished. For-profit companies are gaming both student desires and federal money in an ugly takeover attempt. If you want to look at a school 'too big to fail' just consider University of Phoenix. This purity of the academe will be it death.

Lastly, the comment above that most professors are amateurs not pros is the dirtiest little secret of the ivory tower. Faculty development does yeoman work on our own campus considering how underpowered and de-valued it is. But the greatest sin is that it can be safely ignored by tenured faculty. And, honestly, it is ignored and without moral or professiona or personal hazard. One of the most morally bankrupt results of this is that those who have the power often and regularly do not exercise it for students but rather for their professional and personal selves. Yes, that is the foul cruft of corruption in the air and it is the most dangerous threat to the thousand year tenure of the University.

Hacker, P. (11:00 am). Revolution or Evolution? Social Technologies and Change in Higher Education. ProfHacker. The Chronicle of Higher Education, . Retrieved March 11, 2011, from

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