Role of the Technology Enabler in Higher Education

In this section, I outline the power and benefits of employing a 'techology enabler' to effectively integrate technology into an organization rather than just train on technology.

White Paper - DRAFT

Instructional technology and the management of instructional technology is fluid. It is dynamic and ever-changing. No one size fits all.

I participated in OLC’s Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning program in 2018. Young leaders in online learning were brought together to explore and understand the wider world of online learning. Most of my peers in the group had positions related directly to instructional design. One of the things that became apparent was that the role of instructional designer is broadly interpreted and assigned. The actual function of instructional designers can vary widely from institution. In some cases, the role is limited to technology in the classroom, in others, the role is about curriculum design. Each institution seems to customize and manage the role based on their own needs. In fact, my cohort in the program is currently conducting a formal nation-wide research study on the organizational structures of online teams. If you would like to participate, I’ve included contact information for the study in the presentation materials I’ve uploaded.

I currently hold a faculty position in the School of Nursing at Washburn University in Topeka, KS, with the title of instructional designer. Instructional Designer is my title – but it is not what I do. My actual role is Technology Enabler. The role of Technology Enabler is the true role I have played throughout my professional career. My undergraduate degree is in Computer Science and the different job titles I’ve had is extensive.

Word cloud: programmer, trainer, project manager, educator, program manager, business analyst, systems analyst, consultant, instructional designer, researcher, interaction designer, author, entrepreneur

No matter where I’ve worked, or what title I’ve been given, the common thread running throughout has always been the challenge of how to successfully use and integrate the latest technology into an organization.

Problem statements:

  • New technology is always being introduced and faculty need to be introduced to how to use it, but more importantly, how to use it to improve the teaching and learning experience.
  • In general, technology in an organization is always under-utilized.  My research has shown that educators tend to only use the most basic features of an application.
  • There is a move toward more hybrid and online delivery models.  Faculty are unprepared for this transition.
  • New and adjunct faculty are always being introduced to the pool.  In general, they are uninformed about teaching and learning best practices as well as how to use technology in an educational setting.
  • We have an older faculty population.  In many cases, they only need to use technology or aspects of it sporadically.  They tend to forget how to do certain things from semester to semester.
  • Higher education is very competitive, and there was a drop in enrollment at Washburn.  We must continually find ways to deliver a better product.
  • In some ways, students are more sophisticated with technology, yet their skills with basic applications such as Word and PowerPoint are lagging. 
  • Students today are used to media-rich experiences, but our faculty are not skilled in creating and using these types of resources.

The purpose of this section is to demonstrate how a technology enabler can be used in an organization, how it can make a difference, and finally, what skills or aptitudes you should look for as you define the role of technology enabler for your own organization.

  • Systematic Evaluation Plan
  • Curriculum Review
  • Accreditation Visits
  • Office Administration
  • Setting up an Email Signature
  • Making a Word Cloud
  • Tiny URL
  • PDF Forms
  • NCLEX Pass Rate
  • Enrollment in PMHNP Program
  • Online Summer Workshops
  • Grants for New Technology

If you decide you want a Technology Enabler in your organization, these are recommendations for finding the right person.

Required Qualifications:

  • Masters degree
  • At least 8-10 years experience designing and implementing online courses
  • At least 2-3 years experience teaching courses
  • Familiar with Quality Matters or other quality initiative
  • Proficient in Access
  • Proficient in online evaluation systems
  • Proficient in HTML and web design
  • Proficient with range of technologies used in higher education

Desired Qualifications:

  • PhD preferred
  • Formal education in curriculum & instruction and education technology
  • Quality Matters Master Reviewer certification
  • Project Manager certification
  • Experience with administering online evaluation systems
  • Experience with using content management systems for web sites
  • Experience with Interaction Design, User-Centered Design, and Usability
  • Demonstrated history of scholarship
  • Considerations during interview:

  • Excellent trouble-shooting skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Proven ability to work well in teams
  • Proven ability to work with individuals with varying levels of technical skills
  • Essential attitudes:

  • Servant’s heart
  • Eye towards continual process improvement