Part 2 of my reflections on the UW LTDC and Site Admin meeting; thinking about leadership, innovation, and disruption.
It’s been a while since the meeting but I’d started this in an effort to think a bit more about the session about leadership and innovation. The presenters (Leif Nelson UW Green Bay and Renee Pfeifer-Luckett UW Whitewater) and others who contributed had all been through various leadership programs; such as those offered by Educause (in both IT and Learning Tech flavours) [there was another program discussed , I think Sloan related ?]*. They made some interesting points about the distinctiveness of each of the programs – the ELI program considered the big picture of how LT and leadership impacted and interacted with the institution as a whole, the ‘regular’ Educause IT Management program had an emphasis on knowing yourself and [others]*.
The session then went on to consider (after Christensen) the impact and differences between disruptive technology and disruptive innovation. Disruptive technology is an evolution of existing technology (eg CD, iPod) and disruptive innovation is a new paradigm (eg MP3, iPhone). With this framework and distinctions in mind we were asked to create some criteria to compare and contrast LMS and Social networks.
Our quickly brainstormed criteria were: Look and Feel, Accessibility, Personalization, Flexible, Easy, Safe, Available, Affordable, Reliable, Help, Portable, Expandable, Scalable, Local control, Support for rich media, Analytics, Sustainability, Interoperability, Community (added by another group), Privacy (added by another group).
Even without the key, you’ll see that one of the options seemed to fare better in our analysis.
During the exercise, it’s fair to say that we were carried along by the sheer ease of use and connectedness of social networks. We occasionally bumped up against a slight feeling of unease but not at a level that came through in the graph. On the day hearing others report, I couldn’t help thinking that we had missed something of education in this – our discussion of innovation was perhaps more focused on a generic user rather than an educational user.
I should note that the point of the exercise was not a careful analysis or comparison it was to provide a taster of the type of exercise one might develop and work with in the leadership training programs and get us thinking in a small way about innovation and how we assess technologies.
On reflection perhaps one of the things missed was about integration, educational functionality, and opportunity cost. You could do all this stuff and make a DIY LMS in an educational context with social networks (there are challenges and considerations but it can be done and is being done). However, the concern is that it requires significant effort, doesn’t join up with other systems, and most importantly if an instructor is expending effort on A their capactiy for B may be limited. I’m not making the case that if they are spending all their effort on teaching their research will be limited, it’s the case that if they’re spending all their effort on stringing together an LMS their capacity to be innovative elsewhere in their teaching will be limited.It’s thinking about whether technological innovation is displacing pedagogical innovation.
I don’t doubt for a second that we’ll see disruptive innovation in the “lms market’ [if it continues], but it’ll have to either figure out how to work with legacy stuff or be part of a wider paradigm shift in University IT.
*my partial notes and elapsed time have left some gaps Please comment with what I missed and I’ll edit the information in.
Link to part 1