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Projects policy and digital literacy

  1. Projects, policy and digital literacies: from student experience to organisational change Lesley Gourlay & Martin Oliver Institute of Education, University of London
  2. A reminder… This session will use case studies from the JISC funded Digital Literacies project, showing how student experiences have been documented, fed into policy review, and led to changes in institutional practice and services. The presenters will outline the methodologies used, and introduce a model of organisational change that draws on Actor-Network Theory. Participants will be asked to map routes from project data through policy makers to institutional systems, and think about the work that needs to be done at each stage to enable this to happen.
  3. How many of you… a) …are planning a project that involves organisational change? b) …are mid-way through a project, and are getting/about to get data that you want to use to influence change? c) …have finished a project, have recommendations, and want to know what to do next? d) …are just interested in listening, to get some ideas? Results from the survey in Collaborate:
  4. So, what exactly is the problem?
  5. Education is on the brink of being transformed through technology; however, it has been on that brink for some decades now. - Laurillard, 2008
  6. “Mainstreaming” Technology in teaching is not ubiquitous and the vision is far from being realised … because technological issues have in the main been easier to solve than the more complex social, cultural and organisational issues involved with mainstreaming technology in learning and teaching. - Littlejohn & Peacock, 2003
  7. One of the most persistent and pervasive concerns expressed about the support for the implementation of the strategy is the lack of evidence of the successful implementation of technology developments in institutions in any meaningful and scalable way. JISC initiatives continue to engage a relatively small number of enthusiasts and developers in a (growing but still limited) number of institutions, but are rarely adopted on an institutional scale. There is a particular concern about a growing imbalance between funding for technological development on the one hand, and implementation, consolidation and changing practice on the other. - Glenaffric, 2008
  8. How has this problem been conceptualised? Initially, rationally, along Fordist lines Managerialism Accountability (control) Business process re-engineering (an institution as machine metaphor) A one-off, high risk strategy Increasingly, in terms of complexity and social change
  9. A movement from top-down, hierarchical, rational accounts of controlled change, to complex, nuanced, negotiated development An evolution illustrated over the following slides
  10. “The following recommendations are based on our practical experiences: 1. Ensure that there are clear, well publicised mission statements […] 2. Establish procedures for producing and implementing strategic learning and teaching development plans, including measurable targets, which address resource requirements. Monitor performance against […] agreed targets. 3. Allocate each faculty a dedicated ‘learning development manager’ from the central team […] 4. Establish and publicise reward systems […] 5. Enhance staff development opportunities with identified budgets […] 6. Organise events to take the initiative to the staff. 7. Establish central funds to encourage faculty-based activity but establish central project selection and monitoring procedures and central control of budgets. 8. Ensure there is adequate infrastructure to support roll-out. 9. Ensure that central production and support resources are adequate […] 10. Gather evaluation data and publicise the results. 11. Ensure there is a champion for change in teaching and learning at the highest levels of leadership within the organisation, and an unbroken chain of responsibility […]” - Brown, 2002
  11. Clearly understanding where you are starting from is as important as understanding where you want to get to. Expanding the use of eLearning in an institution requires a clear and honest analysis of the organisation in terms of strengths and weaknesses viewed against its strategic goals. - Stiles, 2004
  12. E-learning, whether combined with other forms of teaching and learning or not, is multifaceted and involves shifts both in understanding and behaviours. Most academics responsible for both the curriculum and the pedagogical processes arising from e-learning have not made these shifts. It is most unlikely that a whole university can be ‘re-engineered’ (Brown, 2002) to accommodate the major changes associated with e-learning. Many academics still view e-learning as impersonal, constraining and insufficiently adaptive to the needs of a wide variety of learners. This view has arisen mainly because of the over-simplistic approaches in the earlier days. To date, much of the focus has been into the development of technologies or top-down policy aspirations, and not on the human dimensions, scaling-up and embedding of innovation and the associated management of change (Tham &Werner, 2005). - Salmon, 2008
  13. “the programme of implementation was focused around our aims to: develop ownership and commitment to the university strategy at the departmental level; harness the energy of our innovators to drive change forward; support staff to make educationally sound choices about using technology; and involve heads of school and other senior managers, starting by making them aware of the groundswell of energy and good practice already occurring.” Identified the following ‘levers for change’ Contextualisation (developing a local strategy more important than what each strategy said) Supporting the formation of communities that can share practice across the institution Engaging teachers in dialogue about their personal theories of learning and teaching - Sharpe et al, 2006
  14. However… Still focused on top-down, strategic change Few projects start from that position Local innovations don’t start from that position, by definition What about distributed innovation? Less efficient? More resilient, as greater tolerance of failure? (Therefore lower, or at least more manageable, risks) Happening anyhow? How can we explain how these kinds of initiatives do – or don’t – get adopted as ‘mainstream’ practices?
