Unit 3, Activity 3: Reflection on George Velatsianos Podcast

One talking point of George Velatsianos’s podcast that resonated with me was the idea that we shouldn’t always focus on technology. It reminded me of a situation I faced in a previous job; a new software application was being implemented that would house our department’s documentation and help automate our processes. While the application was very promising, I felt that those in charge of its implementation were too focused on the end result (i.e., how the application would work) as opposed to what was required to reach the end result. Subsequently, other work started to be ignored in favor of it being put into the new application, yet the implementation process dragged on for over a year, leaving our team further behind that when we started. At one point I tried to convince my colleagues that we were focused on the wrong issue and simply said “It’s just a tool”, but this was also ignored. If this were to happen in an educational setting, it’s possible that students could be deprived of a great educational experience in favor of a fancy technology, which I think everyone would agree, beats the purpose of implementing technology. However, much like George said that there are many positives and opportunities of being present online, this is also true of technology in education, so I remain optimistic that educational researchers have the best interests of students in mind when they propose such technologies.

As some of you know, I have already completed LRNT 523, and assuming this year’s class will be assigned the same readings, you will be reading Martin Weller’s 25 Years of EdTech. It outlines technologies that have been introduced over the past 25 years, one technology per year. One of the interesting themes that I gleaned from this book was that some technologies were not readily accepted when they were first introduced. Connecting this with the idea that we shouldn’t always focus on technology, I wonder why then some technologies are accepted and some are not. As well, for those technologies that aren’t accepted, I wonder if it’s because they are addressing the wrong issue, and as George suggested, instead need to be addressed through a policy or process change, or whether it’s due to it being a weak technology?

Another talking point of the podcast that resonated with me was the advice George gave about researching what interests you. This is very timely as I now have to focus on what my topic will be for my applied research project or digital learning research consulting project. I can’t say I know the answer to that question just yet, so likely I will have to do further research to see what’s out there and hopefully I can find a topic that I am both interested in and motivated to learn. 

 

References

Veletsianos, G. (2021, August 11). Personal interview [Personal interview].

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.

 

Unit 1, Activity 3: What makes a good research question

According to Lipowski (2008), while formulating a good research question is paramount in research, there is little guidance on how to do so, however, it is a skill that can be cultivated through colleagues and mentors. It is proposed that researchers follow these three steps to develop a good research question:

1. Ask interesting questions

Researchers should consider their personal experiences when formulating a research question by considering what is currently missing or problematic in their field of study. Emotional and reason should also be considered as it is suggested that “good questions arise from both intellectual and visceral responses to the…environment” (p. 1667).  New researchers can also rely on their inexperience in their field of study when contemplating a research question. Overall, it is important to remember that “interesting research questions always challenge assumptions, and the presence of assumptions confirms that a study poses a sound research question” (p. 1669).

2. Select the best question for research

While inquisitive minds can formulate many interesting questions, it is suggested that researchers should also consider formulating a research question from the analysis of evidence and the goal of their project, and to avoid questions that are too broad. Overall, it is important to remember that “a research question is a logical statement that progresses from what is known or believed to be true to that which is unknown and requires validation” (p. 1668). 

3. Turn the research question into a testable question

Researchers should consider formulating a research question based on a measurable hypothesis. It is suggested that hypotheses predict the answers to research questions, and thus, “hypotheses are statements, that, if true, would explain the researchers’ observations” (p. 1669). Overall, it is important to remember that “research should not be embarked on with the idea that the empirical evidence will prove truth”, but rather “research can…demonstrate the utility of an idea within a specific context” (p. 1670).

 

References

Lipowski, E. E. (2008). Developing great research questions. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy : American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy65(17), 1667-1670. http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=b1903395-d1c6-4880-a954-c1b3f6ad374a%40sessionmgr103

 

 

Unit 3, Activity 3: Visual Network Mapping

My visual network map consists of 4 main areas: Facebook (51 connections), Linkedin (3 connections), Discord – MALAT Program 2020 – 2022 (16 connections), and Slack – MALAT Program 2021- 2023 (26 connections). I currently only have one connection that that connects to two different areas, but I imagine this will change as I grow my Linkedin network. 

Here is the PDF of my visual network map since the image below is a bit small. 

