Some advice from below to my ed techie friends above. Career climbing involves risky routes. Without clear boundaries, an unending 24/7 passage awaits the enthusiastic networked sherpa. The online world, with all its advantages, has little respect for the traditional pathways that once characterized the standard 9-5 job.
Watch where you place your feet. Before moving anywhere, inspect the stability of the ground. In this any-time any-place world, make sure that you know the up and coming terrain. Slipping unexpectedly where the tread is uneven or unsure can be sore. Be aware. Read the warning signs. Notice the red flags before you press on upwards and apply for a new position.
The flags relate particularly to eLearning positions in an academic environment. But they might apply elsewhere. Before you fill in that application form, ask yourself these 5 questions.
- Flag 1: Why is the position vacant?
How long was the previous incumbent in the advertised position? Are other potential colleagues in acting positions? How long has senior management been there? Have there been unexpected departures or a high staff turnover?
- Flag 2: Are you going to be working for a boss?
Bureaucrat, boss or leader? Does the head of the academic unit have any credibility among his/her academic peers? What does his/her academic profile look like? Have you spotted his/her digital footprints? Don’t be confused by his/her electronic puffery. Expect at least a national leader with peer recognition and academic substance.
- Flag 3: Does the institution understand their users?
What’s it like from the bottom up? Pretend to be a student who has lost a password. Phone the helpdesk with a query. See how they respond. Find out what the LMS is called. Then search for mentions on Twitter. Look for support materials authored by the unit. Are there genuine attempts to communicate urgent information to all students, academics, support etc?
- Flag 4: Does the unit make regular attempts to communicate with their stakeholders
How transparent is the unit/department? Website? Social Media Account? What’s the balance between marketing and communication content? Any recent collaborations within the institution or beyond? Do they disclose any details or are they just releasing press statements?
- Flag 5: Do the people that work there make attempts to reflect and research their practice?
Can you find blog posts, academic policies, peer reviewed journal articles or conference paper pertaining to the unit’s focus? Check out the advert again. What’s the job focus? Combine the focus with the institution’s name on Google scholar. Any papers? Any substance? If they are thinking and researching their work, then they’ll be sharing it with others and glad to share with you.
My listicle consists of 10 red flags. The first five (see above) are for ed techies to consider before they take the job. And the second five (to be added later) are intended for shortlisted ed techies, considering whether they should move on up and accept the job offer.
Next five flags will follow