In ‘Productive learning networks’, Goodyear refers to some issues which I feel could be of relevance in my micro view of teaching support:
- The phenomenon of ‘homophily’ – the tendency to prefer to interact with others who are like oneself. There are positive functions, such as sharing of implicit information and reducing conflict, however the disadvantage of reducing access to different and novel ideas can work against a group or institution (Goodyear, 2014).
- Related to this is the notion of ‘strong ties’, which bind those who have close, regular and repeated contact, and tend to be powerful in influencing the thoughts and actions of those involved. Networks can perform a valuable function by introducing new information through weak ties (Goodyear, 2014).
How effectively can those interacting with broader networks introduce their ideas into educational decision-making within academic teaching staff, learning and teaching support services and institutional decision makers?
As part of the increasing move towards online education and connected learning at USQ, we are expected to walk the talk, interact and obtain information from the network – both internal and external to the institution.
When it comes to support issues, it is interesting to observe the spectrum of behavior as some staff willingly seek information online and others prefer to pick up the phone and talk to a real person. Is it habit, preference, convenience or ? which determines this behavior?
Our project team will soon be launching a site to provide support and information for professional and academic staff regarding the e-learning tools available at USQ to support their learning and teaching activities. The aim being to have information available online whenever needed by staff, as the in person support is only available during business hours.
Perhaps the response to this endeavor will help inform the type of support which I may consider in my teaching proposal for NGL.
The following quote from Socol’s ‘The Toolbelt and Universal Design – Education For Everyone’ supports the current approach to institutional efforts to provide improved support for both staff and students, even thought the support offered is restricted by policy and resources:
Your school must be a tool shop, where tools are demonstrated, taught, considered, respected, used, and deliberately chosen. Because we can not afford to send our students out without the toolbelts they need to function in their future world.
But as Paul questions “..can organisations continue to get away with telling employees which technology they will use to support their learning.” Higher education institutions face the decision of releasing their leaning and teaching from the constraints of supported technologies.
Jose Maria Perez Nunez: umbrella
Goodyear, P. (2014). Productive Learning Networks: The Evolution of Research and Practice. In L. Carvalho & P. Goodyear (Eds.), The Architecture of Productive Learning Networks (pp. 23–47). London: Routledge.