Unit 2, Activity 3: Digital Identity Digital Presence Plan

As I mentioned in my visitor-resident map, I have purposely made my digital presence small, so being asked to cultivate it further isn’t a simple task. I recently listened to an interview with Noel Gallagher, and when asked about the reach and affect of his music, he said “once a song is out there, it doesn’t belong to you anymore” (RadioX, 2021, 06:17). This is the best way I can describe my hesitancy in cultivating a digital identity and digital presence (DIDP) – once it’s out there, it doesn’t belong to me anymore. I also take to heart the words of Schryver (2013) in “that much of what [I] post will last forever, and can be seen by anyone” (para. 16).

DIDP Goal

Jenkins (2013) offers a compelling point that “many people on YouTube are producing media because there’s something vitally they want to share” (02:18). I propose that this can also apply to a person’s DIDP. Right now, I don’t really know what I want to vitally share; I am still relatively new and getting to know the field of learning and technology and haven’t found my niche. So, while I may not be in a position to share, I am in the position to learn, so the overall goal of my DIDP is to immerse myself in the field of learning and technology to find areas of interest and connect with individuals who can share their experiences with me.

DIDP Strategies and Approaches

My first approach is to grow my Linkedin network as I currently only have 3 connections. I’m typically a quality over quantity type of person, so I’m not going to designate a specific number of connections, but rather I plan to connect with those that I can learn from and potentially work and collaborate with.

My second approach is to start a digital portfolio to showcase my work to potential employers. During my break after LRNT 522, I am considering taking the IDOL courses Academy as it will give me the opportunity to start building a portfolio and light the fire under my feet to ensure it gets done. I can then supplement this portfolio with work from the MALAT program when I return next spring.    

Measuring Success

Measuring the success of these approaches will mainly stem from my own satisfaction that I was able to accomplish them. While that may sound like a cop-out, I don’t want to rely on the number of connections I make or the number of visits to my portfolio to measure their success. Since I am breaking away from my comfort zone, I don’t want the added pressure of not achieving a numbers goal – I want my DIDP’s success to be based on its authenticity, and as said by Watters (2015), its ability “to track [my] growth and demonstrate [my] new learning” (para. 19) over the course of this program and my career.

 

References

Jenkins, H. (2013, May 7). Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture (Big Thinkers Series) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gPm-c1wRsQ&

Radio X. (2021, April 29). Noel Gallagher reflects on being attached on stage [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHvQsWwDYEk

Schryver, K. (2013, February 5). Who Are You Online? Considering Issues of Web Identity. The New York Times blogs. https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/guest-post-who-are-you-online-considering-issues-of-web-identity/

Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need To Give Students. Bright. https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.a2rmav7fp

 

 

Thoughts on Dave Cormier’s Alternative Tension Pair

Dave Cormier (2018) proposes an interesting addendum to Dave White’s Visitor-Resident typology by considering where professional practice fits within the mapping activity. With regards to my own visitor-resident typology map, considering professional practice does not change where my current entries fall, but rather causes more to be added (e.g., printer, digital camera, etc.). Unexpectedly, Cormier’s post did cause me to reflect on digital practices and “how digital a particular practice really is” (para. 10).

Cormier’s question on whether email is a digital practice led me to liken this to the nuances that must be considered when defining digital learning. Recently, I interviewed a former colleague for an assignment in LRNT 525. The topic was about leadership and change management but framed in a digital learning context. When I was asked to define digital learning, despite being 3 courses into the MALAT program, I wasn’t sure exactly how to define it.

Sousa and Rocha (2019) concede that digital learning is complex, and define it using Kyndt et al’s definition “as an unplanned and implicit process with unpredictable results using several types of technological devices like smartphones, tablets, computers, and others” (p. 328) – so does this mean that MALAT synchronous sessions aren’t digital learning? On the other hand, Warschauer (2007) acknowledges that digital learning “relates to how students learn” (p. 44) – so does this mean that students in a classroom using a digital practice (e.g., computer) are solely in a digital learning environment?

I hope as I progress through this program I will be able to find the answers to these questions.

