I’m an academic. I work at the Open University, UK, as part of the Institute of Educational Technology. But this blog and everything in it is my personal view, not that of the OU, and is definitely not endorsed by them.
I’m interested in new technology in teaching in and around Higher Education. Of course, I’m actually interested in a lot of other things besides, but read the previous sentence in the academic sense of “interested”, i.e. “am trying to make a career out of studying”. I’m forever tempted to stray beyond those boundaries:
- new This is a particularly fuzzy boundary, with no easy metrics. Vellum scrolls are probably right off the scale, but – as Zhou Enlai said of the French Revolution, I think it’s too early to tell what the impact of the printing press is. [Update: Turns out the Zhou Enlai bit may be an urban legend. Apparently he was talking in the early 1970s, and was not referring to the 1789 events in Paris but the 1968 ones.]
- technology What counts as technology? And one of my few firm beliefs about my area is that there’s nothing profoundly different about teaching and learning with new technology than with traditional methods (whatever they are). I’d argue that the principles of good teaching apply even more so when you use new technologies.
- teaching This is a deeply unfashionable thing to be interested in – everyone who’s anyone these days says they’re interested in learning, and the idea that “nothing is taught until something is learned” is now a commonplace. I like to think I played a very small part in this shift in thinking in HE. However, I’d argue that most learning happens without anyone else being directly involved at all. Maybe that sort of learning deserves more research (indeed some of my colleagues are doing it). But the organisation of learning opportunities for others is a vital and valid calling for humanity, and I think we can legitimately call that teaching.
- Higher Education Again, there’s plenty of interesting and relevant stuff from other areas of education and learning. I’m definitely not interested in compulsory education: on balance I’m against it, and it’s certainly not nearly as much fun for learning or teaching. I’m very much interested in the boundary between informal learning and higher education.
I’m also interested in management, and particularly in managing knowledge workers. Hmm – already I’ve undermined myself: here I mean “interested” in a slightly weaker academic sense than the former. The reasons for the difference are probably a good idea for a post some time …