18 January 2012
The Impact conundrum concerns how it might be measured. How does one quantify impact?
Impact can have two distinct effects; one concerning input impact and the other output impact.
The first relates to how the ‘shock of the new affects’ the changes of behaviour and the speed at which change occurs in behaviour.
The second is the improvement in outcomes set against the degree of turbulence caused in both breadth and length as a result. A positive response on either is all that is required for an overall positive impact.
Graphically it would appear as shown above in a formula
Impact assesses the striking force between physical objects which should cause an equal and opposite reaction, yet in e-learning terms, ‘technology in action’ in this sense is metaphysical and therefore beyond a physical laws and measurement. Capturing a sense of how a teacher feels (excited, challenged, enthralled, bored, disappointed) becomes the language of impact. Impact is measured by the emotive responses recorded by those affected. That language is based on the experience summed up in the rate and profundity of change against the benefits felt and the degree of turbulence caused in getting through the change. Attitude itself is a critical factor in the degree of take up and success engendered.
It is possible that we have been deceived, in the past, in our search for the impact of technology, expecting it to be physically manifested and overt in everything teachers do. It could be that successful impact is evidenced by the opposite; technology use being one element in many artfully constructed student-centred learning experiences that are part of everyday practice such that the technology is not really seen nor acknowledged, simply being used when deemed appropriate for learning as planned. This appears to be the case with the use of Moodle VLEs to pick one example.
Perhaps only new or troublesome or unsatisfactory technologies with little immediate application to practice remain on the surface and open to view, and thus to questioning through the turbulence they cause to the smooth running of the curriculum? The greatest impact of technology actually occurs where its use is not seen, nor recognised and only emerges through prompts that promote reflection on practice. The value of technology is not in the way it alters the nature of education but alters its delivery and the structure of our working day.
Perhaps a better test to frame impact is to consider how teachers and support staff might work without the support of technology assess how long the College would remain open if technology were removed.