 

References

Cormier, D. (2018, March 31). Digital Practices Mapping – Intro activity for digital literacies course [web log]. http://davecormier.com/edblog/2018/03/31/digital-practices-mapping-intro-activity-for-digital-literacies-course/

Sousa Maria José, & Rocha Álvaro. (2019). Digital learning: developing skills for digital transformation of organizations. Future Generation Computer Systems91, 327–334. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.future.2018.08.048

Warschauer, M. (2007). The paradoxical future of digital learning. Learning Inquiry1(3), 219–219. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11519-007-0022-0

Unit 2, Activity 2: Resident-Visitor Typology Map

The following illustrates my use of digital technologies according to White’s (2013) resident-visitor typology. Like others in this cohort, I have made my digital presence relatively small and have purposely made it that way. I recently searched my name on Google – while my Linkedin profile came up, there is another Alison Kendrick with a much larger digital presence that monopolizes the results (and that’s fine with me).

Most of the technologies I’ve categorized as being a resident of are used as part of the MALAT program. While I use those that I’ve listed as personal (Facebook, Instagram) almost daily, I’m only an observer, meaning I have Facebook to see family and friends posts, but I rarely post anything. Similarly with Instagram, I use it to follow bands, professional tennis players and tournaments, and dogs I’ve never met but think are really cute. 

Since I am currently job searching, I have included Indeed and Eluta (job search engines) and Novoresume (a resume builder) under Institutional, as well as Zoom and other video conferencing applications since I use them to conduct most of my interviews. I assume in my next position, these applications would likely remain under Institutional as long as COVID-19 continues to force people to work from home.

References

White, D. (2013, September 13). Just the Mapping [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ

Unit 1, Activity 3: Virtual Symposium Critical Academic Reflection

This past week I participated in the 2021 MALAT Virtual Symposium. The symposium is made up of a series of guest speakers, ranging from students, faculty, and professionals, and their experiences with education and technology. A recurring theme in this years’ (and past years) symposium was open and its role in education.

Starting with Amanda Coolidge’s (2021) talk on Open Education, which she described as “being about sharing, collaboration, and breaking down barriers of accessing education and knowledge” (08:01-08:08), I was intrigued to learn that the term “open” was as broad as it is, and includes topics such as open textbooks, open pedagogy, open research, etc., which all culminate under the umbrella term of open practice. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on access and affordability issues and how they can be addressed through open practice. Dave Cormier (2017) furthered the discussion on open in his talk, making the distinction between free and freedom, which I thought was important as it hadn’t occurred to me that free, albeit appealing, may not equal freedom. I also liked how he spoke to the value of both “open as in content and open as in learning” (17:46) because I believe it takes both to be a successful learner. Cormier also used a great metaphor with rhizomes and its implications on open, and learning in general, that will undoubtedly stick with me.

As Coolidge (2021) discussed the work of BCcampus with open education, specifically with open textbooks, I disagreed with her position that the quality of open textbooks “isn’t so much about the course material, its about the way in which you teach it” (22:31). My initial disagreement stemmed from the idea that its possible to have a very charismatic teacher teaching material that isn’t accurate (e.g., teaching students that Germany won World War II). As I watched Elizabeth Childs and Loni Davis’s (2021) talk, I further felt Coolidge’s position was weak due to Child’s comments on how journal articles undergo a rigorous review process before being published. I found myself asking why if journal articles require such scrutiny, why don’t open textbooks? While I recognize there is likely a lengthier explanation about the review process for open textbooks, and Weller (2020) states that “the Open Education Group at Brigham Young University…[has] established an evidence base demonstrating that open textbooks were of high quality and had a positive impact on students” (p. 138-139), I felt that a stronger stance from Coolidge was needed. Despite this disagreement, I’d like to learn more about open textbooks and their review and publishing processes. Weller (2020) states that “…the quality of the physical book is an important aspect for both educators and students. Books are artifacts at which people tend to have an emotional connection” (p. 139), so I’d be curious to learn more on how this is achieved with respect to open textbooks.

While Cindy Harris did not speak specifically about an open topic, her willingness to be open about her life and career journey resonated with me. I hope to connect with her for advice on the instructional design and how to break into the field. As well, the presentations from current MALAT students, from Mark Regan’s work with air traffic controllers and simulator technologies to Sandra Kuiper’s research on Free Learning as an Open Educational Resource Repository, helped shed light on the wide range of research options, which is encouraging as I prepare to choose my exit pathway.

