Monday, July 8, 2013

Educause Learning Technology Leadership Institute 2013

I was fortunate enough to attend the Educause LTLI in June, 2013. I made a video discussing my experience, but there's also some text below that kind of sums it up if you'd rather read. 

We had to complete a “strengths finder” assessment before hand. I struggled to complete it because I was trying to decide between how I am in my personal life and how I am at work and I realized at the workshop that I could be more effective at work if I brought in who I am in my personal life a bit more. So I took a middle ground approach when I took it.

I thought the results were pretty accurate and interesting, but I thought, is this what a leader is like? Basically, I didn’t know what modern leadership was. The old school view is that leaders were born not made. But eventually, people started to think that leadership might be something that people could learn. A way to learn is to seek out relationships with people who use positive leadership strategies.

There are lots of leadership theories. Generally, leadership is more about influencing others behaviors than about decisiveness or assertiveness. 

Leaderful practice is a decentralized, shared activity that is performed collectively and collaboratively by a group of organizational members around a common goal or task. No one is waiting for one person to make a decision. There is no single way of leading. Leaders need to use multiple strategies based on the situation.

The processes of leaderful practice:
  • Define the goal
  • Work to organize the community towards that goal
  • Sustain commitment/cohesiveness among members
  • Be able to respond to change 

I can tell this changed the way I think because I see leadership everywhere now. We’re watching the series The Walking Dead and I just keep comparing the leadership strategies of the two main characters, because one is the compassionate leader and the other is the decisive, strategic leader. I think both strategies are necessary in a zombie situation :) 

4 C's of Leaderful Practice: concurrent, collaborative, collective, compassionate. 
I think the biggest thing I learned here is the importance of inclusiveness in leadership. Collaborate, praise, inform, include. Work with peoples’ strengths. 

Additional Take Home Thoughts:

  • Relationships are so important. Attend a conference with others from work. Participate in campus projects or work groups. Do more F2F.
  • Have a wish list in the back of my mind in case money becomes available on very short notice!
  • Group work can be an amazing experience. I had a fantastic group that brought in many perspectives. We had fun too. We used Google Docs because it was really the only option that allowed this extent of simultaneous editing on both the paper and presentation.
  • My ideas about presentation design are right on! Simple, broken down, lots of images/graphics. I got some additional resources and ideas about how to present and help others create effective presentations. I will integrate those into my presentation.
  • Yammer can be incredibly effective. We used it basically as a LMS.
  • Don’t overlook the library!
  • Educause knows how to do workshops. They used a lot of active learning techniques so we weren’t just passively listening all the time. Plus they had the best food of any conference I’ve ever been to. Wow.
  • A nice thing about this leadership conference is that it was specifically for learning technology staff so I got to know other people who do jobs similar to mine and all the examples were about learning technology so I was really interested. The faculty for the workshop mostly came from backgrounds like mine, so it is interesting to hear how they got to where they are.
  • I think anyone who works in learning technology should go to this, whether you intend/hope to be some kind of manager or supervisor soon or not because it gives you insight into how things work.

Advice from the faculty:

Understand the complexity of your institution and that decisions are (usually) made from above with a much wider perspective than we all know. Work really hard to see the bigger picture so you have an easier time understanding decisions that are made and how you can influence them.” Another faculty member added: “mentors can be in a good position to develop that wider perspective. This week might help you both in identifying the kind of mentors that would be helpful in your career development but also the kind of questions or issue you explore with them.”

“The flip side of that point is that to be an effective leader you have to an effective mentor to your own staff. As you take on more responsibilities, a growing leader is not coordinating more and more projects, but is helping to shape the work of teams associated with each project - and to shape those teams you mentor and guide your staff.”

“As long as you're framing your efforts in terms of aligning with your institution's and unit's mission, and creating value for your constituents (students, faculty, staff, alumni, employers, etc.) then don't be afraid to try things. Sometimes you need a proof of concept and a little traction before you can ask for resources. Don't forget it's sometimes easier and better to have to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

“My hope is that every student in this class recognizes that anyone can function in an effective leadership capacity independent of their org chart position. Remember that positive relationships and organizational networking are essential to making things happen on a college campus. When you see something that you believe needs to be done on your campus, don't be held back by waiting for someone else to step in - find a way to get traction from wherever you are.”

“My hope is that you feel empowered to take action as a leader when you return to your campuses. As my colleagues have also noted, being a leader can take place at any level of the organization. The best advice I can offer is to believe in yourself and your ideas, use your existing relationships and build new ones, and use your enthusiasm to influence change.” Related to this, I chatted with one of the coaches and she said “listen to your intuition.”

Technology Sidebar: I recorded the video using the YouTube record webcam feature ( It records your webcam directly into YouTube. I wanted to try this because a few faculty members reported problems with recording longer videos through it. It worked great for me; I recorded in two chunks because I spaced out at the end of the first one and couldn't pull it back together quickly enough! Then I did an additional 9 minute recording which it handled well. Then I used the YouTube video editor to combine the two videos and edit out the spacey part at the end of video 1. Lastly, I added some annotations onto the video, either to emphasize concepts or correct a few errors. However, I did have problems with the annotations. I was using Safari on my Mac and it simply wouldn't publish; nothing happened when I clicked Publish. It freaked me out because I spent a lot of time on the annotations, and then assumed I lost them. Thankfully, I went to the video on Firefox and was able to go into annotations where they had been saved, and the publish button worked!