I am a unicorn!

It’s not your name that matters, it’s what do that counts.

Lego Unicorn
Lego Unicorn – Image by Joakim Roubert from Pixabay

One of the facets of membership of ALT is the busy, informative and interesting mailing list that you can participate in. As well as collaboration, asking for advice and information, there are also on the odd occasion entertaining discussions on topics related to learning technology.

Recently, Peter Bryant from USYD,  posted the following:

We are building a new team of educational and technology expertise at USYD. USYD are looking to build the kind of expertise that goes above and beyond system administration, learning object making and technology support (noble pursuits all mind). We are looking for a team of learning technologist type people who can work with designers to identify and deliver solutions for wicked and grand pedagogical challenges, work with academics on training and development, see and support innovation and pushing the technological envelope and to work collectively to evaluate the impact and success/failure of these interventions. 

So, my question for the list, what kind of job titles would you call such a unicorn?

There then followed a deluge of responses about what these unicorns should be called. As you might expect the predominate response from a list of members of Association for Learning Technology who in the main are learning technologists was that these unicorns should be called learning technologists.

Reading the discussion, I was reminded of something I wrote in 2017 about the name of my eleaningstuff blog.

It’s not what you say you do, it’s the way that you do it!

I was thinking the other day that I don’t have enough readers of the blog and insufficient engagement So the solution has to be that the name of the blog isn’t right. First idea would be change the name from “elearning stuff” to “blended learning stuff”. Then again maybe I could choose “e-pedagogy stuff” or what a about “threaded learning stuff”. How about “hybrid pedagogy stuff”?

Do you think that changing the name will significantly increase readership and engagement on the blog?

Of course the response to this question is a resounding no!

As I discussed in that blog post, I think that the job titles are a similar challenge to the name we call e-learning or blended learning or TEL, or digital learning or whatever the flavour of the month is.

The job title is (mostly) irrelevant (except maybe to identify to those looking for a role what the role may be about). Often we look at job titles as the people behind those job titles are finding it challenging to engage with academics to help them to make the best and most effective use of technology to enhance learning and teaching. We think that by changing the job title we will be more effective in engaging with academics. Of course how many times do you engage with someone by pushing your job title at them?

The real challenge has been working with academics and their mindset (and culture) and job titles will always be wrong in some people’s view, regardless of what that job title is, was or will be. This was identified and echoed by people on the list.

Academics in the main don’t see the value in these roles, so there’s a culture issue here too.

…one day we were told our TEL team was moving to be part of Teaching & Learning Enhancement (TLE). This move changed the mindset of how most academics viewed the TEL team…

It should be helpful for the staff you interact with, so the language should reflect the language of the institution.

If you are having challenges in engaging staff in the use of digital and learning technologies and thinking that changing the “name” for the people who do this, we use is the solution, i would suggest you may actually want to spend the time and effort thinking about your approaches and the methodology you are using.

Of course the real reason people choose to change the language, is that it is much easier to do that, then actually deal with people!

Addendum

Having written a draft of this blog post, I shared it with Peter and he divulged that the reason for asking the question was about attracting the right kind of recruit. Which is a reason, as I mentioned above, The job title is (mostly) irrelevant (except maybe to identify to those looking for a role what the role may be about).

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