Hello, my name is Will Monroe, and I am the Head of Instructional Technology at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. I have not written for a blog before and I am very excited to have been asked to do so here during the month of May. I have worked as an educational technologist in a university environment for nine years. For six of those years I was also working on my Ph.D. in educational technology which, I am happy to say, is now done!
As some of my colleagues have noted, answering the question, “What do you do?”, can be difficult. I provide direct support and manage instructional technology services, I help design and lead audiovisual projects, I am responsible for the development of training and support materials, and I lead workshops for and provide consultation to faculty and students. These roles require me to schedule time acquiring new information each day, to refine how I learn, to share what I have learned and expand my connections with others, and help others to overcome their own limitations. So having said all this, it becomes easier for me to recognize that I am a teacher who happens to be an educational technologist.
These last two years, I’ve discovered much more interest from our faculty about blended/flipped classroom methodologies and the possibility of conducting online courses. Maybe this is due to the attention given to MOOCs or the surge of financing for ed tech startups. Maybe the possibility of more relaxed rules for online courses in legal education is responsible. But regardless of the reason, this faculty-driven interest has resulted in an increased amount of time I spend consulting and leading small workshops. It’s also meant that I need to stay abreast of developments in how online courses are being developed and supported. I find all of this to be very exciting. But it’s also demanding, as the scope of the instructional technology support services I manage (and provide) has also increased. Consequently, the biggest question I confront in my job right now is: how can I successfully transition into a role that includes instructional design and online course development while continuing to succcesfuly manage our support services?
So as I blog this month, I hope to be able to share my ongoing attempt to answer that question. One topic I will write about is the Working Group for Distance Learning in Legal Education, a small but growing group of folks in law schools from whom I’ve learned a great deal. I will also host a guest blogger who has developed an highly-sophisticated approach to streamlined course development that combines instructional design and project management. I hope that some of you will take part in this conversation with me as I’d really like to learn what challenges you face and how you have met them.
More to come!