I always enjoy reading Tony bates’ Articles that always offer a balanced and well-founded view of current educational trends. This week’s post is a look back at the trends in educational technology over the past year, A look back at online learning in 2021, and has the subheading bad but still better. The findings from this year are the same as those from 2020, only more differentiated. There is a recognition that almost all courses are now interconnected in some way, and this is changing both the design of our courses and the design of our study spaces, both on-site and online. There are a lot of new buzzwords in this field and a lot is learned through trial and error, but we have come a long way since early 2020.
There are many new terms such as flipped, hyflex, hybrid for these approaches towards blended learning, and these terms will evolve and confuse as there is no prevailing pedagogical model, let alone Theory for blended learning. Everyone learns after they sit down in their pants, and that may not be bad, at least at first. It is important that these developments are promoted, recorded and evaluated so that best practices can emerge in the end.
One group that has taken center stage during the pandemic is the educational technologist (there are many other names for this role as it is still developing into a profession). Institutions that already had teaching and learning centers to help staff use technology made the transition to online education much more smoothly than institutions that lacked formal support. Today we recognize the need for comprehensive support for teachers in the design and implementation of courses. Before Covid, this support was mainly aimed at a minority of teachers – early adopters. This left time for individual support and guidance. But now that all teachers need support, the role of educational technologist and educational development specialist has become a core function.
When only 10 percent of the courses were online, individual support for the lecturers was possible. However, as everyone is working towards a version of blended learning, the challenge of quality control and agile course design, especially for blended learning, has become more pressing. How do we increase teacher support to ensure high quality blended learning? The challenge of blended learning means moving from an ad hoc model of faculty development based on faculty who are often reluctant to choose to a more systematic model of faculty development that ensures that everyone is familiar with best practices in blended learning .
It is now important that the support for teachers is strengthened and professionalized. In some institutions, this type of support is either still offered by the IT department, which rarely has educational experience, or relies on the goodwill of more experienced colleagues who have to combine their regular duties with the role of unofficial and unrecognized educational technicians. The recognized educational technologists, in turn, need career paths, professional development and recognition of their contribution to the core business of the institution. While we do not know exactly where we are headed, it seems safe to predict that most, if not all educational institutions are now recognizing the critical importance of professional support for teachers in managing the transition to a more digitally dependent university.