Assembling the heterogeneous elements for digital learning

Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer – implications for learning and teaching

Peter Drucker

I came across this quote from Peter Drucker, who according to Wikipedia was known as the father of modern management

Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer

This resonates with me and my experiences within universities. In particular, in connection with trying to achieve anything with academics. Folk who generally take the concept of “volunteer” to the extreme.

It particular resonates with me as I increasingly see attempts made to apply project-based, plan-driven attempts to implement major change within universities. For example, we’ll improve learning and teaching at the university by having a large scale review, evaluated by a small panel of experts, who will develop an objective, that will be handed over to a project group, who will roll this out.

This ignores the importance of engaging academics and their tendency to be volunteers and, in particular, volunteers who don’t volunteer.

There will be no widespread, sustainable improvement in learning and teaching within a university unless the institution adopts approaches that encourage and support the academics in volunteering to engage in the process.

Require them to volunteer and they won’t.

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