 

References

Childs, E., & Davis, L., (2021, April 14). Critical Reading and Writing at the Graduate Level. [Webinar]. Royal Roads University . http://bit.ly/criticalreadingwritingVS2021

Coolidge, A. (2021, April 12). Open Education: what it is; what it does and its amazing impact! [Webinar]. Royal Roads University . http://bit.ly/CoolidgeVS2021

Cormier, D. (2017, April 18). Intentional messiness of online communities. [Webinar]. Royal Roads University . https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press. https://www.aupress.ca/books/120290-25-years-of-ed-tech/

Unit 4, Activity 3: Final Reflections

This course has been a walk down memory lane as I’ve reflected on my past experiences with leadership, change, and project management. Some memories have been insightful, some have been frustrating as I recognize what some of my past leaders, project managers, and change leaders have lacked.

My initial reflection on leadership put honesty at the forefront of a great leader’s attributes. While this hasn’t wavered, I now recognize the importance of other attributes, such as communication, dependability, trust, and empathy. The exercise with my teammates on leadership attributes proved that no one has the exact same consensus on what a great leader should bring. I think its safe to say its easier to agree on what a great leader shouldn’t bring. But whatever the golden list of attributes is, I believe that some people naturally have these attributes; I also believe some people can learn these attributes, but only if they’re willing.

I’ve never been in a formal management or leadership position, and I’m still not sure if I do since it’s such a dauting task and easy to botch. But I would be willing to step out of my comfort zone and to be more involved in change projects for my next employer, particularly if it involves a digital learning environment. Despite Al-Haddad and Kotnour’s (2015) assertion that only 30% of change initiatives succeed, being on the team that lead a successful change would be rewarding.

If I am ever in a formal position where I must lead change, I will strive to remember O’Toole’s (2008) words, “people will only follow leaders who manifest the ability and willingness to take them where they want to go (p. 3).

 

References

Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management28(2), 234–262. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215

O’Toole, J. (2008). Notes Toward a Definition of Values-Based Leadership. The Journal of Values-Based Leadership, 1(1), 10. https://scholar.valpo.edu/jvbl/vol1/iss1/10

Unit 3, Activity 2: Leading Projects

Background

While I have been involved in many projects throughout my career, I have only been involved in one “formal” project, meaning there was a project manager, project charter, project team, etc. It was several years ago that I took part in a project to standardize departmental documentation for a municipal government. This project resulted from a previous one that focused on standardizing standard operating procedures (SOPs); during the SOP project, it was discovered that the department had many other document types, including business processes, codes of practices, work instructions, etc. The new project had the goal of formalizing a “repeatable process” for each document type. There was over 100 documents and I was the sole technical writer on the project. In addition to technical writing tasks, it was up to me to define the repeatable process.

At the time I was new to both the project management process, as well as the department; I had moved cities to take the job, so I had not involved in the previous SOP project. The project started before I arrived, so there had already been some project meetings and the creation of the project charter. The project team was made up of the project manager, project sponsor, technical writer, and representatives from each team within the department.

Barriers

The main barrier to this project was the project manager who lacked in project management expertise (Watt, 2014). Specifically, the project manager’s lack of leadership loomed over the project as they did not “motivate and inspire individuals to work toward expected results” (p. 21). Over time, this was apparent in the attendance drop-off for project meetings and lack of communication. The project manager had tasked project team members to inform their respective teams of project updates but did not follow up to ensure it was being done. There were a few times when I went to interview subject matter experts and discovered they were unaware of who I was and what I would be doing. This led to some uncomfortable moments as I believe they perceived that I was trying to tell them how to do their job, as opposed to asking questions to do my job. This was likely due to a lack of trust among the project team, me included, with the project manager. As Watt (2014) states, “without a minimum level of trust, communication breaks down…” (p. 123). A couple of times, project team members approached me for clarification on what they should doing, as opposed to going to the project manager.

Another barrier to the project was reliance on the SOP project. The project manager seemed to think that both projects were carbon copies of each other, and the steps taken in the SOP project would easily apply in this project. As stated by Conway et al., (2017), “different kinds of problems require different methods of system analysis’ (p. 14). While there was some overlap as they were both documentation projects, the project manager failed to consider the nuances that came with the different document types and their impact on the department. Had the project manager used systems thinking, the project manager could have understood the type of problem, problem situation, and power dynamics that this new project entailed (Conway et al., 2017).

