Today I facilitated a faculty development workshop at Aurora University, sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the IT Department. I always enjoy sessions like this, particularly with the ability to focus our discussions squarely on technology in support of teaching and learning. The session was titled “Emerging Trends in Educational Technology and Implications for Faculty”. Below are very rough notes, slides, and a follow-up.
Apparent Dilemma and Challenge
Building off of previous presentations at ITC Network, there is an apparent dilemma:
- One one hand, little has changed: Despite all the hype and investment in ed tech, there is only one new fully-established LMS vendor in the past decade (Canvas), and the top uses of LMS are for course management (rosters, content sharing, grades). Plus the MOOC movement fizzled out, at least for replacing higher ed programs or courses.
- On the other hand, everything has changed: There are examples of redesigned courses such as Habitable Worlds at ASU that are showing dramatic results in the depth of learning by students.
The best lens to understand this dilemma is Everett Rogers’ Diffusions of Innovations and the technology adoption curve and categories. Geoffrey Moore extended this work to call out a chasm between Innovators / Early Adopters on the left side (wanting advanced tech, OK with partial solutions they cobble together, pushing the boundary) and Majority / Laggards on the right side (wanting full solution – just make it work, make it reliable, make it intuitive). Whereas Moore described Crossing the Chasm for technology companies (moving from one side to the other), in most cases in education we don’t have that choice. The challenge in education is Straddling the Chasm (a concept I’m developing with a couple of consulting clients as well as observations from e-Literate TV case studies):
This view can help explain how advances in pedagogy and learning approaches generally fit on the left side and have not diffused into mainstream, whereas advances in simple course management generally fit on the right side and have diffused, although we want more than that. You can also view the left side as faculty wanting to try new tools and faculty on the right just wanting the basics to work.
The trend in market moving away from walled garden offers education the chance to straddle the chasm.
Implications for Faculty
1) The changes are not fully in place, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride. One example is difficulty in protecting privacy and allowing accessibility in tools not fully centralized. Plus, the LTI 2.0+ and Caliper interoperability standards & frameworks are still a work in progress.
2) While there are new possibilities to use commercial tools, there are new responsibilities as the left side of chasm and non-standard apps require faculty and local support (department, division) to pick up support challenges.
3) There is a challenge is balance innovation with the student need for consistency across courses, mostly in terms of navigation and course administration.
4) While there are new opportunities for student-faculty and student-student engagement, there are new demands on faculty to change their role and to be available on the students’ schedule.
5) Sometimes, simple is best. It amazes me how often the simple act of moving lecture or content delivery online is trivialized. What is enabled here is the ability for students to work at their own pace and replay certain segments without shame or fear of holding up their peers (or even jumping ahead and accelerating).
One item discussed in the workshop was how to take advantage of this approach in Aurora’s LMS, Moodle. While Moodle has always supported the open approach and has supported LTI standards, I neglected to mention a missing element. Commercial apps such as Twitter, Google+, etc, do not natively follow LTI standards, which are education-specific. The EduAppCenter was created to help with this challenge by creating a library of apps and wrappers around apps that are LTI-compliant.