Josie over at EdTechUk mentioned something the other day about this whole promoting / supporting / commentary that got me thinking:
“Perhaps we can use this current moment of galvanisation to begin to come up with a coherent community response to the spectre of administrative misunderstanding and censorship.”
Well, a ‘whole community’ response might be a bit difficult, but that’s not to say that individual exponents of weblogs, wikis, webfeeds, open source CMSs and alike couldn’t be better equipped with a set of objections & rebuttals. It would be equally nice to have a set of possibilities of the kind Anne (I think) came up with the other day, but let’s start with the mean & nasty stuff… helps to be balanced… and besides I (and many others) have been writing about possibilities for a fair bit now.
In relation to my job, after some further communication it now seems like I may be able to continue to pursue this area as part of my ‘professional research interest’, which is great if a little unwieldy (as each project I enter into is now going to have to have research / publication outcomes, gulp), but the objection to promotion and support within the University remains the same. This time it’s not down to my ‘commentary’ on the issue or even policy and procedure (which encourages me to think that the implied threat to prohibit my right of expression may not be carried through) but rather that:
-As any projects will be supported ‘only by me’ (i.e. I hold the keys) are not feasible as I may get sick / move off.
-I can only do this with a handful of academics so a. This won’t be scalable, b. Other academics may perceive this as favouritism (as I can’t support this with everyone) & c. This may set up unreasonable expectations of level of support.
-In order for any such exploration and use to take place it would need to happen with clearly established needs, supporting resources, $$$s and people available.
So, forgetting about the ‘policy’ argument (i.e taking it as said that a University should have policy which doesn’t dictate ‘You will use x CMS’) and taking it as granted that I have the right, nay obligation, to speak freely in this area. How can I tackle these areas?
For me it basically boils down to one simple objection, you can’t do anything as central support without full implementation / provision for everyone which, regardless of the technology or processes, leads to a far simpler question, “How can am academic institution be centrally responsible, sustainable and at the same time supportive of innovation?”. I’d argue that while a central body (providing, for example, support, training, consultation etc. ) needs to coordinate and facilitate the provision and use of central systems (such as a CMS), at the same time they should focus on facilitating, through support, the decentralised development of practices which can then inform the centralised operations.
That this support needs to be so clearly couched in institutional processes or heavy duty research projects, however, would seem to be contradictory to the more action-researched, experimental and often serendipitously led nature of innovative projects, especially when related to new technologies which, as Rob Reynolds pointed out very well in his broadcast (link may break – 3 Nov 04 archive) on this issue, we don’t really have any idea about.
I think that you cannot really argue against innovation on the basis of sustainability or even scalability and that the type of managerialism that seeks to control, measure and define these kind of practices is highly counter productive. I think that you can allow space, support, time and the opportunity to mess up while at the same time providing solid centralized sustainable and reportable systems. In fact, I think you should.
What do other people reckon? Is this a reasonable response to this kind of objection or am I off target? I’m also not very well-versed in the field of management / innovation etc. (what, you couldn’t tell ;o) so any papers, resources in this area are v. much appreciated!)
What kind of objections have you faced or can you envisage around institutionally supporting these technologies? How do ya reckon we can shoot ’em down?
Perhaps we could put together a pretty nifty, inter-blog set of issues & possible solutions…