Concrete Lounge

Concrete bench @ USQ

The Concrete Lounge is a nascent analogy intended to help explain the need for more people to take on the role of Digital Renovator. Especially in the context of university educational technology.

The argument being that universities need to focus more on enabling digital renovators than just trying to create perfect systems (that end up as concrete lounges)

Imagine you've just moved into a furnished rental house. It's your space, but you're stuck with the existing furniture.

To your surprise, when you enter the lounge room you discover that there is a concrete lounge set up in the prime position.

Assuming that it's impossible to remove, what do you do?

Of course, you add some cushions, a mattress and just about anything else you can think of that will make the concrete lounge somewhat fit for the purpose of lounging

You modify, adapt, engage in bricolage and generally renovate the environment that you are given to suit the task.

The problem is that when it comes to learning and teaching, the environment provided by most universities (for a huge variety of tasks) is no more fit for purpose than a concrete lounge.

What's even worse is that there is essentially no capacity to modify, adapt, engage in bricolage and generally renovate the environment.

The inability to renovate arises from two sources

  1. Low digital fluency.

    The 2014 Horizon report(s) web page identify the low digital fluency of staff as the number 1 “significant challenge impeding higher education technology adoption”.

    Perhaps just a bit of the problem is because the technology to be adopted is a concrete lounge.

    But perhaps the low digital fluency makes renovation a step too far.

  2. A mindset that has technology SET in concrete.

    That's the argument in this paper web page . The mindset underpinning university education technology has SET (acronym from the paper) the technology in concrete. i.e. it can't be changed.

Hence raising the question, are universities ready for digitally fluent staff?