Technology Enhanced Learning

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I’ve just come out of a staff workshop on Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) hosted in the College of Social Sciences. So many interesting issues were raised.

The three key drivers for TEL in my mind are technology, the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and students. Technology gives us new and growing opportunities to integrate the physical and virtual environments in highly creative ways, the TEF requires us to demonstrate how we deliver an excellent experience in terms of teaching, learning and support, and students are increasingly expecting innovative ways to utilise new social media and digital resources.

The challenge is there. How can we best respond?

1. First I think we need to imagine the future, and indeed this is the point of the Big Conversation. The relationship between the physical and virtual environments will change. I believe face to face interaction will continue to be an essential component of the student experience, but how that relates to the virtual experience will be interesting. At present most academics still see virtual resources being there to supplement the lecture and seminar. The future could well hold a situation where the classroom supports the virtual environment. How then in future do we use lectures and seminars, what will be they for?

2. Fortune favours the brave! We need to find ways of supporting and rewarding creativity and innovation. If TEF is the stick, then we need carrots too. Having imagined the future, we need to be brave in encouraging new forms of academic engagement. Too often we find ourselves being channelled into risk averse approaches. We constantly tell our students it’s ok to fail as the lessons we learn support the basis for future success. Let’s tell ourselves the same thing and create nimble processes and safe spaces in which academics can try out new ideas for teaching and assessment. If it fails, encourage them to try again. If they succeed, provide the rewards and spread the word. We will probably not be fit for the future if we carry on doing the same stuff we did in the past.

3. Engage, engage, engage. We constantly remind our students that they should take ownership of their own learning. So as we imagine the future and try out new things, students need to be involved in each and every step. After all the future is not something we shape in isolation.

The (not too distant) future in my mind then is a place where the physical teaching, learning and support environments interact in very different ways with the virtual environment, and where the format and purpose of lectures and seminars develops in a highly dynamic fashion in response to new technologies, pedagogical developments and student involvement.

In many ways I am describing examples of current good practice in evidence across the university. The difference I believe will be the pace and visibility of change. What in the past may have taken decades to evolve will take years, and what took years could take months. The future for me will be a place where things change, change constantly and change quickly.

3 thoughts on “Technology Enhanced Learning”

  1. So, if the future is a place where things ‘change – change constantly and change quickly’ how can we prepare ourselves and our students for that kind of world?

  2. Is the University willing to put hard investment into this area, to be at the front of the development curve, to properly understand the hardware and software infrastructure that will be required to deliver TEL robustly?

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