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H808 – The profession of learning technologist (CA 5.4)

November 13, 2010

First I though I have a sense of déjà vu, being asked the same thing twice. I double checked if I am reading not the directions for the previous activity, but no I am right. Well, before we had to define professions, eprofessionals, elearning professionals and now learning technologists. Well, I know I shouldn’t say so, but my first impression is what is the difference are they not all doing the same thing? I know the difference between a programmer and the computer software teacher. The first designs the program, whereas the latter teaches the students to use it. Well, that makes sense to me, but I really don’t know what educational developer, educational researcher, technical researcher, developer, materials developer, project manager, and general learning technologist do in comparison to academic innovators and academic managers or learning support professionals included technical support professionals and IT professionals ?  :-/

I read Lisewski and Joce article but I am not much wiser how this profession differs from the other and/or how I would define a learning technologist, except that the learning technologist suppose to bridge the gap between the technical and the pedagogic part, though I am not sure if that’s it.

The authors focus on Salmon Gilley’s (2000) five stage e-moderating model and on Wenger’s (1998) communities of practice, highlighting the pros and cons of the models, focusing thereby in particular on Salmon’s model.

The authors criticize the Salmon’s model as to restrictive and that it  lacks of flexibility and reflectivity and does not take individual learning styles into account. They suggest that ‘although these frameworks are useful in informing and guiding learning technology practice, there are inherent dangers in them becoming too dominant a discourse … or forming a ‘grand narrative’ (Lyotard, 1984)  of how to design and deliver online training programmes.’  However, Wenger (quoted in the article) argues that ‘effective educational practice revolves primarily around forming ‘identities and modes of belonging’ rather than in information delivery and skills acquisition’ and that the  learning technologist needs to strive for the correct balance between reification and the participation or structure and empowerment on behalf of the learner within the local teaching and learning context which means that learning technologists are involved in the ‘core work of collaborative curriculum development (Oliver, 2002).

The authors argue that learning technologist need to establish their professionals identity, credibility and knowledge base to avoid being only seen as service provider reduced to his technical skills, but not as an expert/professional, which technical and pedagogical knowledge and skills are valued in informing the process of teaching and learning online. Learning technologist should communicate effectively with other eprofessionals and participate in online networks and communities to enrich his personal and professional development.

Thus as I mentioned before I would define a learning technologist as someone who combines the technical knowhow with the pedagogical understanding and knowledge and can thus act as a creative and effective professional within the broad field of technology-enhanced learning.

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