Response to “How Learning Technology Can Help”

A few days ago I posted my reflections on my role on the Ministerial Task Force, and the output of the SFC review in a blog entitled “How Learning Technology Can Help“. The post provoked some interesting discussion on the areas I’m looking at. The discussion began from a series of tweets I posted out, summarising the blog:

An initial response to this suggested that since we want collaboration in our students, wouldn’t we do well to model the behaviour as educators? And questiosn about the multidisciplinary teams I explored previously…

The wider discussion was provoked by a colleague who helpfully engaged a wider cohort of the community…

One early response was from Tim Fawns, who I discussed this topic with in a previous blog.

Tim advocated for the idea of a collaborative partnership approach, where education is delivered by a team rather than an individual, with more parity across different roles than is often currently the case. However, what followed from this was an interesting discussion into the concept of academic ownership of courses and what, to some extent, comes down to academic freedom.

So, one potential issue of the team based approach is the concept of where the buck stops. Who, ultimately is responsible? And I’m curious whether this also reverts back to the issue of respect, of academics seeing ET/ID as equals. Interestingly, the discussion also continued on to the concept of ideological clashes between people in different roles, which is something I discussed in an earlier blog (philosophical and methodological beliefs)

This I found really interesting, and I took the opportunity to link colleagues to my previous blog mentioned above, on the Sheehan & Johnson 2012 paper. It was interesting that the discussion had been moving in the direction, quite naturally, of pragmatic approaches.

I also had to return to an earlier point in the conversation, because we had been dancing around an interesting discussion surrounding the concept of “learning designers as partners, not service providers“, which is a fundamentally different dynamic.

So the question here becomes how can subject specialists know what they don’t know? i.e. how can they know they need to ask for help, if the service model is used? A partnership would result in effective planning from day 1 as well, rather than trying to bodge in something effective to an already-existing course, which is far more difficult. The downside of the partnership is the issue discussed above, that the subject specialist may no longer feel ownership of the course.

Going back to the original post, there was a second thread that came from it, more specifically on professional identity.

The suggestion here being that although the professional services / academic divide may still exist, the specific support role of learning tech / instructional designer / academic developer / learning innovation may become one role with individuals sitting in different position son a continuum.

One response was the idea that we’re already close to that position:

Bill J discussed the blurring of lines already occurring:

And Simon Thomson shared the TPACK model used at the University of Liverpool which could be used to gauge where an individual sat across Technical, Pedagogical, and Content knowledge. This was illustrated in a handy diagram,

Dustin was kind enough to link me to a good explainer on TPACK, which is a framework that I think is worth looking in to a bit more to see how it’s used in practice:

And Simon shared to a slide-deck from a presentation in 2019 on the Digitally Supported Curriculum, something I would be interested in seeing a fuller write-up from Simon about because the slides alone provide an interesting insight to his thinking.

Indeed, the presentation suggests that the movement to a more complex and inclusive model of tech & pedagogy was already occurring pre-pandemic, with the last 18 months seeing rapid acceleration and less resistance to these models from some of the more traditionally-minded.

Now, this idea of a continuum of identity isn’t a new one. In fact it reminded me of a series of tweets by Martin Compton from June.

This also provoked a wider discussion, but I’ll leave it with just the thread for now. But, again, at the core is the idea of people in broadly similar roles but who through experience, knowledge, or practice fall into specific specialisms or archetypes. It also aligned with one of the papers I reviewed back in my annotated bibliography assignment :

Altena, S., Ng, R., Hinze, M., Poulsen, S. and Parrish, D.R., 2019. ‘Many hats one heart’: A scoping review on the professional identity of learning designers. In Personalised Learning. Diverse Goals. One Heart: Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE 2019) Conference Proceedings (pp. 359-364). Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE).

The paper was a scoping review on an investigation into the attributes of learning designers (to be, to know, to do), which from all of the above discussion seems to be an area that practitioners feel is worth investigating in more depth. When looking at these and wider discussions from within the community I do get the feeling that there is a real appetite to reflect and answer that basic question, “Who am I?”.

I also take away thoughts on what seems to be a common wish to work collaboratively, albeit sensitively, with subject specialist colleagues/faculty. There may be issues of respect worth investigating, because respect for each other’s role and professionalism is something essential in any collaboration/partnership, without it trust can be missing, without which getting a healthy working dynamic is challenging.


If anybody has any thoughts on the above topics, or can point me towards key literature/blogs/thinkers in this area, please let me know. You can get in touch by leaving a comment on this blog, messaging me on Twitter @ChrisEKennedy, or emailing me at

Further information about my project, in the form of a plain language statement, can be found in an earlier blog post.


Following the above discussions, Simon Thomson (@digisim) followed through on his promise and posted an excellent write-up of what his slide deck had hinted at.

2 thoughts on “Response to “How Learning Technology Can Help”

  1. Thank you for sparking and collating all of this discussion. Much of interest and much that resonates with my experience of this wicked problem. What follows is a bit about how I’m currently thinking about/exploring this challenge. Not as “the” solution, but rather one contribution.

    Informed by many, but perhaps most explicitly Ellis and Goodyear (2019) I recommend the book.

    The had concerns about the ability of L&T centers – arguably the teams of designers, techs, and staff developers – to sustainably operate strategically and at scale. One part of their collection of alternate suggestions is a shift towards multi-disciplinary teams collaborating on the design of “a manageable small set of particular valued activity systems” (p. 188). My interpretation of that is having the designers, techs, staff developers, (traditionally labelled) educators working collaboratively on designing an institutionally specific set of assemblages of technologies and practices.

    The introduction to this 2019 paper ( summarises the argument.


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