Small interventions, fundamental shifts

This morning I was at one of the Symposia at Ascilite 2009, Cascading Change: The role of social software and social media in educational intervention and transformation.

In recent years social media and social software tools and practices have been applied in numerous implementation and pilot studies in higher. Some have been driven by explicit educational goals, while others seem to have been inspired by the attractive, technical flexibility of an emerging decentralized landscape of loosely-coupled, networked tools and services and its alleged potential for changing the dominant patterns of institutional provision of ICT in education. This symposium brings together a diverse and international group of researchers to explore the problems and limitations of using social media as a leverage point for second-order change in higher education. It aims to engage contributors and the audience in theoretical and empirical reflection on possible directions for further conceptual and methodological development in that area.

This was an interesting debate and as is usually the case there wasn’t sufficient time for a lot of discussion. I was hoping with the Twitterfall screen up that we could have an online debate, however Twitter decided to have a big fail. Ah well.

One of the questions that came up was why with all these “interventions” why is change so slow or not happening.

My opinion is that these changes or interventions we make that we report at these conferences are always small and tiny and therefore can’t make a huge differences. We need to make major interventions at a institutional or even at a societal level if we are to effect fundamental change.

I also wonder if the culture of how we work is also a barrier to systematic change. In HE especially with a focus on research and publication, there is less incentive to effect change and more incentive to carry on researching and attending conferences and getting papers published.

People with the power to effect change do not (in the main) attend such conferences and therefore such changes do not happen at an institutional level.

Of course change does happen at an institutional level, but often with administrative systems rather than teaching and learning. For example does your institution use e-mail or MIS ?

As with the MIT OpenCourseWare and other similar initiatives in this area we can see that sometimes there can be fundamental shifts in the ways institutions work.

So how do we move things along…

3 thoughts on “Small interventions, fundamental shifts”

  1. Hi James this is a big thing for us at Staffordshire, with teh Enable Project/ Programme reviewing issues around how do we get innovation from the sidelines into the mainstream, and how can we start looking at moving beyond “quick wins” a lot of this has been covered in both the project blog and my own one – we have a recognised a need to Programme Manage innovation in the university, to bring it together and to help support those involved in it.

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