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Q5: How do educational technologists gain institutional seniority and influence?

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Rebecca Galley
26 August 2009

' is frequently stated that the UK e-university did not have any acknowledged e-learning experts amongst its senior management and that, therefore, policy discussions had to begin at a lower level than an experienced team would expect'. Keegan et al., 2007, p.72)

Does the literature identify any issues around the placement of educational technologists within HEIs' power structures?

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lynne gornall
8:25am 1 September 2009 (Edited 12:51pm 13 September 2009)

The UK eU is a very particular example.  If we take HEIs in general, then the rise of Pro Vice Chancellor level roles or equivalent, with a brief for T&L has been something we have seen for a decade or so now. This may not be the same as a brief for 'eL' but it is definitely more than the old style 'academic' portfolio, with a new  emphasis on the student experience.  When conducting my own research a few years ago, I found that many learning technologies 'new professionals' had good access to senior/top levels of management through funded high-profile external/collaborative projects and developments, and indeed arising from the 'student experience' brief. Often, such PVCs were 'sponsors' of T&L developments or innovations, and the units those staff were in were also often outside traditional organisational structures.  This seems to have changed more recently, and I'm exploring this further; it's a changing landscape*.

Ref: Gornall, L (2004) unpublished thesis : New Professionals : academic work and occupational change in higher education. Cardiff University : doctoral thesis

* Please help with this research on current positioning of Learning Technologies staff : survey at

Gráinne Conole
10:32am 11 September 2009

Also Su White in her PhD has done some very interesting work in this area, see link above

lynne gornall
12:58pm 13 September 2009 (Edited 4:34pm 18 January 2010)

Hi Tamsin, thanks for your alert - annoying, my paste across missed '9' from the end, sorry. Here it is below > you will be re-directed by the url to the survey site

Grainne, Tamsin & colleagues - I'm just setting off (after ALT 09!) to present on 'new professionals - becoming indigenous?' at IPED 09 in Coventry - here's the link below for info; it will be interesting to hear Wenger etc -



Gráinne Conole
5:11pm 13 September 2009

Thanks Lynn - conference looks interresting and not one I have come across before. Dont suppose we can persuade you to set up a cloudscape on it and live blog things from the conference/add resources? Very cheeky of me to ask I know  ;-)

Tom Browne
9:36am 15 September 2009

Adding to Grainne's encouragement to Lynn.  Facinated by text in Lynn's 7th slide: ' 'These non-traditional posts and units are not yet encoded in much official reporting and yet are part of what most agree is a very significant change movement'.

Two more thoughts on this.  See the Shurville and Browne ref above.  We discuss the shift (if only)  from having acknowledged expertise to acquiring legitimate organisational power.   The discussion re.CIOs and CTOs mirrors in part some of the narrative in the JISC-funded report written by Duke et al (see above for reference and link).  The key finding was that 'managers who combine a deep understanding of technology with senior management experience remain uncommon in the sector'.  In conjunction with the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education, a number of recommendations are made, centred broadly around someone akin to a CIO being part of an institution's senior management team.


lynne gornall
1:44pm 16 September 2009

Hi - just back from IPED 09 where our team ran a guest Symposium on Working Lives in HE - incl the new professionals in L&T of course, but also looking at changes in academic work. Sorry I missed Grainne's post but I will put up a note about it when I've caught up. IPED is great, tho not 'ALT' and few take laptops into session or engage in constant e-dialogue! in fact I was offline 2 days... Wenger spent 24 hours with the conference and was very accessible. He talked about CoP of course but also ideas since. From the point of view of Q5 here, this is still an area of interest for me. More later - L

Tom Browne
3:16pm 15 October 2009

I've just added a reference by Luckin et al.  For 'initiating' by stealth' in the title, read 'subterfuge'.   None of the 3 authors are any longer at the institution at which this took place.  But all too briefly, Rose Luckin was Pro VC for Education, which made a massive difference.

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