by George Veletsianos.  

Hi everyone,

I hope your week is going well!

A few blog posts arrived in my RSS inbox so far, identifying relevant lessons related to this week’s reading. Rod reflects on the difficulty of change. This is a recurrent theme in Weller’s writing. In the chapter on LMS he alludes to software sedimentation, as a process by which a particular technology becomes embedded in an organization and starts to shape various activities. In Rod’s example, sedimentation was formed around existing practice, making it difficult to introduce a new technology. In Weller’s writing, the argument goes like this: once a learning management system is embedded within a school or college/university, it gains a stronghold on the institution, making any deviation from it difficult.

I’d like to share a recent example to help you see how this could play out in the future. In April, I had a conversation with a colleague who has a high-level position in a large US community college system. This person is responsible for making purchasing decisions for shared software, meaning that instead of each institution purchasing a tool for their own use, the system purchases software for all institutions for shared use (we use a similar model in BC for some software through an organization called BCNet). In April, the system bought licenses to proctoring software and faculty began asking to use the software, largely because proctoring makes it easy to replicate a closed-book exam and at the time it was much easier to replicate a familiar practice than develop alternative means of assessment. For various good reasons, this individual opposes the use of proctoring software in higher education, but their major concern was around sedimentation: once the software is introduced, once exams and assignments are developed around it, once guides are produces and distributed, once courses are developed, it would then become really difficult for individuals and colleges to extract themselves from this technology. One way to respond to this problem is to ask: Is this technology that we are inviting in our classroom “good” for teaching and learning? Asking this question means avoiding taking for granted the idea that technology always improves education, and looking at technology with a critical lens. Patrick also brings up this point of looking at technology critically. Weller’s ideas for combating this sedimentation revolve around this critical approach:

I’ll pause here for now. I look forward to seeing more of your posts show up in the next couple of days. As a reminder, if you’d like to ask Martin a question, please add your question to this document by Sunday evening.

Talk to you soon, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out if I may be of any help!