Create a shared vision and culture for using technology to learn and accelerate transformation through the coaching process.
I have worked at Seattle Pacific University for the past 15 years. At different times and in different roles, I was able to help structure the and bring to life, the vision I had for what the use of technology could be like — whether that be in the classroom or in the workplace.
My general technology philosophy is that it should help and not become a hinderance to people. I know it’s not always possible to view each new technology hardware or software in this manner, but it’s my hope that by providing training, documentation, and access to support and resources, that I can help make a variety of tools more approachable and easier to use. Sometimes, this means making use of technology integration frameworks like SAMR or TPACK, but sometimes it means meeting a person where they’re at in the moment and doing what I can do to make using the tool easier.
I had the opportunity to create a Digital Learning Mission Statement early on in the program and that process allowed me to expand on the three main values that drive how I think about technology. These values are Integrity, Equity and Care. I chose each value because as a system administrator, I need to research, evaluate, adopt, implement, support, and troubleshoot technology systems and hardware on campus. I think to do those things well, I need to have integrity (as a moral virtue, not accuracy of data in a system) at all levels of my work. I also care deeply about issues of accessibility and so equity became a focal point – I am related so someone with a hearing disability and am married to someone who grew up in another country. Their unique perspectives and experiences have opened my eyes and fortunately, I’ve held positions where I can do things to make things a little bit better and a little more inclusive on a regular basis. My third chosen value is care and I wanted to choose this one specifically because I think it’s incredibly difficult to make care a tangible value in spaces where technology is used, I wanted people to be able to look back on the decisions I made and the interactions I had with them, so that they could see and feel care, not just through my relationships, but in the choices I made about technology.
All these values helped drive the professional development I chose to emphasize to campus during the pandemic.
My team focused a lot on care and what that looked like in online spaces. There were sessions about Community & Taking the Pulse of your Course, Inclusivity & Accessibility and Protecting Student Data.
Ultimately, for me, the real place where change happened was when I had one on one interactions with faculty, adjuncts, and staff. This is where I learned about their hopes for their respective roles on campus and how I could help them bring these hopes to life. Sometimes, that meant exploring new and exciting technologies and ways of engaging and sometimes that meant having conversations about why a technology or choice related to the use of a technology could cause issues. It’s these support calls where I felt like I had the biggest opportunity to be a change agent.
Koehler, M. 2012. TPACK Explained. http://matt-koehler.com/tpack2/tpack-explained/?msclkid=ac2fc06bb92a11ecb306929d1e8f96c0. Pulled April 10, 2022.
Terada, Y. 2020. Edutopia. A powerful model for understanding good tech integration. https://www.edutopia.org/article/powerful-model-understanding-good-tech-integration?msclkid=82829af1b92a11ecb73ffe7abf0c5f1d. Pulled April 10, 2022.
msclkid=82829af1b92a11ecb73ffe7abf0c5f1d. Pulled April 10, 2022.
Facilitate equitable use of digital learning tools and content that meet the needs of each learner.
Equitable use of technology is something that I have always cared about. When the opportunity arose for me to serve on an Accessibility Task Force, I jumped! This lead me having a role in the creation of the Universal Design and Accessibility pages on SPU’s IT department’s wiki and the first iteration of an online form across all SPU web pages that allowed people to submit accessibility issues so they could be resolved. Although that task force was disbanded after its first year, the things I learned during that time stuck with me. I carried that experience with me as an Associate Director of Educational Technology & Media and continue to carry it with me as a CIS HelpDesk Manager.
One of the ways I’ve been able to facilitate equitable use has been through demonstrating how to use different accessibility features, such as enabling live transcription on every Zoom call my team hosted. I also made time for our student employees to enable closed captions on all our videos (including work on our backlog) and go through all our online resources to ensure we had an accessible wiki and that any documents we used had structure. This even lead to my department documenting our process and having one of our student workers share her experience on the ETM Blog.
Not only did I incorporate accessibility and principles of UDL into my work, but I also became an advocate for issues of equity in technology towards others. I gave a presentation about the historical practice of Redlining in Seattle and its impact on the current Digital Divide to Library and ETM staff and have given professional development presentations about Inclusivity and Accessibility to faculty and adjuncts too.
One of the next areas I want to explore, regarding accessibility in the classroom and workspace, is how to expand that care beyond the teacher or immediate supervisor, so that an entire community or group has the mindset that assistive technology empowers all learners (and workers too!).
Cultivate a supportive coaching culture that encourages educators and leaders to achieve a shared vision and individual goals.
