Thursday, 20 February 2014

Flexible #pedagogies for Technology Enhanced Learning

A new report is published from UK Higher Ed Academy, this one focusing on flexible pedagogies for Technology Enhanced Learning. You can download the 23 page report written by Neil Gordon from the University of Hull, UK here. The report takes a look at potential pedagogical changes needed with the changing online learning landscape (ranging from classroom ICT based courses, to blended to fully online). The report focuses on how e-learning, also known as technology-enhanced-learning, may support flexible pedagogies, and so encompasses a range of topics where technology can enable new choices for learners. Flexible learning focuses on giving students choice in the pace, place and mode of their learning, and all three aspects can be assisted and promoted through appropriate pedagogical practice, practice that can itself be supported and enhanced through e-learning. e-Learning is concerned with using computer technologies to support learning, whether that learning is local (on campus) or remote (at home or in the workplace).

The conclusion section provided some interesting future research actions:

In terms of the three main stakeholders, future short-to-medium-term implications include: 
  • learners: taking more responsibility for their own learning, choosing and taking advantage of technologies that can improve their own learning, with advice from their teachers; 
  • teachers: identifying opportunities for flexibility in delivery, with a growing emphasis on managing the learning process rather than being the primary provider of learning material; 
  • institutions: allowing for flexible systems, where students can enrol and select learning. The role of institutions becomes that of providing systems and frameworks, as well as providing the quality checks to award credits and degrees. 
There are a number of developments in virtual learning environments and other learning technologies that could aid flexibility, beyond the typical features of current VLEs. The key ones that follow from suggestions in this report are: 
  • support for personalised learning pathways within a VLE, so that learning material can be organised into structures that allow the learner to choose their own pathway. Dependencies between material would be identified, with clauses used to potentially control some of the learners’ choices and access; 
  • flexi-level and adaptive assessment support in VLE-based assessment tools or available via standardised interfaces, such as the LTI standards; 
  • development of learning analytics to support flexible access, eg engagement data to replace attendance data; 
  • further research into the effectiveness of online, distance and flexible approaches compared with more traditional ones, with a particular focus on the retention and success data when compared with traditional approaches. The growth of MOOCs and blended learning offer opportunities to develop further work addressing questions such as to what extent engagement and attendance correlate, and whether online provision of resources encourages squirrel-like (collect and store) behaviours, rather than accessing and engaging. Existing VLEs and the new MOOC platforms offer the potential for large data sets of student learning behaviours to enable informed decisions on implementing new learning approaches. 

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