Education

Large-scale educational technology conference returns with a focus on people-oriented

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Philadelphia-This week, university technology leaders gathered here for the first face-to-face Educause meeting since the pandemic began. Participating in the conference and walking in the exhibition hall, I feel that the focus is on the founding value of the city: brotherly love.

“Empathy seems to be the theme of this Educause,” said Ken Gratz, director of teaching, learning and technical services at Winona State University.

This is in sharp contrast to the last face-to-face Educause event in 2019, which used humans as data points entirely. This year’s conference emphasized that human beings are…human beings. The original sentiment of the past year and a half is the subtext of several breakout sessions and keynote speeches—sometimes the actual text. After all, now exhausted in higher education, John O’Brien, President and CEO of Educause, told the banquet hall of the participants wearing masks, adding, “We can’t assume that our colleagues are all right. .”

Some speakers directly discussed empathy, such as Graetz, who co-chaired a conference on integrating more empathy into online course design. The other is Princeton African American Studies Professor Ruha Benjamin (Ruha Benjamin), who gave a speech on how racism penetrates and is shaped by educational technology and other tools.

“The way we distribute empathy is not natural, but shaped by our environment”-such as our digital environment, Benjamin said.

University leaders and others gathered in Philadelphia this week for the first face-to-face Educause meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other speakers encouraged attendees to strive to achieve better work-life balance, accept new flexible work arrangements and tend to be vulnerable. This is the advice given by the four CIOs when describing how they will lead the university technical team through the COVID-19 crisis.

Helen Norris, vice president and chief information officer of Chapman University, said: “Your employees need to see you taking care of themselves so they can feel capable of taking care of themselves.”

Susan Grajek, Educause’s vice president of partnerships, community, and research, said that even the event that revealed Educause’s annual list of the hottest IT issues in higher education for the coming year is close to “new territory” because the 2022 list is “all about people.” She added that this is the first time the list treats students as not only learners or customers, but also humans.

Amidst the chorus of concern, discordant voices sounded in the exhibition hall, where controversial examination tools and services were conspicuously displayed, and their booth was also staffed with a large number of people. Throughout the pandemic, many students and faculty members opposed the use of surveillance systems to monitor students taking remote exams—other professors said they turned to this approach because they noticed an increase in cheating.

Tensions about evaluation, trust, and technology surfaced in the conversations and materials throughout the conference, such as in a poster showing “Promoting academic integrity in online’open note-taking’ exams without monitoring software.” And a conference description stated that “electronic proctoring may be the most problematic solution used by universities in online learning. Leaders of university teaching and learning centers are trying to solve the so-called “invigilation debate” by encouraging professors to stay away from high-risk exams. , But although many teachers seem to be willing to try other methods at first, this sometimes requires more time and energy than they currently have.

At the same time, slogans posted around the conference center made more than 3,000 on-site participants aware of the importance of health and reminded them to “respect comfort.” Only approach those who show they are ready-whether it’s a “discreet chat” or an “elbow bump.”

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