Flexible Pedagogies: Technology-Enhanced Learning

In January 2014 the Higher Education Academy published a report entitled “Flexible Pedagogies: Technology-Enhanced Learning” from which I have extracted the following sections as an aide-memoire for my own CPD.

 

The Higher Education Academy logo

 

“Technology offers a number of opportunities and challenges for higher education, both enhancing existing provision and opening up new potential. The key consideration underlying this report is why and to what extent flexible pedagogies can be promoted and in what ways. In the context of e-learning the answer lies in the way technology naturally enables the provision and delivery of flexible learning and pedagogy. Flexible learning is concerned with the pace, place and mode of learning:

  • pace typically focuses on different delivery schedules, which may be part-time, accelerated or decelerated, either as complete programmes (for example a two-year Bachelor’s degree) or within a programme (so allowing students to work at an individual pace within broad overall deadlines);
  • place is concerned with the physical location, which may be work based or at home, on public transport while commuting, or abroad when travelling;
  • mode covers learning technologies, and blended learning or distance learning. For example, in the context of Technology Enhanced Learning, technology can clearly support flexible schedules, with the options to access online materials outside of prescriptive timetables enabling flexible pace; and work-based learning can be provided and supported via technology, thus offering flexible places of learning. In terms of the mode of learning, learning technologies provide new and flexible approaches to enable distance and blended learning through the wide range of ICT products and upcoming developments.” (HEA, 2014:4)

 

“We should also question whether technology offers anything new in terms of pedagogy and learning: there are clearly new opportunities with tools to find and use sources and data; there are new possibilities to interact with students at distant sites. However, the fundamental activities are not altered – learning can be considered as accessing concepts and ideas, assimilating these through practice and ultimately demonstrating mastery. What technology offers is scalability, flexibility and new ways of learning. In a large cohort each student normally gets the same lecture and the same assessment. With computer-supported and -mediated learning there are opportunities to offer flexibility of pace, place and mode; for example, pacing can be controlled by the student accessing material within a wider or more flexible window of availability than is normally viable; the place of learning – accessing lecture presentations, notes and resources – can be anywhere with Internet connections; progress can be monitored with individualised assessments.” (HEA, 2014:8)

 

An area that I am currently contemplating is “inclusivity” within assessment practice in higher education and I found this paragraph particularly interesting because as an assessor in the commercial world I have to offer a range of assessment methods:

 

Assessment choice

Another potential for flexible assessment – perhaps the most flexible approach – is to allow students to choose how they are assessed; for example offer them the choice of selecting from a set of assessment options. In some cases options such as a presentation to a class or recording a short filmed presentation on a piece of research could be considered as equivalent, provided the learning outcomes were couched in suitable language. Other options are computer-based tests and assessments, and human-managed assessment. Thus flexibility here requires planning at the module design (or redesign) stage, with support potentially provided by the management system.” (HEA, 2014:12)

 

What is the role of lectures and lecturers?

“The role of lectures and lecturers is still open to debate. If lectures provide directed learning and lecturers provide role models and exemplars, then a blended approach should protect and encourage students to attend and benefit from the value added of the campus experience. If there is evidence that such experiences are not valuable from a learning perspective then the age of campus-based education could be ending, but the current evidence of the effectiveness of distance and massive online learning is mixed, so for the medium term the best approach has to be utilising technology to enhance the student learning experience by enabling greater flexibility.” (HEA, 2014:22)

 

 

I firmly believe that the role of a lecturer (when delivering a lecture) is to inspire, engage and raise the curiosity of the students who are present.  Therefore the delivery of the lecture cannot be merely a recital of the contents of the (potentially pre-published lecture slides) but is an opportunity for the students to engage and interact with an expert in that field who wants to share their passion for the subject.

So, in my view, we all need to find ways to make best use of the technology available to us to support us (and the students) to free up time so that we can engage in face-to-face, person-to-person contact to enable us to raise the curiosity of students.

 

What are your views?

How much do you value the face-to-face contact time with your lecturers/students?

 

 

 

References:

The Higher Education Academy (HEA), 2014 ‘Flexible Pedagogies: Technology-Enhanced Learning’
Available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/flexiblelearning/Flexiblepedagogies/tech_enhanced_learning/TEL_report.pdf
Accessed: 28 May 2014

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