Changing technologies, changing identities: A case study of professional staff and their contributions to learning and teaching

Publisher:
Routledge
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 2013, 17 (2), pp. 62 - 70
Issue Date:
2013-01
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Although much has been written about the impact of information technologies on the working lives of academics (see, for example, Bennett and Lockyer 2004; McShane 2004; Applebee et al. 2005; McShane 2006; Snyder, Marginson, and Lewis 2007), little is known about the effect of these technologies on the work and identities of professional staff. Moreover, while research has been completed on the contributions of professional staff to research activities in universities, both in Australia and the UK (Allen-Collinson 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009; Sebalj and Holbrook 2006, 2009), there has been little research into the contributions of professional staff to learning and teaching. Drawing on findings from a case study situated in one Australian university, this paper outlines changes in Australian higher education and discusses the changing roles of professional staff in Australian universities, in the context of changing technology for learning and teaching. Four illustrative examples are provided: the IT support officer, the senior disability services officer, the information services librarian and the educational designer. With a particular focus on technology that supports learning and student outcomes, it is argued that changes in the work of professional staff are associated with new forms of professional identities. Using the framework of bounded, cross-boundary, unbounded and blended professionals (Whitchurch 2008a, 2009), this paper contends that even staff who would traditionally be considered bounded are moving towards the third space (Whitchurch 2008b). And while Whitchurch (2008a) developed this framework for professional staff at management levels, this study extends the framework to more junior roles, and therefore supports Whitchurch's (2008b, 377) contention that this is `indicative of future trends in professional identities.
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