Theoretical Impacts on Practice: Integrating Critical Perspectives into Our Work

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

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Brief Abstract

In this presentation, I explore how professionals working in the higher education space can use contemporary social theory to challenge existing paradigms, make sense of the world we're operating in, helps us predict phenomena, and of course, helps us gain much needed perspective in a rapidly changing educational landscape.

Presenters

Lindsay is currently serving as the Interim Director of Instructional Design and Learning Support at UCLA Extension. Lindsay began her teaching career at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 2004. Since then, she has piloted and evaluated online programs at NMSU, taught online and hybrid courses at NMSU, UCLA Extension, and Santa Monica College, and developed serious games and training simulations at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (USC-ICT). She continues to teach professional development workshops on occasion through the Instructor Development Program at UCLA Extension's Office of Instructional Enhancement. Lindsay holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Lewis-Clark State College in English, with minors in creative writing and Spanish. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at UCLA.

Extended Abstract

“Innovation” is a term often used in higher education to describe the assessment of the current state of our universities and the programs and learning opportunities they offer and to envision new potential futures for our students through our instructional and administrative interventions. With respect to online learning, “innovation” often involves the deployment of new tools and technologies to enhance access and interaction in learning spaces, the development of novel support structures that personalize the learning experiences for students, or perhaps leveraging learner analytics and data in unique or institutionally-specific ways to form the foundation for data-driven decision-making. Today, higher education administrators and instructors teaching blended and online courses have a bevy of tools available at their disposal as the educational technology sector continues to grow at a rapid pace, in response to the needs of our learning institutions and organizations and the growing market for such tools and platforms.

As professionals working in higher education, it is often difficult to recognize the multiplicity of systems and structures of power we are working within, under the rubric of the “newness” of emergent technologies. To the extent that the thrust of innovation relies on notions of the “new,” there is a strong need for theoretical foundations for critically assessing not only the current states of our learning institutions, organizations, and individual teaching practices but to ensure that our strategic initiatives around innovation are not unwittingly marginalizing certain populations, privileging others, and providing equitable opportunities for all students.

In this presentation, I explore how professionals working in the higher education space can use contemporary social theories to challenge and critique existing paradigms, make sense of the world we're operating in, helps us predict phenomena, and of course, helps us gain much needed perspective in a rapidly changing educational landscape. The session will explore a practical use of critical social theory in the higher education space.

Cases include:

  • Leveraging the work of DiMaggio and Powell to understand patterns of innovation at the organizational level
  • Leveraging the work of Foucault to critique practices of online surveillance and monitoring in the online learning environment

The session will conclude by exploring tools and resources for conducting inquiry into specific field-based issues in an increasingly tool-driven, “massified” educational environment where problems (and solutions) are often illusive, ill-defined, and difficult to articulate.