The chamber of fear: a role playing approach to the recruitment and selection of learning technologists

Barry, W. and Starr, S. (2015) The chamber of fear: a role playing approach to the recruitment and selection of learning technologists. In: Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference 2015: Shaping the Future of Learning Together, 8th-10th September, 2015, University of Manchester.

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Learning technologists have long been at the heart of emergent pedagogical approaches using technology, working in close partnership with students and staff. Organisations, therefore, need to recruit individuals who are able to offer a diverse set of skills and qualities to facilitate such activities and broker partnerships with programme teams to enhance learning.

The recruitment of learning technologists at the presenters’ UK-based University has traditionally consisted of a panel interview with senior managers and HR representatives, together with a short presentation to a team of learning technologists. Recognising that the role of the learning technologist tends to be a complex and problematic one (Browne & Beetham, 2010; Hopkins, 2015); it was felt that the short presentation element did not demonstrably convey those skills and qualities that were necessary in fulfilling the role of a learning technologist in a Higher Education Institution (HEI).

In February 2012, the presenters began to develop a role-playing scenario that would “augment [the] assessment process” (Thornton III & Mueller-Hanson, 2004:12), so that the candidate would be able to demonstrate their capacity in undertaking a key element of the learning technologist’s role; i.e. working in partnership with academic staff, advising on and supporting their development of learning technologies as an enabler to student learning and participation.

This candidate-led role-play scenario begins with a brief given to the candidate, in advance, informing the candidate that a ‘meeting’ has been arranged between the candidate and the programme team from a fictitious programme (BA in Heritage Studies). In this ‘meeting’, the candidate is required to give a brief five minute presentation around the topic of blended learning. This is followed with the candidate facilitating an extensive twenty-five minute discussion and consultation to the programme team on how a number of blended learning practices and technological solutions could address some of the challenges currently facing the programme.

The programme team roles were acted out by members of the learning technology team and the given scenario was situated within an authentic collegiate culture and context. This approach for recruiting learning technologists has currently been performed on three separate occasions.

This short presentation will report on the challenges and opportunities of adopting a role-playing approach in the recruitment and selection of learning technologists. It will outline a method for identifying potential candidates who are able to shape the future of learning and influence the development of learning technologies in partnership with students and staff.

Delegates will come away with practical ideas and advice on how to make the recruitment and selection process of learning technologists within their own institutional contexts more authentic and relevant.


Browne, T. & Beetham, H. (2010). The positioning of educational technologists in enhancing the student experience. Project Report. Oxford, England: Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and The Higher Education Academy (HEA). Available at: [Accessed 6.2.2015].

Hopkins, D. (Ed.). (2015). The Really Useful #EdTechBook. London, England: CreateSpace.

Thornton III, G.C. & Mueller-Hanson, R.A. (2004). Developing Organizational Simulations: A Guide for Practitioners and Students. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5549-5549.5 Personnel management. Employment management
L Education > LA History of education > LA0173 Higher education
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Mr Wayne Barry
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2015 11:14
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2015 11:14

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00