Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (AUSTRIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 7908-7916
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
In the course of the development and implementation of new features and functionalities for learning management systems, emphasis usually is put on the technological and didactic aspects. However, successfully implementing new educational ideas is not a trivial task and needs to be approached strategically. To accomplish acceptance of ideas in an organization and to motivate the intended users to make use of specific features and designs, innovations need to become meaningful for them. With regard to the fact that social meaning is predominantly created and conveyed through communication, this paper argues that persuading users to accept innovations requires modes of communication that enable the addressees to make sense of the new ideas and “embed” them in their already existing repertoires. How new designs and features are labeled, framed, contextualized and situated in order to evoke viable interpretations for users, plays a crucial role in facilitating appropriation and acceptance of innovations by the different target groups.

In this line, the paper will present a number of communicational key questions/challenges that need to be tackled with regard to the framing of pedagogical and didactic innovations in e-learning:

1. Balancing precision and ambiguity
The denominations in the platform interface itself are an important resource to convey images and concepts. The highly concise and unequivocal approach that is characteristic for technical language on the one hand and the metaphor- and connotation-rich approach to language use in didactics and pedagogics on the other hand requires careful language design.

2. Addressing multiple groups of stakeholders
The numerous different stakeholders and the various contexts and disciplinary cultures, within which they are embedded, require a form of communication that is specific enough to transport the main ideas to make innovations meaningful for the addressees and at the same time general enough to allow the emergence of new ideas and to permit stakeholders to apply the main concepts to their own contexts without creating a “reverse Babel effect”.

3. Matching language and organizational culture
In order to achieve acceptance and understanding, the language of innovations needs to be “culture-sensitive” in a way that existing patterns of meaning and organizational vocabularies are not entirely ignored or even discarded. Translating new implementations into the language of a specific institution is even more important, if they are basically introduced from a context external to the institution (i.e. in the case of integration of new software packages which is usually regarded as a technological problem only).

4. Finding an acceptable level of “newness”
Striking the right balance between marketing the innovative potential of new ideas without disregarding previous solutions is a delicate matter. Communicating a “paradigm shift” can quickly be disenchanted as “new wine in old wineskins”, while overly cautious communication could lack the necessary impact to make the intended change last.

The final paper will not only explain these challenges in detail, but also suggest ways of overcoming them, by providing concrete examples. It aims to contribute to the vast literature on implementing educational change by highlighting the importance of careful language design during the development and implementation process.