Making the Case for the Role of Technology Enabler in Higher Education

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session Leadership

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Instructional Designer is my title – but it is not what I do.  My actual role is Technology Enabler.  In this session I describe the role of technology enabler, the potential impact on the organization, and the benefit to the bottom line for including a technology enabler in your organization.


Dr. Merillat's experience and skills represent a union between technology, education, and interaction design. In the course of her career she has played many different roles: programmer, systems analyst, business analyst, interaction designer, program manager, project manager, consultant, trainer, educator, instructional designer, researcher, author, and entrepreneur. The common thread running throughout has always been the challenge of how to successfully use and integrate the latest technology into an organization. Dr.Merillat is currently at Washburn University, Topeka, KS in the faculty role of Instructional Designer in the School of Nursing.

Extended Abstract

College enrollments continue to decline.  Having strategies to differentiate programs from competing programs is crucial in today’s competitive environment.  Thoughtful, effective integration of technology can make a difference.  The recent pandemic has forced institutions of higher education to rethink and retool how they work and how they will continue to provide meaningful learning experiences to their students. 

Institutions of higher education are organized around colleges or schools and departments. In most departments in a college or university, the personnel include administrators, faculty, adjuncts, and administrative staff.  Technology support and instructional design are often centralized.  This session advocates for embedding someone within a department or shared among a few departments that can serve in the role of technology enabler. The goal of technology enablers is to make the lives of the individuals they serve easier.  

Technology is awesome!  However, technology alone is not the answer.  Technology is only transformative when it is used effectively and using technology effectively does not just happen. The technology enabler can facilitate transformation within their organizations by: 

  • Systematizing and organizing the work 

  • Establishing standards and benchmarks 

  • Offering 1-1 professional development 

  • Promoting best practices 

  • Training new faculty 

  • Providing just-in-time instruction and help 

  • Finding innovative solutions to thorny problems using technology 

  • Managing 3rd party tools and integration 

  • Preparing the organization for emerging technologies 

  • Moving from collecting data to providing information 

  • Streamlining administrative processes 

  • Finding solutions in times of crisis 

  • Sharing the little things 

  • Contributing to the bottom line

Throughout the session, participants are asked to acknowledge if they have encountered similar “opportunities” within their own organizations.

As programs strive for excellence, administrators are always looking for ways to improve their organizations.  Engaging a technology enabler may be a strategy they have never considered before.  

In summary, participants discover the idea of a technology enabler, explore how a technology enabler can impact their organizations, realize how a technology enabler can contribute to the bottom line, and establish the recommended skills for finding a technology enabler for their organization.