What’s in a name? The ambiguity and complexity of technology enhanced learning roles

Concise paper

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Kate Mitchell
La Trobe University

Colin Simpson
Australian National University

Chie Adachi
Deakin University

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Tuesday 5 December, 11.40am – 12pm
Stream 6
Room T125


With the growing ubiquity of educational technology, there has been an increased need for specialised practitioners to advise on and support technology enhanced learning (TEL) within higher education. Academic developers, instructional designers and educational technologists are all examples of these skilled individuals typically working in ‘third space’ that crosses complex boundaries – between the pedagogical and technological, and the academic and professional. However, role titles and descriptions of duties are often unclear at best, with a lack of consistent terminology used across institutions and in the literature. This can lead to confusion and tensions when working with multiple institutional stakeholders and exacerbates ‘the academic/professional divide’ in Higher Education.

This paper presents a synthesis of key literature related to contemporary TEL advisor and support roles in Higher Education alongside a preliminary analysis of the 37 recent position descriptions of these roles. The application of social practice theory as our conceptual framework enables us to further explore the significance of practices in these TEL roles. This paper offers a step forward to the ways in which clarity and consistency of these roles might be sought. Future implications of this study are included for further consideration.

About the authors

Kate Mitchell

Kate Mitchell currently works as a Senior Educational Designer at La Trobe University where she supports teaching academics to incorporate blended and online learning into their practice. She has longstanding experience as a learning designer and as a teacher across secondary, vocational and higher education sectors. She is a member of the ePortfolios Australia organising committee and is a founding member and co-convenor of the ASCILITE TEL edvisors special interest group.

Kate recently completed her Master of Education research thesis exploring vocational educators’ perceptions of the factors shaping their use of e-Learning, including the relationships between individuals’ beliefs and motivations alongside institutional and external factors. Her research interests cover e-Learning integration, educational design and academic professional development and she is currently involved in research projects exploring ePortfolio use within nursing and education disciplines.

Colin Simpson

Colin Simpson has worked as a Learning Technologist, Education Designer and Academic Developer since 2003 and currently works in the College of Business and Economics at ANU. He is a founder and co-convenor of the ASCILITE TEL edvisors special interest group.

Colin has extensive experience in the design and development of media and interactive resources and a particular interest in game-based learning and gamification, including the use of badges. He has presented at a wide array of national and international conferences on these subjects. He is a Certified Member of the Association of Learning Technologists (CMALT), a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA). Colin is currently undertaking PhD research at the University of Sydney into the ways that TEL edvisors can better support TELT practices in Higher Education.
Colin blogs at http://screenface.net.

Chie Adachi

Dr Chie Adachi has a PhD in Linguistics (The University of Edinburgh) and has taught/worked at universities in Japan, UK and Australia over the past 12 years. Her current research interests lie within the areas of digital learning and teaching in higher education, sociolinguistics and intercultural education. She currently works as a Lecturer within the central Learning and Teaching unit, Deakin Learning Futures at Deakin University, Melbourne. Since 2017 she has been involved with the ASCILITE Special Interest Group, TELedvisors, as one of the co-founders serving to create a collaborative space and empower advisors working within the area of Technology Enhanced Learning.