Are you a technologist, academic developer, facilitator or chameleon?

We’re being restructured. It was never going to be a straightforward experience, but as Homi Bhabha remarks, “the state of emergency is also always a state of emergence” (Bhabha 1994: 41). I must thank my PGC course leader for that.

I’m having to justify my role as part of the restructure. Currently I am an Academic Developer, but fairly soon I could be a Learning Technology Facilitator, an e-Learning advisor or just a Learning Technologist. What’s the difference? Does one present more opportunity for professional development? Beetham, Jones and Gornall (2001) state that a Learning Technologist often performs a variety or roles including but not limited to:

  • Educational developer
  • Educational researcher into learning technologies
  • Resource/materials developer
  • C&IT skills professional
  • Library/resources professional
  • Technical support professional
  • Manager (teams and projects)
  • Academic innovator, and
  • Technical developer/researcher

I can certainly find examples of all of the above in my day to day work and this indicates the complexity of the Learning Technologist role. There is a great deal of change happening both within and outside our institution at the moment and if e-Learning initiatives are going to be sustainable they will need to be implemented by people in posts that are themselves sustainable.

For the past two years I have strived to not be pidgeon-holed as an IT Technician but rather as a member of the academic community. If the activity of the Learning Technologist is not underpinned by sound pedagogy it rarely has the desired impact on enhancing learning. But the strict separation of IT and Learning and Teaching has always brought about a blurred boundary around ‘who owns e-Learning’ in the institution. I’m beginning to think that moving into the IT department might actually enable me to do my job more effectively that before.

So who am I? Technologist, Academic Developer or Facilitator? Or a combination of all three? I think its time to become a chameleon…

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