Learning Technologist collaboration research project #LTFE #LTHE

Learning Technologist collaboration research project: Loughborough College and the University of Leicester

I am pleased to be involved in a project with Geraldine Murphy and Rachel Challen from Loughborough College which looks to explore the identity of a Learning Technologist through the “analysis of language”.

Project outline
According to the Association of Learning Technology the definition of Learning Technology is defined as this; “Learning technology is the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that can be used to support learning, teaching, and assessment.” Learning Technologists are then “the people who are actively involved in managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of learning technology.”(ALT 2010)

However, to those working in eLearning, on a daily or ad hoc basis, the explanation doesn’t seem to be as clear cut and there has to be a continual explanation of the job role and the skills, experience and knowledge the role of a Learning Technologist demands. The reality of the day to day routine of a Learning Technologist can be dictated by the strengths of the person in the role, or even where the role physically fits into the institutional structure. According to David Hopkins this question of what is a Learning Technologist “can be answered differently based on who you ask, where they work, and what day of the week it is.” (Hopkins, 2009)

The naming of a Learning Technologist can take many forms: Academic developer, blended learning advisor, technology enhanced learning advisor to name a few. This has a real impact on individual and team identity, purpose and success. Without clear definition, the crossover between technology and pedagogy can cause friction and conflict between departments.

This small sociolinguistic research project aims to highlight some of the contradictions and correlations of the role of a Learning Technologist, based on perceived responsibilities and expectations. This will be achieved through the collection of qualitative data using the twitter platform asking the question: “What does a Learning Technologist do?”

Project Methodology
The outcomes of this project will be built upon qualitative data that will be collected through the capture and archiving of Twitter posts from October 2013-Dec 2013 using a tagging system on Google docs. The data will be gathered by performing automatic hourly searches of all Tweets using the hash tags #LTFE and #LTHE (non-case sensitive tweets will also be included). The principles of discourse analysis will be applied to the data to extrapolate the themes, trends and attitudes towards Learning Technologist which will be discussed to begin to build a clearer picture of the position of Learning Technologists in the context of FE and HE.  The first stage will concentrate on FE and the second stage on HE.

Data will be collected between October – December 2013.

Data analysis will be continual throughout the project- using a small cluster of discourse analysis techniques. The project write-up will be completed by Christmas and will be disseminated across the FE and HE learning community. This dissemination will be informally through twitter and formally as a research case study. Potential journals to submit case study to are:  ALT-J,MERJ, JHFE and Rapal.

This project will be carried out by Rachel Challen Head of eLearning and Geraldine Murphy a Learning Technologist at Loughborough College and David Hopkins, Learning Technologist at the University of Leicester.

ALT. 2010. What is Learning Technology? | Association for Learning Technology. [online] Available at: http://www.alt.ac.uk/about-alt/what-learning-technology [Accessed: 16 Oct 2013].

Hopkins, D. 2009. What is a Learning Technologist?.Technology Enhanced Learning Blog, [blog] August 13, Available at: http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/blogging/what-is-a-learning-technologist/ [Accessed: 16 Oct 2013].