  15. ANT, and the sociology of translation A perspective that explores how society happens How are patterns of power, interaction, relationship, etc established and maintained? A ‘bottom up’ (indeed, flat!) view of networks and how they are organised An alternative to the ‘top down’ view of change
  16. How (some) networks change “some types of network begin with problematization, where something tries to establish itself as an obligatory passage point that frames an idea, intermediary or problem and related entities in particular ways.” “Translation is the term used by Latour (1987) to describe what happens when entities come together and connect, changing one another in the process of forming links.” - Fenwick et al, 2011
  17. “The translations whereby separate entities are somehow attracted or invited to this framing, and where they negotiate their connection and role in the emerging network, Callon called interessement. This functions as a selection process determining not only those entities to be included but also, importantly, those to be excluded. Those entities to be included experience enrolment in the network relations, a process whereby they become engaged in new identities and behaviours and increasingly translated in particular directions. When the network becomes sufficiently durable its translations are extended to other locations and domains through a process of mobilization.”
  18. How have we used these ideas? Explaining how a project can contribute to institutional policy making and organisational change First, an overview of the project Two cases in which these ideas have been useful Case one: student experience and IT policy Case two: linking student experience to institutional policy making Some conclusions and implications, leading into discussion
  19. Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute? JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme Institute of Education, University of London iGraduate / Focus groups / multimodal journalling in year 1 Case studies across four areas in year 2: Academic Writing Centre Learning Technologies Unit Library Institution-wide
  20. Lesley Gourlay (Academic Writing Centre), Martin Oliver (Learning Technologies Unit), Gwyneth Price (Library), Susan McGrath (Students’ Union), Jude Fransman plus Mary Stiasny (Associate Director for Learning, Teaching and International) “Our focus is on students’ experiences of digital literacy in their interaction with the institution.”
  21. Key findings Academic practices are overwhelming textual These are situated in social and disciplinary contexts Textual practices are increasingly digitally mediated These practices take place across a range of domains Students create complex assemblages enrolling a range of digital, material, spatial and temporal resources.
  22. Case one A new IT Strategy was proposed Staff response was mixed A response generated Changes made to committee structures What was the role of the project in this? How did we effect particular changes?
  23. The point of departure: the review document as stable network “The report […] pulls together the outcomes of stakeholder and […] staff meetings. The proposed programme of change has also been informed by discussions with third party organisations and advice from the UCISA IT Directors group.” Problematization: the author as obligatory passage point, framing the problem and people Staff, students, consultants, external experts enrolled What happens when enrolled actors ‘rebel’?
  24. Staff expressed concerns, de-stabilising the network Technical staff and academic staff Questions about some of the evidence, implications and recommendations “Un-enrolling”: re-problematizing the situation Specifically, who had been consulted, and how their views shaped the report? (Was this productive interessement? Was it something else?)
