Small interventions, fundamental shifts

December 7, 2009

This morning I was at one of the Symposia at Ascilite 2009, Cascading Change: The role of social software and social media in educational intervention and transformation.

In recent years social media and social software tools and practices have been applied in numerous implementation and pilot studies in higher. Some have been driven by explicit educational goals, while others seem to have been inspired by the attractive, technical flexibility of an emerging decentralized landscape of loosely-coupled, networked tools and services and its alleged potential for changing the dominant patterns of institutional provision of ICT in education. This symposium brings together a diverse and international group of researchers to explore the problems and limitations of using social media as a leverage point for second-order change in higher education. It aims to engage contributors and the audience in theoretical and empirical reflection on possible directions for further conceptual and methodological development in that area.

This was an interesting debate and as is usually the case there wasn’t sufficient time for a lot of discussion. I was hoping with the Twitterfall screen up that we could have an online debate, however Twitter decided to have a big fail. Ah well.

One of the questions that came up was why with all these “interventions” why is change so slow or not happening.

My opinion is that these changes or interventions we make that we report at these conferences are always small and tiny and therefore can’t make a huge differences. We need to make major interventions at a institutional or even at a societal level if we are to effect fundamental change.

I also wonder if the culture of how we work is also a barrier to systematic change. In HE especially with a focus on research and publication, there is less incentive to effect change and more incentive to carry on researching and attending conferences and getting papers published.

People with the power to effect change do not (in the main) attend such conferences and therefore such changes do not happen at an institutional level.

Of course change does happen at an institutional level, but often with administrative systems rather than teaching and learning. For example does your institution use e-mail or MIS ?

As with the MIT OpenCourseWare and other similar initiatives in this area we can see that sometimes there can be fundamental shifts in the ways institutions work.

So how do we move things along…

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Ascilite Day #1

December 7, 2009

So here we are with the official start of the Ascilite 2009 Conference. As I write this it’s late Monday morning in Auckland, but late Sunday evening back home in the UK. It feels weird blogging and tweeting about the conference, whilst people I know back in the UK are getting ready to go to sleep.

With a traditional Māori welcome we then launched into the traditional conference openings from the great and the good.

The first keynote of the conference was form Dr Scott Diener of the University of Auckland. He is an advocate of Second Life and described how he saw how Second Life was going to change education. He was very passionate about Second Life and its use in education. He demonstrated his island live to the audience.

Now I have talked about Second Life before and as you may know I don’t really “get it”.

I either seem to be the technology luddite with the red flag walking in front of the Second Life car, or maybe Second Life is not this life changing and social changing technology that many think it is.

Now it may be just me, for example I can see some real potential and benefits of Augmented Reality technologies, but don’t see similar opportunities with Second Life.

Of course this doesn’t mean I am right, but what do you think?