Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Visualising a Learning Technologist - a Self Portrait

I had an idea that, as part of the current module portfolio for the MEd in Learning and Teaching I'm studying, I'd create a self portrait. The module is about technology in L&T, so I chose to investigate the role of Learning Technologist (LT). A picture is worth a thousand words apparently, although looking at my word count, if it is I've gone over my limit! Anyway, the idea was to bring all the elements I could think of that relate to the role of LT in a multi-self portrait. It was also a chance to have a crack at some studio photography and a self portait.

To give the idea more scope, I threw open the question to the ALT mailing list. A good discussion ran and some really good ideas for visualisation came out. Some I tried to use, some I didn't have the time for, in fact some of my ideas I didn't have time for either. I had about a week to get things together, and that turned out to be way too little time to really do everything I had listed - next time I will give myself at least a month! I was prepared for the image to fail as well as work so it was as much about the process of creating the image, and what I could learn from doing it; the planning, the creative process and the technical. So I gave myself a weekend, set up what I had and spent a Saturday afternoon taking the shots, and the evening and following morning editing it together.

Technically, it was difficult to do this on my own. Setting up the shoot wasn't too bad, although I'd never tried such a big area in a studio before. The lighting took a while to get right and I did a lot of running from in front to behind the camera, and taking the shot of me holding the iPad was an exercise in spatial guesswork! However, the biggest issue was translating the ideas into a visualisation that made some sense. I had some (what I thought) were subtle ideas, but would they work?

The final image was not what I had in my mind, although that mental image was far from complete. I had problems conveying the details in the shots - the items on the desk that represented various aspects of the role are just too small to make sense of them at all, and my poses aren't creative enough in some aspects. One or two ideas had to be left out because it didn't work in the final image as well, but that's what editing is all about. All in all, excluding the ideas phase, it took about four hours to shoot and about six hours to edit together.

Although it didn't quite work as I thought, I don't think it is a total failure. The final image, I hope, conveys a sense of the multi-faceted role that most LT's have, and even if it doesn't, I hope it's an interesting enough self portrait.

Or "how many Learning Technologist's does it take to change a light bulb?"

(This was first posted on my personal work related blog, which has now merged in here. Original comments are still available there)


  1. I love the photo-shopping of Danny - good work

  2. Yes - me too - if only we could clone 7 Danny's like this!

  3. Great post..



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