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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Very smart, capable, aware people this week have been reduced to frustrated, desperate, luddites. It’s time to enter grades into the learning management system (LMS) and it has been painful….

People keep asking why can’t the academics just know what to do, after all grades happen twice a year and they do this all the time so why don’t they just know how it works?¬†Well, because it changes. First of all, upgrades and bug fixes mean that the LMS operates slightly differently each time. Also, there are at least 15 different reasons why something may not work so just because you know why your site total didn’t add up last time, the reason it doesn’t add up this time is completely different.

Academics by their profession are creative, challenging thinkers. They are not intrinsically technology literate and logical problem solvers. Of course this is a massive generalisation (I don’t support the information technology academics at all with the LMS!). But on the whole, the academics I’ve supported are qualitative researchers and creative, innovative teachers. Stepping through technology that is counterintuitive is not really their thing.

So to those people who keep asking why can’t academics just get it right? I say, because they are trying very hard to get everything else right, the LMS just doesn’t rate. Perhaps the question we should be asking, is how do we better support academics and their relationship with the LMS so that they don’t finish grade weeks feeling stupid and useless? Just my two cents worth.

I was told today that I didn’t get a job that I had gone for as there was someone with more experience. I like that. I like that I got beaten because there were so many strong candidates that I wasn’t good enough. It’s much better than not getting a job because you weren’t good enough to get it in your own right.

I’m also glad that the person who got the job is so experienced. It was an education role and we need good educators. We need strong people in these roles because universities are not full of strong educators. They have good educators, but they aren’t full of them. Interestingly, I’m not sure they should be.

Surely universities should be ‘full’ of researchers. Isn’t that the point of universities? Or should they be full of administrators? After all universities are now a business and should be run like one. Or should they actually be full of educators as universities are the producing the future inputs to production for the economy? Wouldn’t we prefer graduates who have been trained by the best? Or would we prefer graduates who have had access to the best researcher in the field? Is it possible to have both?

Hmmmmm I need to think more about how I can improve the world for academics so they can be both. How can I use my experience (which is less than someone else’s!) to support academics who want to be educators become so, or who are okay educators to become better? Hmmmmm time to rethink the approach in my current – especially as I’m going to be there longer than expected!

I was lucky enough to present with my colleague Shane at Moodleposium yesterday. When we were planning for the session he and I agreed that we wanted some knowledge from the attendees as well as sharing our experiences. As such, ewe asked a posit-it note question and got the answers into categories that we then shared. The question was, “Badges’ role in pedagogy is…”. What we got was:

Carrot concepts as the majority: “Encouragement” “gamification as open incentive” “encouraging excellence and participation” “reward, initiative for learning, significance of badges” “Recognition” Incentive” “Reward for effort and recognition of work completed” “motivation recognition”.

The next sort of category turned out to relate to retention type approaches: “Better learning?” social constructivist – fostering collective interest in learning” “motivation increase desire to learn and achieve” “it helps make scaffolding explicit” “verified competition” student tracking progress” “help you to know where your level is as a learner”

Then there were some ideas that didn’t really fit in to a set theme: “life of badges without e-portfolio” “to recognise skills that are not 100% part of the university curriculum BUT have value for other societal functions” “recognition of prior learning”

So what do Shane and I do with this feedback now? Well in relation to the bolt on modules that have been developed we can place their purpose more clearly within the carrot framework and think harder about the retention aspects. Providing students with instant knowledge of where they are at in their learning is key to the success of the modules, but is one aspect I’ve not put enough thought into. We also haven’t promoted the use of the modules to academics for uptake by students, but this feedback provides a strong basis to develop that communique from. I feel like I’ve let a good project slide a little because of time. Having this feedback helps provide incentive to pick it up again. Now to see what else I can let slide!

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