Future Considerations

For future projects, I would focus on applying strong leadership skills, whether I was the project manager or a project team member. Project issues can usually be traced back to lack of leadership, including breakdown in communication, uncommitted project team members, and role confusion (Watt, 2014). With respect to learning technologies, I would also focus on using one of the University of Calgary’s strategies by facilitating connections and communications with all stakeholders. Specifically, I would strive to provide clear and regular communications to everyone in the organization about any technology changes and their impact (University of Calgary, 2014).

 

References

Conway, R., Masters, J., & Thorold, J., (2017). From design thinking to systems change: How to invest in innovation for social impact. Royal Society of Arts, Action and Research Centre. https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/rsa_from-design-thinking-to-system-change-report.pdf

University of Calgary, Learning Technologies Task Force. (2014). Strategic framework for Learning Technologies. https://www.ucalgary.ca/provost/sites/default/files/teams/1/ final_lttf_report_gfc_june_2014.pdf

Watt, A. (2014). Project Management. Victoria, BC: BCcampus.

Unit 2, Activity 1: Managing Change for Learning in Digital Environments

I initially struggled with this blog post as I felt I did not have enough experience with change management. I only became familiar with the term seven years ago when a project manager I worked with indicated that she would handle the change management piece of our project. Change management was never mentioned again leading me to believe it was never addressed. However, upon further reflection though, I recognize I have been part of many changes, whether through writing a new policy or procedure or introducing a new software tool.

Change management is an arduous undertaking given that success rates are less than 30 percent (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015). While the early years of change management piggybacked off other disciplines, including psychology and sociology, it evolved in the 1990s with the emergence of several change management methods, including John Kotter’s Leading Change method, which helped pave the way for change management to become its own discipline (Levine, 2016).

With the onset of COVID-19 in the past year, change has become commonplace within learning environments. As stated by Harris and Jones (2020), learning has been redefined “as a remote, screen-based activity limiting most learners to on-line teacher support” (p.243). Unfortunately, the pandemic caused me to lose my last job, so I have not directly witnessed the change the organization has undergone. However, through conversations with former coworkers, there has been a lot. Specifically, in the training department, classroom training is now being run virtually through Microsoft Teams, and they have adopted some creative solutions including recording short videos of demonstrations to enhance instruction.

When it comes to leading change in a digital learning environment, Kotter’s Leading Change method would be useful as it is made up of eight steps that can be iteratively modified. Recently Weiss and Li’s (2020) study described how this method was used to address trainee’s well-being in healthcare, and it found that it allowed program leaders to reflect upon their training programs and take the opportunity to improve them” (p.735).

Weiss and Li (2020) also stated that modifying education to effectively respond to learners requires leadership. Leadership is paramount during times of change. Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) state that “acts of leadership enable the organization to respond to the changing environment by creating a vision and making prompt decisions in terms of resources and technologies (p.240). By having leadership involved in the change, leaders can promote confidence in those experiencing the change while providing clarity and cultivating a sense of community (Merrell, 2012).

Harris and Jones (2020) suggest there is evidence supporting the importance of using context responsive leadership within education because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also suggested that it is imperative for leaders to put their own health and wellbeing first to better manage the emotional responses of others while leading the changes imposed by COVID-19 now and in the future. The impact of the pandemic has caused change management to become an essential skill of school leaders where they “will need to be engaged in constant crisis and change management which will require support and collaboration from all staff” (p.246).

 

References

Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234–262. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215

Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2020). Covid 19 – school leadership in disruptive times. School Leadership & Management, 40(4). https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1080/13632434.2020.1811479

Levine, S. R. (2016, April 18). What can we learn from the history of change management? Retrieved from https://www.cuinsight.com/can-learn-history-change-management.html

Merrell, P. (2012). Effective change management: The simple truth. Management Services, 56(2), 20-23. https://ezproxy.royalroads.ca/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/trade-journals/effective-change-management-simple-truth/docview/1027234230/se-2?accountid=8056

Weiss, P. G., & Li, S.-T. T. (2020). Leading change to address the needs and well-being of trainees during the covid-19 pandemic. Academic Pediatrics20(6), 735–741. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acap.2020.06.001