I can’t think of a better piece of work to reference for this point than the work I did to create a “remote teaching template” for campus to use. Oregon State University’s Online school had shared a Canvas template that they were using across their campus and after discussing that with my supervisor, we decided to adapt it and create one for SPU too. The remote teaching template went further than I could’ve even dreamed possible. At the time, I just wanted the portion of our campus that used our LMS to have a resource that helped them quickly move from in-person teaching to online as fast as possible.
This template was put into hundreds of courses, according to Canvas Commons, we have 346 downloads, and it lead to the creation of multiple department templates, including one of our colleges taking advantage of a feature in Canvas called blueprint courses, to provide every single course in their school a specific template that was developed by their staff and faculty.
For me, this point isn’t just about my relationship with faculty and ability to develop collegiality and any particular culture, but it’s also about the quality of resources I provide to help faculty be successful. Resources like the Remote Teaching Template (zip file download), the ETM website and ETM Wiki are all part of creating a culture that supports faculty. ETM is a small team and realistically, there’s no way for two people to support 500+ faculty and adjuncts and so the resources we provided online became extensions of ourselves in order to support as many people as possible.
Recognize educators across the organization who use technology effectively to enable high-impact teaching and learning.
In my experience, faculty are more receptive to hearing about technology integrations and things that change their classroom when it’s from another faculty member and not an administrator. What’s an administrator like me to do then?
I think one of the ways administrators like myself and meet faculty where they are at, is to partner with other faculty and department chairs, whether it’s to introduce a new concept, like having faculty talk about how they give meaningful feedback at an informal lunch gathering, or sharing about their research, to in my current role, partnering with the department chair (an in some cases other departments on campus) to learn about key issues or being more communicative on issues that impact faculty use of classrooms, each interaction is an opportunity to recognize and share the work that faculty are doing.
In my previous role I had a more direct opportunity to recognize and pull other faculty into conversations and professional developments we were having. For example, we could provide honorariums for faculty, and I started an Idea Board so faculty could share how they collaborate with ETM on projects, so other faculty could also learn and know about what was happening in other departments.
During the Pandemic, we tried to be intentional about pulling faculty voices into our professional development. This led to the development and use of Discussion Boards in our various Academies that focused on preparing participants to teach effectively online, that would allow faculty to share their work with each other, but also for us to reach out to faculty we knew who had a leading voice in a topic of interest to share their experience with others.
In my previous role as Associate Director one of the more exciting projects I was lucky enough to take part in, was the creation and development of an online quizzing tool called GeoQuiz, that integrated with our Learning Management System. The project was so significant that we wanted to work with both of the faculty involved to present their work at a conference. While I didn’t directly get to give the presentation (I made a 3-5 minute video about the admin console) it was exciting for me to see a faculty idea come to life and see it turn into a conference proposal and presentation.
Download a copy of the GeoQuiz Application Presentation
Connect leaders, educators, instructional support, technical support, domain experts and solution providers to maximize the potential of technology for learning.
When it comes to working in technology in higher education, it’s incredibly important to be able to work collaboratively with other areas. In my experience, departments can be “siloed” with artificial walls, due to reporting lines that can make knowing you need in order to meet campus needs and collaborate on projects difficult. As an administrator, I think collaboration is an important and key part of being successful when bringing forth important initiatives, like Digital Transformation. Collaboration across departments is also part of what creates a student-centric learning experience. It isn’t just faculty or groups that interface directly with students that are responsible for creating a student-centric learning environment, but all departments and programs working together and communicating to have a cohesive plan that can have significant impact.
One of the ways I saw collaboration working effectively in my position was the handoff between Educational Technology & Media (ETM) and Disability Support Services (DSS). We met often and we recognized that we all wanted to provide a quality learning experience and so that meant our teams needed to sit down and learn about each other’s processes and perspectives to see where we could make improvements and how we could solidify the partnership and handoff of issues between our two areas. By working collaboratively to support students, we in turn created a relationship with other staff in the DSS and Center for Learning (CFL) area, which lead to other partnerships together, such as the creation of a Student Essentials: Remote Learning course that all students could take during the pandemic, which was an online course/resource that provided information to students on how to be successful in online courses. I don’t think this course could’ve come together as well as it did and, in the timeframe, it needed to, were it not for our previous work to collaborate with their areas.
Other examples are how I partnered with other departments have been in my old position when I worked with the Faculty Life Office to create professional development sessions for their “Hump Day” gatherings for faculty and regularly met with our IT department to ensure we were on the same page in the support of faculty and we each knew what major issues were impacting campus and how we could address them together.