Friday, October 19, 2007

Of under-desk keyboard trays, Magellan, and Instructional Technologists

I'm in the (very) early stages of gathering ideas for a job talk or some other presentation on the role of instructional designer and technologist as educational innovator and explorer. More than this, it is about living a life continual innovation and exploration (learning?), and helping build a culture of innovation around you. It seems related to other notions on my mind of late:

  • Web 2.0
  • learner/student/user-generated content
  • democratic forms of teaching and learning
I was pleasantly struck by a recent post by a co-worker , Jin An. He solved a simple problem he had with the keyboard tray stuck under many of our desks--what to do with the thing if your don't use it?! The point is not his solution, but the fact that he first documented the problem, and then shared his solution with all of us on our office blog. Nothing earth-shattering, just a simple solution, shared easily and in a helpful way with his peers. The blog platform, easy access to a digital camera (phone?) and my RSS feed brought his solution to my door step (computer screen).

No staff meeting, no training, no manual...just a beautifully simple example continuous exploration and innovation that I hope we all exhibit no matter what sphere we work in, no matter what our job or tasks are.

A key point here is that Jin exhibits the profession of educational explorer/innovator. Finding and keeping the solution for himself would have been completely appropriate and would have served his needs no less. A traveler, for example, can enjoy his/her travels and gawk at the wonder of it all. But in charting new territory in the rapidly changing landscape of educational technology and learning, like the explorers of yore (Magellan, Lewis & Clark, Cook, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Zheng He), our job as instructional designers and technologists in the profession of educational explorer/innovator, is to document and share (publish) our discoveries.

I find myself too often selfish in my discoveries as I fail to share or adequately evaluate and document my personal discoveries for those that may follow. I may need to kick off another blog for my discoveries that don't quite fit the format and purpose of this blog. Hmmm. I'll give that some thought.

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