  25. Competing problematizations Old framing challenged A new framing emerged: problem raised with a senior member of staff, with responsibility for aspects of learning and teaching strategy; no longer about the systems per se but their wider purpose Competing translations Old framing: people as spoken for, on the basis of expert experience New framing: people need to go on speaking, since their needs develop as situations change
  26. Competing interessement “Service users” as recipients of a better service (with ‘better’ appearing to be defined by experts) “Service users” as determinants of what counts as a better service (to then be implemented by experts) – power of strategic decision-making moved from within the service to a joint responsibility with actors outside Competing enrolment “stakeholder and […] staff meetings” Project research and consultation by the SU
  27. Who was enrolled and how? Successful stabilisation required enrolment of students Our project formed part of this process Student experience(s) inscribed and mobilised in different ways Analysis of institutional survey data, with a specific focus on experiences of technology Students already enrolled in this process Students translated as sources of evidence Evidence translated into survey responses (inscription) Survey responses translated into a report identifying issues (further inscription) Survey report mobilised through comparison with strategy document that identified inconsistencies
  28. A series of focus groups with students Students translated to represent areas of teaching (PGCE, taught masters, distance masters, PhD) Invited to shared experiences in return for vouchers (interessement) Experiences shared and recorded, then transcribed (inscription) Transcripts analysed to produce report (further inscription), including recommendations – in particular, that student needs were not homogenous but diverse Students therefore enrolled behind recommendations, with project team as obligatory passage point, and mobilized via report that could be circulated
  29. …but this problematization was also challenged… Students’ Union represented in the project via representative Representative also undertook a new consultation with students, which generated slightly different recommendations Continued enrolment of students weakened in some respects (mobilization behind specific recommendations) but strengthened in others (need for ongoing interessement via consultation)
  30. What did the new problematization look like? An undermining of the old problematization by reframing the situation (from: is the service like others, to: is it fit for purpose for our users?) A way of framing the specific report as historical, to focus on ongoing interessement via systematic consultation: the establishment of a User Group in the committee structure, to include representation from the four groups of students we worked with What did the project achieve? A shift of power: mobilizing students in support of the new problematization, rather than the old
  31. What didn’t we do? Initiate a change programme Control how people acted (objectives, monitoring, rewards, etc) What did we do? Identified a power struggle Represented the interests of students Enabled one group to claim, credibly, that it was speaking for the interests of students, helping secure their position
  32. Case two Identified need for qualitative data from different student groups to inform change around technologies Particularly important as fast-moving, complex and multifaceted area of student practice Fundamental differences across student groups, undermining notions of generic digital literacies This process to be embedded into annual cycle of R&D, feeding into the committee structure
  33. Interessement via annual invitation to discuss strategically important issues Inscription via analysis and report on themes Mobilisation via presentation to Teaching Committee Enrolment via Teaching Committee formulating policy using the evidence base provided to represent the student experience
  34. Some conclusions There is a will to change education by ‘mainstreaming’ new technologies Top-down strategies for change haven’t been very successful Perspectives drawing on ANT give another way of thinking about this problem ‘Bottom up’ (or flat) accounts Explanations of social success (or failure) Sensitive to how power is achieved and maintained Wider range of possible agents, human and nonhuman Opportunism allows projects to make a difference by influencing (…subverting…?) existing change, rather than having to initiate new change processes on top of what’s already happening
  35. A starting point for discussion “Participants will be asked to map routes from project data through policy makers to institutional systems, and think about the work that needs to be done at each stage to enable this to happen.” Reminder: this session is being recorded…
  36. Is this kind of account interesting, convincing and/or helpful? In your institutions, how have you/might you… Used the project process to support negotiation and positioning (interessement) of different groups? Inscribed evidence so that it can be mobilized, to reach a wider (or more specific) audience? Translated your evidence so that it relates to an institutional issue? Through this, enrolled groups in support of specific problematizations, so as to secure particular people as the “obligatory passage point” with the power to frame the issue?