Last week I was out for dinner with some former colleagues. Over the course of the evening the conversation inevitably turned to educational development. I was struck by a comment one of my companions made. He said that if educational developers are doing their job effectively then they should be invisible. He qualified this by saying that ultimately you want to take staff to a point where they are making changes and and developing their own educational practice and away they go, and forget about you. Maybe a bit like learning to ride a bike, the moment you let go and see your little’un wobble away and move all by themselves means far more to you than the newly confident independent cyclist. They are lost in the moment and achievement of their own success. They’re not really thinking about how they there.
Whilst I agree with the overall sentiment, and indeed reality, of this, the invisibility bit does trouble me a bit. I don’t know if you ever think about what superpower you would like. Invisibility pretty high on the list of choices I guess. I often joke to people that I think I have invisibility superpowers, but only at seemingly random times. I never seem to know when my “powers” are working – particularly when I am walking in a busy street and people seem to think that they can walk through me. Anyway, I digress.
In educational development and development of using technology in education, I think we all feel a bit invisible but in a positive way as described above. I guess we all know that warm, fuzzy feeling when someone tries something you should them with their students and it works, and how in turn your role in introducing that element fades.
This is absolutely fine and in an ideal world we would all be happy with that invisibility switch. However in the current climate where we are all operating under increasing financial and regulatory pressure, we do need to ensure our development activities are recognised, and innovation in using technology in education is supported and not cut back because “everyone/thing is digital now.”
External validation is often easier to find than internal, and at this time of year there is a great opportunity to support both individual and teams from our community in the annual ALT Learning Technology Awards. Once again the voting has opened up with the community choice awards, where anyone can vote via email or twitter.
This year, yet again there is another is another fabulous short list of individuals and teams, so why not celebrate their achievements by voting for them. Getting to the short list is an tremendous achievement worth celebrating in itself.
I am looking forward to finding out this year’s winners at the ALT conference in a couple of weeks, but as a Trustee and Vice-Chair Elect (that line is for you, Mr Hawksey) it’s not appropriate for me to vote. However, as a previous LToTY winner, I know what it means to have the invisibility switch well and truly off for a bit. So ’til then, getting voting. You have until (high) noon on the 7th of September.