What is a Learning Technologist?

The question of what is a learning technologist has been on my mind quite a lot recently, for a number of different reasons. Firstly, my new role here at GGU involves me working very closely with our school based learning technologists, so I am in the process of getting to know them and their varied work and backgrounds better.   There certainly isn’t a one size fits all LT at Glasgow Cally, and (imho) that is a good and very necessary thing. Like most institutions, each of our three schools has different needs and expectations to fulfil and develop their learning and teaching provision, and the LTs in each school work with “their” academics to develop the use of technology and blended learning approaches.

Yesterday I spotted some tweets from David Hopkins (one of my favourite learning technologists)  linking to a piece of work he is undertaking in conjunction with Geraldine Murphy and Rachel Challen from Loughborough College, which is exploring the identity of a Learning Technologist through the “analysis of language”.  The full project brief is available here.  The main data collection is via twitter using the #LTFE and #LTHE hashtags between now and December. Already there are a range of different responses coming through.  David has written a number of posts around this question too which are well worth reading.

The other reason this question has been on my mind recently is because, as you may know dear reader, in September I won the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year award.  I was of course thrilled to win the award, and as I said at the time I felt it was recognition for the work and sharing with the community that everyone in Cetis was/is involved in.  I think it importantly highlighted another really important aspect of the role of a learning technologist – that of sharing.  Increasingly I was (and continue to) share via my online presence (via blogging and twitter in particular).  In my institutional role I’ll now be doing more face to face sharing and working, but I’ll still continue to share with my extended virtual network, and use to it to continue to increasing my knowledge via the “good stuff” others share.

I have always liked the term Learning Technologist, in fact it was probably my favourite job title. In some ways I think that was down to the diversity of the role, and the backgrounds of people in the role (particularly 10 years ago or so when I actually was one!).  So a part of me hopes that there will always be a quite a bit of space for ambiguity about the exact role and skill set of learning technologist as it is always evolving and shouldn’t become too rigid.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the end results of the project, and how  Learning Technologists themselves describe their varied roles.

10 comments

  1. Hi Sheila. Thanks for this. I find the terminology around LT positions, and the way in which job descriptions and job specifications differ between universities (and sometimes even within them too) quite amazing. It also needs stating, as you do here, that they need to be different as the roles are often very different, as are the requirements for the individual talents.

    So why is it then that so many adverts for jobs all sound the same? When I was job hunting a couple of years ago I could almost see the same text and requirements listed, even though I knew form reading about the institution that the job would be very different from the advert? Is it the difference between on-the-ground knowledge of the role and what HR will permit to be included in a job advert? Is this enough for managers to allow flexibility in the role, and the individual doing it, from the prescribed ‘this is your daily task’ list? What happens when it comes to appraisal time … is the work we do (which is often above and beyond the ‘basic’ requirements) enough to show development and dedication, or should we be working according to the paperwork and not what we perceive to be needed when we meet with staff?

    All questions I’ve not been able to answer, and not too sure I want to open that can of worms.

    All the best, David

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