COVID-19 – CURSE OR BLESSING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS? AN AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC APPROACH TO THE NEW NORMAL OF EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY EXPERTS
1 Georg-August-University Göttingen (GERMANY)
2 Dresden, University of Technology (GERMANY)
3 Goethe University Frankfurt (GERMANY)
4 Hamburg, University of Technology (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Currently, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for Higher Education institutions (HEI) are being widely discussed. Beyond general assessments of the pandemic’s impact, higher education research focuses mainly on the implications for lecturers and students  . From one day to the next, formal learning and teaching settings had to be transferred online. One may think that this is a blessing for all those who had been working on anchoring information and communication technology (ICT) in university teaching over the last few decades. But: Is it the case? How has COVID-19 changed the everyday working routines of professionals in HEI, especially in Educational Technology?
Our paper will approach this question based on autoethnographic data  , taken from a Germany-wide research project named AEDiL.Following the ethnographic research paradigm, autoethnography is grounded in self-observations and seeks to grasp individual constructions of meaning . Such data often culminates in autoethnographic stories, which constitute the database of the research that we present in this paper.
We will present and discuss the analysis of three autoethnographic stories by educational technologists from three different German universities  . In these stories, they describe their everyday working practices as so-called digitalization experts during the pandemic. In this paper, we follow the written traces of their expertise and analyse their experiences and struggles. Struggles which include perceived changes in the professional field(s), professional identity, and disciplinary distinction, and most of all the perception of expertise in the field of educational technology.
As a result, two aspects in particular could be demonstrated: The Covid-19 context challenges traditional notions of expertise that are still deeply rooted in the context of HEI. This was (and is) caused by the increased use and related experiences with online teaching that shifted the knowledge gap between so-called experts in this field and the academic teaching staff. Such a development points to the emergence of a "new normal" of how expertise is being constructed in the field of educational technologists.
Using a qualitative approach, we seek to shed light on topics that other research approaches cannot easily grasp. We hope, thereby, to increase the awareness of insecurities in the professional life of Higher Education professionals which (in our opinion) is too often neglected.
Keywords: knowledge, expertise, experts, ICT, Covid-19-pandemic, autoethnographic stories, AEDiL.