Intellagirl’s recent comment on the EDUPUNK discussion highlights an issue I’ve been struggling with lately. Her comment raised a concern about the notion of “non-cooperation” with more standardized forms of closed/proprietary educational technologies, specifically exploring the issues with non-cooperation as they relate to helping faculty who aren’t interested in ed tech (and/or are not tech-savvy). This gets right at a question I’m interested in hearing from others about.
I stopped using our out-of-the-box CMS system nearly three semesters ago, but many of my colleagues in the department and the institution still do. It meets their basic needs for course management (dealing with distributing readings, syllabi, assignments, grade posting, limited discussions, digital drop-off, etc.) However, as one of the people seen as an informal departmental (and building) ed tech resource I get lots of questions about how aspects of the CMS works. People want help on the grade book, on arrangements for discussions, on how to best set up online assignments in the CMS, or just basic troubleshooting.
Some of these questions I can answer, but since it’s been 18 months since I used it last, and since the school has upgraded to a new version of the CMS since then, there are a number of questions I can’t answer.
This raises the following questions:
- Should I spend some valuable time diving back into the campus’s proprietary CMS in order to better help them do what they need to do in it?
- Should I just send them off to campus tech support, knowing that in doing so, at least some of them will stop looking to me for advice on tech issues?
- Should I use these moments as opportunities to make a hard sell for going outside the CMS for options, knowing that for some of these faculty, even going to the CMS was more change than they were interested in, and knowing that for others, the issues of lack of stability/uniformity/secure access, etc. would make their outside-the-CMS experience at a minimum frustrating, and potentially a deal-breaker? [I’m aware that’s a ridiculously long question, but I see this as a fairly complex issue.]
How do we help faculty who are at least nominally interested in engaging with educational technology, when we don’t always see that particular tech as being the best way to approach these questions? And how do we approach a technology resource that others use but we don’t? Should we just dismiss it, or should we continue to facilitate its usage?
Any feedback on this issue would be greatly appreciated.