MGMT 6860, Reflections

Considering the Impact of Work Design

Work Design is the “study, creation, and modification of the composition, content, structure, and environment within which jobs and roles are enacted… concerns who is doing the work, what is done at work, and the interrelationship of the different work elements, and the interplay of job and role enactment with the broader task, social, physical, and organizational context” (Morgeson & Humphrey, 2008, p. 47).

In thinking about the world of work – how often do you consider the design or composition of your work? Jobs are typically organized in similar positions with regards to work tasks performed or a set of activities to serve the organization. In thinking about job design, Morgeson and Humphrey (2008) identify this as the “content and structure of jobs that employees perform.” Those who research job design tend to review the tasks and activities performed on a regular basis, and also consider the team design and role requirements within teams.

Since a number of jobs are combined and collaborative, it might be more helpful to consider an Integrative Model of Work Design. Morgeson and Humphrey’s (2008) model will identify various work and worker characteristics – specifically those work attributes that includes task, social, and contextual sources.

1) Task Characteristics: autonomy, worker control, skill variety, task identity, task significance, feedback from the job, task variety, job complexity, information processes, specialization, problem solving. Worker characteristics include job knowledge, technical skills, self-management, cognitive ability, task experience, proactive personality, and needs for achievement

2) Social Characteristics: social support, feedback form others, interdependence,, interaction outside the organization, team experience, need for affiliation, and hardy personalities

3) Contextual Characteristics: physical demands, work conditions, ergonomics, equipment use, boundary spanning (interaction within the organization but outside one’s department/team), organizational support, workspace, virtuality of work (communication), consequence of facility, physical ability, propensity to trust, organizational experience

Future research considerations for work design could include:

  •  key theoretical perspectives on fit is the needs-supplies/demands-abilities duality
  • gravitational hypothesis: workers “gravitate” towards and stay in jobs that they are both capable of performing and fit with their individual differences
  • conceptualizing individual attributes at the team level takes an additive approach – studying team vs. individual composition models
  • role vs. team composition approach: how role holder characteristics impact performance rather than putting the focus only on individuals
  • understand the impact that learning  and knowledge-based organizations should consider for work design
  • influence of the following attributes: self-regulation, social-facilitation, workload sharing, convergence, etc
  • impact for informal work redesigns – job crafting – that emerges out of work experience and organizational change

Morgeson, F.P. & Humphrey, S.E. (2008). Job and team design: Toward a more integrative conceptualization of work design. In J. Martocchio (Ed.). Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management (Vol. 27, pp. 39-91). United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing.

PhD, Virtual Communities

Actor-Network Theory in Education

Give Me Some Theory... #LitReview

Actor-Network Theory has recently been referred to by Law (2007, p. 595) as  the ‘diaspora’ of

“tools sensibilities and methods of analysis that treat everything in the social and  natural worlds as a continuous generated effect of the webs of relations within which they are located. It assumes that nothing has reality or for outside the enactment of those relations.”

Further research in this theory helps scholars and researchers discover new approaches to a number of educational issues. In considering educational research, with regards to schools, universities/colleges, community agencies, corporate training organizations, and professional affiliations, ANT merges knowledge as situated, embodied and distributed.

Fenwick and Edward (2010) share how ANT challenges a number of assumptions that lie in educational conceptions of development, learning , agency, identity, knowledge and teaching. ANT identifies rich interconnections in both social and cognitive activity. As shared in the book, Neyland (2006, p. 45) has the ability to contribute to educational understanding of:

“mundane masses (the everyday and the humdrum that are frequently overlooked), assemblages (descriptions of things holding together), materiality (that which does or does not endure), heterogeneity (achieved diversity within assemblage), and flows/fluidity (movement without necessary stability).”

For those interested in reading the book in more detail, you will appreciate how Fenwick and Edward (2010) utilize ANT in education as a source of research practices, to consider:

  1. Concepts, approaches, and debates around ANT as a resource for educational research.
  2. Showcase studies in education that have employed ANT methods and comparing ANT approaches in other disciplines/fields.
  3. After ANT developments that challenges presumptions and limitations of ANT research.


Fenwick, T. & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Law, J. (2007). Making a mess with method, in W. Outhwaite & S.P. Turner (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of Social Science Methodology, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. pp. 595-606.

Neyland, D. (2006). Dismissed content and discontent: an analysis of the strategic aspects of actor-network theory, Science, Technology and Human Values, 31(1); 29-51.

EC&I831, Learning Community

At The Root of Connectivism

Connectivism is a pedagogy that I have latched onto for the realm of learning technologies. This is a new learning theory for the digital age, and is further defined by George Siemens as:

  • Knowledge as constellation of connections
  • Sense-making/way-finding
  • Network (social/technological) as assistive cognitive agent
  • Technology as externalization/extension

It’s not the tools that are relevant, but rather the connections made while learning.

Siemens made a guest appearance in the EC&I 831 course last week to discuss The Roots of Connectivism.

A few of the major points that I took away from George’s presentation include:

  • Learning is networked at 3 levels:
    • Conceptual-Cognitive: least developed; when ideas & concepts are combined together
    • Neural: biological; memories being formed as a sequence of connections (encoding in the brain)
    • Social-external: social network analysis, often completed by sociologist; external tools and resources to connect learning
  • Knowledge & learning as networked and emergent through:
    • Synchronicity – to understand how a student will learn is to understand & connect with their current knowledge & awareness
    • Amplification – participatory sense making & interaction with material creates learning at a deeper level
    • Resonance – why do students start to tune into learning a concept or new information? how do they connect with an association?
  • Educators need to understand connections at a very basic level to best learn how to influence connections for learning
    • What connections are?
    • How they form?
    • What attributes/structure they exhibit at formation?
    • What various formations mean?
George left the class with a few questions to ponder:
  • What are the implications for educators?
  • How do we “teach differently” in networks than we do in a classroom?
  • How should our priorities change in skill development?
  • As the field of networked learning grows, where do we turn for guidance direction?

Educators need to assess learning objectives to help students develop in the changing digital world. Instruction is not just about knowledge comprehension, but will shift to focus on acquisition of information and learner networks. “Teaching differently” will be instructional practice that encourages learners to think critically and engage in complex activities for deeper learning experiences. Learners will be challenged to connect meaning and knowledge that is currently known, to that of their shifting paradigm.

As networked learning continues to change educational environments, educators must empower their students to adapt and grow with the technologies . It will be up to the educators of today to remain current and connected to practitioners and  innovators in education who are leading the way. Whether it is following a stream of ideas on Twitter, reading the latest literature/publications, continuing professional development, taking an open-source course, or sharing ideas with online colleagues, educators who stay socially connected will provide engaged learning opportunities.

My quest to be a “Network Sherpa” for learners continues….

What are you doing to help your Networked Student connect to their learning today?

Connectivism video created by Wendy Drexler’s high school students inspired from George Siemens’ CCK08 Class.