Review of ‘What is a Learning Technologist?’ by David Hopkins.


David Hopkins new short book entitled ‘What is a Learning Technologist’ caught my eye because it’s a question that I’ve asked myself many times. In 2010 after 20 years working as a college lecturer and then lecturer in Higher Education I made the leap over to the ‘dark side’ and became a Learning Technologist at Regent’s University in London. Regent’s is a new University and didn’t previously have anyone doing my role and to be honest they didn’t really know what they wanted me to do. I was lucky and had a manager who had enough confidence in me to let me just get on with things and define my own agenda. My role is still evolving and changing all the time.

The book consists of 12 short chapters that were originally written as blog posts, where the first post appeared in August 2009 and the last in November 2013. David starts with some institutional definitions but then the opening chapters really give a flavour of the diversity of the tasks performed by learning Technologists; championing new learning technology, delivering staff training, one to one support etc. It’s clear from these chapters that the role and duties and even the job titles of learning technologists varies in different institutions.

Another theme that runs through the book is the author’s own professional development. There are chapters on completing and recording the evidence of a ePortfolio on a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, the Certified Member of ALT (CMALT) and the early stages of a MSc in Learning Innovation at the University of Leicester. David provides some really useful advice to anyone thinking of completing these qualifications.

Because the book has evolved out of the blog the author has included many of the comments left at the end of the blog posts. So there are various comments from other Learning Technologists working at different universities. In fact, David also includes a post from another blog by Sarah Horrigan describing the key areas that are required to do the role effectively. This is a real strength of the book as their posts and knowledge add a different dimension to the discussion.

The transition form ‘blog to book’ also gives us an insight into the future. Ideas are not always fully formulated in a blog post but they may then be adapted and recast into something more ‘polished’ at a later date and in this case presented as a digital book that can be downloaded from Amazon. Could this be the future of publishing? We shall see…

A short book like this cannot cover everything in detail and there are some aspects of my job there are not covered. A relatively important part of my role is coordinate small scale projects and whilst I have done some project management training this is a role most learning technologists have to perform at some stage. Also the evaluation of these projects or other aspects of what we do is also another important area worth thinking about.

Overall I enjoyed reading this book. I would even go so far to say it should be essential reading for all Learning Technologists….it will get you thinking and questioning what you do – which is no bad thing!

You can download the book from Amazon here (for only £0.77): http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Learning-Technologist-David-Hopkins-ebook/dp/B00D49E8FC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389617225&sr=8-1&keywords=what+is+a+learning+technologist%3F

David’s blog: http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/

And you can contact him on Twitter at @hopkinsdavid