Theory, Practice & Mobile Social Media #ece11
Background; This blog post is related to a workshop at the Education for a Changing Environment Conference at Salford University to be held at 11.30am on Friday July 8th 2011, using this presentation. The purpose of the workshop is to look at how we might embed the practices of technology stewardship within and across institutions in such a way that attendees have practical take-home messages for their institutions. You can join in using the Salford meet online link (now finished)
Theory, Practice & eTeams; The starting point for the workshop is the three-fold approach highlighted in the sub-title, Theory, Practice and mobile Social Media.
Firstly the theory is based on Nigel Ecclesfield and my writings on Architectures of Participation on this blog, which seek to identify appropriate institutional behaviours in networked post Web 2.0 worlds.
Secondly, the practice of Paul Lowe as a solitary Technology Steward at the University of the Arts proselytizing the practices of his successful M.A. in Photo-journalism.
Thirdly, Thomas Cochrane’s long-term strategic approach to embedding the use of mobile social media at Unitec, NZ by developing the idea of a technology steward representing a set of responsibilities embedded within communities of practice, eTeams, rather than being a separate identifiable role.
What is a Technology Steward? Etienne Wenger describes a Technology Steward as being the person who is capable at walking at 45 degrees between the institutional hierachies within which we work, and the flat-world affordances of networked technologies, particularly mobile technologies, what Mike Sharples calls bringing the informal into the formal. We might also see this as reflecting a similar tension between learning processes and institutional demands for assessment and administration. The Technology Steward is the person who can broker positive learning outcomes between networks and hierarchies. “Being a technology steward has very little to do with being an expert technology user, instead it’s much more about understanding the connections and interactions of human networks”
1. Heutagogy and institutional technology stewardship; this workshop is, in part, developed from an earlier presentation given at CAL11 and outlined in the earlier Technology Steward post on this blog. We were inspired by Thomas Cochrane’s creative use of our PAH Continuum, presented as a table here, to help with the design of technology use on the B.A Product Design at Unitec, NZ. The LGC group think that frameworks to help the thinking of practitioners could be seen as a useful Learning Design tool, and Thomas’s use of the PAH Continuum (see his mlearning Prezi) seemed to confirm this. Inspired by this and his detailed ALT-J article on Critical Success Factors, Nigel and I thought that a similar, ‘heutagogic’ framework on Technology Stewards might help institutions adopt an Architecture of Participation and become ‘adaptive institutions’. The table below represents how we summed that up, and is the first of our three ideas for discussion. Note that we also felt it necessary to qualify the table by identifying underpinning Literacies at each level; Organisational, Learning and Digital.
Conclusion; Three Levels of Technology Stewards
|Strategic||PVC||Technical Infrastructure||Enabling Platform|
|Staff||Course Team||Learning Resources||Learning Ecology|
|Students||Students Union||New Technologies||Resource Discovery|
Literacies; A further requirement needed to make this work are “literacies” about the responsibilities at each level that the Technology Stewards are operating on. We feel at the Strategic level that Pro-Vice Chancellors, or equivalent on senior management teams need an Organisational Literacy, in order to understand how a technology infrastructure. Staff need to be aware of what Learning Literacy is needed to be successful at study. Students need to be aware of the Digital Literacies necessary to be successful networked learners.
We think that this is best seen as a framework for thinking about the roles of a technology steward.
2. The practice of being a Technology Steward; Paul Lowe’s approach came from his own passionate advocacy as a Technology Steward at the University of the Arts and emerged out of a JISC workshop with Etienne Wenger on Digital Habitats. Having developed and designed an MA in Photojournalism, having been a practicing war photographer himself, he wanted to maximize the opportunities for his students to learn what he and, crucially, other skilled photographers had learnt in their practice. He found a way of doing this using the learning platform Wimba which enabled him to run sessions with famous photographers around the world, with students from the same provenance. Now an educationalist, and a practicing technology steward, who is successfully brokering between his institutional requirements and the networks of his professional practice; perhaps he is what Wenger calls a tech-mentor, Paul has sought to share his approach with us. Like Thomas Cochrane, he was enthused to share his practice because of the student engagement and learning successes that it generated.
3. Building Communities of Practice using mobile social media; On first discovering Thomas Cochrane’s work I was impressed with how he had looked at a pedagogically sound way of embedding mobile technology use for learning across a degree. As he put it the “pedagogical Integration of Mobile devices can provide a catalyst for pedagogical change towards a social constructivist pedagogy facilitating student-generated content and student-generated contexts beyond the classroom.” It was interesting how he matched both an evolving use of mobile technology, and an increasing degree of student self-management, to an evolving approach to assessment, over the four years of the B.A in Product Design. However in the same way that Mike Wesch enables his students to do make amazing videos in his Digital Ethnography classes by working with his University admin to allow it, Thomas had spent four years developing a strategic approach to the use of mobile technologies and in identifying Critical Success Factors. Then in embedding mobile use for learning Thomas also used a Community of Practice approach, embedding and distributing further responsibilities across course teams; action research, continuing professional development and co-design of technology use.
Workshops with Etienne Wenger; Interestingly both Thomas Cochrane and Paul Lowe ran workshops with Wenger at their institutions around the ideas in his work on Digital Habitats and looking at what a Technology Steward might do. Not everyone can do this of course, but in each case they used the workshops and events as springboards for reviewing how they used technology for learning, what roles differing people might play and how they might change institutional strategies.
Suggested take-home strategies; In terms of how this workshop is structured obviously we see three basic strategies;
Theoretical; bringing together a range of approaches in an enabling framework,
Practical; in terms of individual responsibilities that build on good practice,
Strategic one aimed at addressing several institutional issues underpinned by embedding a community of practice approach in course teams.
Workshop Issues; which of these three approaches inspires you? What ideas within them sound most useful? How might you take them back to your institution and make them happen.
You might want to consider organizing workshops, bringing in guest speakers such as Wenger, or others, so you can debate these issues with colleagues.
You might want to look to get a Technology Steward(s) appointed with clear roles and responsibilities acting as evangelist for new modes of learning based on their own practice.
You might want to focus on course teams or course planning and take a Community of Practice approach with a number of ancillary concerns in terms of responsibilities, planning, co-design, student-generated content, student-generated contexts.
You might want to share your emerging practice in the professional communities to which you feel a part of.
You might want to raise discussions with PVC Learning and Teaching on how to change, develop, or extend existing practice based on the above
Comments & Questions; welcome below.
References for this workshop;
Join via Elluminate (no longer active)
Thomas Cochrane on e-Teams (Google Doc)
Caroline Haythornthwaite on New Forms of Doctorate in a networked world
Fuller discussion of the PAH Continuum