July 31, 2009
The Educause 2009 survey of critical IT issues in higher education was released on the Educause Review web site. Topping the list among the top ten issues was IT Funding. Let's face it, funding is the number one issue on everybody's critical list. The full list is as follows:
1. Funding IT
2. Administrative/ERP Information Systems
5. Teaching and Learning with Technology
6. Identity/Access Management
7. Governance, Organization, and Leadership
8. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity
9. Agility, Adaptability, and Responsiveness
10. Learning Management Systems
Number 5 concerns me. In the notes to the top ten list, they explain that "the role of the CIO and other IT leaders is expanding to encompass many teaching and learning domains." In fact, this concern jumped from number 9 last year to number 5 this year. Teaching and learning with technology has been a significant part of many librarian's jobs. Historically, librarians were the first professionals to embrace new forms of technology and show others how to use it effectively in order to learn. In our case, to find, research, and learn about the law.
I reviewed the AALL core competencies to see how this ideal is represented by our national standards. I am somewhat disappointed to see that the standards for technology and for teaching are not joined in any meaningful way. Standard 4 is about Information Technology. We use terms like "practical use of" and "policy formation." Standard 6 centers on teaching. Here we come closer to the role CIOs hope to adopt (teaching and learning with technology), but we are still shy about identifying technology as a siginicant teaching vehicle for research and information literacy in the legal profession. Nor do we take responsiblity for embracing our role in this process. The subpoints in standard 6 revert back to "training" and "retrieval of information" instead of incorporating the elements of standard 4 into standard 6.
This is a problem.
Personally, I have trouble of thinking as our IT folks as educators. I do not mean to sterotype, but these professionals are not known for their people skills, or their end user savvy. Their ability to evaluate methods to teach effectively is hampered by the fact that they do not teach classes at their institution. They have other super power skills for which I am eternally grateful.
This role may not be the sole province of any particular professional, but I see it as a role filled more appropriately by an educational technologist, librarian, or any other educator that can envision changing their students' lives by teaching their "thing" with technology. Not by a technologist who uses technology to teach. There is a subtle difference.
Nevertheless, when it comes time to change our core competencies, I hope we can connect a line between teaching and technology. We need to embrace the leadership role that these two important facets of our profession place on us. We should not relenquish this role or our leadership in this are to those who do not teach. (vs)
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