Last week I attended the Kingston University / St Georges, University of London’s joint Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences annual Learning and Teaching conference. The focus of the event was ‘Enhancing the Educational Experience through Technology’ and I gave a a presentation (see below) on what what I saw as current issues in technology enhanced learning (TEL) and attempted to identify some possible trends.
I started by talking about changing terminologies and how I perceive sometimes that debates in this area, no matter how valid, can leave the wider community cold and sometimes confused. I think that this wider feeling was amplified by the fact that the introduction of learning technologies on institutional scales were sometimes linked to many agendas, and that TEL was never going to be the only approach to addressing perceived weaknesses in underlying pedagogic practices / enhancing student learning. Later in the presentation I moved on to staff and student digital literacies referring to the MoRSE project, Beetham et. al.’s (2009) LLiDA Project report ‘Thriving in the 21st Century‘ and David White’s accessible video discussing his concept of digital visitors and residents. Based on comments made later through the day I think this concept of visitors and residents resonated with the audience and in a way was seen to be reassuring. I moved onto the theme of staff concerns and tried to address issues of technology confidence, perceived student resistance to change, and the changing role of the academic, and in the case of the latter it was useful to be able to quote the JISC resource ‘Effective Practice in a Digital Age (2009):
“Rather than replacing the teacher, technology has in many ways increased the focus on pedagogic skills. The art of the practitioner as instigator, designer and animateur remains key to the process of learning”
The issue of staff confidence with technologies was a theme that reoccurred later in the day in both informal discussion and as part of Elaine Gaskell-Mew’s presentation entitled “Why don’t I have these skills? – a reflective exploration of e-learning and teaching skills development amongst teaching staff”. Comments including ‘many staff not willing to admit their concerns’, ’students exceed my technology expertise’, threat, value etc. This underlines the importance of addressing both staff and student digital literacies, but is also why I followed up with a slide entitled ‘Led by Learning’ to make 3 points: don’t worry about the terminology; there is no one ‘right’ way with TEL and; remain grounded in learning and teaching practice – start with the learning not the technology. This was developed into a brief overview of support available institutionally along with raising awareness of freely available pedagogic design / planning tools, which even if not used formally can be a good source of ideas, with particular reference given to the Learning Design Support Environment and the slightly older but still useful Phoebe tool.
In terms of future trends the focus was on Mobile and OER developments, and although already on us, I feel we are a long way from realising their true impact. As one example of a specific technology I gave brief mention to Augmented Reality as an application that has bumped around for a couple of years with the advent of smartphones but with a sense that this technology is starting to enter into the mainstream (e.g. see The Guardian’s use of Blippar.com last week – 16/4/2012). It is perhaps a step behind QR code technology in application to learning & teaching, though we have certainly looked at its role in supporting fieldwork.
Other resources mentioned in the presentation:
XPert OER search tool
Folksemantic OER search tool