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Disrupting teaching and learning with emerging technologies: lecturers’ experiences at a University of Technology in South Africa

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Paper presented at emerge2012.

Paper presented at emerge2012.

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  • Despite the widespread adoption of ICTs in higher education (HE), past research suggests that the impact of ICTs has fallen short of the rhetoric that it would produce radical change in learning and teaching (Kirkup & Kirkwood 2005; Zemsky & Massy 2004; Veletsianos 2010). 
  • However, recent literature suggests that emerging technologies are being allocated affordances, like openness, independence of institutional systems, student ownership, real-life connection and focus on collaboration, and come with the promise of radically transforming teaching and learning in education (Johnson 2012).
  • this study attempted to investigate whether emerging technologies had any impact on the teaching and learning practices of lecturers in a South African Higher Education institution. Questions interrogated in this study were: To investigate how lecturers used emerging technologies in relation to specific teaching and learning events.To explore the potential of these technologies to disrupt existing teaching and learning practices.
  • This paper is guided by Laurillard’s (2002a) conversational framework, which has been widely used and adapted in understanding academic research on ICTs for teaching and learning (Britain & Liber 2004; Conole et al. 2004; Czerniewicz & Brown 2005; Littlejohn & Pegler 2007). The conversational framework focuses on the importance of dialogue for effective academic learning (Laurillard 2002a).
  • The model provides a way of describing teaching and learning in terms of five key events: acquisition, discovery, dialogue, practice and creation. Laurillard stresses that these events are not phased, linear or progressive, and thus, none is better than the other. Effective and appropriate pedagogical practice should be achieved by offering students a wide variety of media forms balanced for their pedagogical value rather than for their novelty or entertainment factor (Czerniewicz & Brown 2005). Czerniewicz and Brown (2005) extended the framework to link specific learning technologies to individual learning events.
  • This study is part of a larger research project, which was carried out in 2010 at the institution to capture lecturers’ and students’ perceptions of their access and use of ICTs in teaching, learning and their social life. This study employed a mixed-method research design, combining quantitative survey data with qualitative interviews. questions), adapted from a survey tool developed and used by local researchers (Czerniewicz, Ravjee, & Mlitwa 2006; Brown & Czerniewicz 2010; Czerniewicz & Brown 2006).  Quantitative data collected was captured into the Statistical Programme for Social Sciences (SPSS) 18. Data was analysed descriptively by running frequencies and where applicable statistical tests, such as correlations and the Fisher Exact test, which provides exact conditional probabilities for chi-square statistics in small samples (Fisher 1954). This study uses Laurillard’s conversational framework as a conceptual, empirical, analytical framework, analysing the data along four of Laurillard’s categories of learning events, which can be supported by ICTs: dialogue, discovery, practice and creation (Laurillard 2002a). The focus of this study is on learning events, which facilitate student-centred learning with technology. Example of uses of technology that help students to acquire knowledge. are for example the use of technology to present digital content in the classroom including MS PowerPoint. Since we do not define these activities as engaging students actively in the learning process, we will focus in this study on the latter four learning events as listed by Laurillard (2002a). 
  • Previous studies (Czerniewicz & Brown 2005; Kirkwood & Price 2005), showed that students and lecturers engaged in a limited range of technologies, focusing on established applications of ICT-based activities, such as producing word-processed essays or searching for information on the Internet. The findings of the study confirmed these results: out of 21 learning strategies listed in the survey, the three main learning strategies nearly all lecturers (more than 80%) engaged in were: communicating with their students through email, searching for information on the Internet, and producing word-processed essays. Three more learning strategies were being used by at least 70% of lecturers: conducting online research, producing posters or PowerPoint presentations and accessing online notes. The engagement with other learning strategies decreases rapidly.  The study also validates findings of previous research (Czerniewicz & Brown 2005; Kennedy, Dalgarno & Bennett 2008), that technologies, which allow students to collaborate, produce and publish materials online, are used by a relatively small proportions of lecturers and students.
  • The first research question of this study focused on the use of emerging technologies and the impact of these technologies on teaching and learning practices. Lecturers, who used a wide range of emerging technologies, were engaged more across all learning strategies than their colleagues, apart from promoting students’ access of lecture notes online and computer-based testing (both essential functionalities of the institutional Learning Management System). It is fascinating to note, for example, that lecturers who used high level of emerging technologies (five or more), engaged their students in more dialogical learning strategies, such as discussions, social networking, blogging and online instant messaging/chatting, than those who did not engage with emerging technologies. This group of lecturers used technology less for distribution of content, but significantly more for online collaboration, such as document sharing. They also engaged their students more in the creation of media content, such as multimedia websites or podcasts. They made less use of marked computer-based tutorials and assessment but promoted simulations and significantly more computer based gaming.
  • In trying to understand more fully the potentially disruptive nature of emerging technologies, we interviewed lecturers at the institution who were known to engage with emerging technologies, such as Facebook, Skype, Gmail, Twitter, Mxit (an instant messaging tool), and YouTube videos in their teaching. Data analysis was guided by Meyer’s (2010) qualities of technologies that might lead to disruptive teaching and learning practices.
  • Student centeredness
  • Community, opening up boundaries
  • Motivation, enthusiasm, self efficiency….
  • Findings confirm that the use of emerging technologies promotes student-centered learning, student engagement and active participation in the learning process (Junco et al. 2011), by allowing students to take control of many aspects of learning, including supporting and assessing their peers (Casey & Evans 2011; Williams et al. 2011). Furthermore, lecturers’ responses validate the potential of emerging technologies to provide themselves and their students with links to the wider academic and professional community. This facilitates collaboration and the notion of working both at university and work in favour of harnessing the lecturers’ and students’ collective intelligence (Johnson & Adams 2011). While lecturers and students can operate outside the institution’s control and support systems, they must be willing to bear the cost of their engagement, perhaps seek support externally. However, their individual agency and motivation to persevere and continuously adapt to the transient nature of these emerging technologies is strong.
  • This study set out to explore the potential of emerging technologies to disrupt existing teaching and learning practices. It draws on Laurillard’s conversational framework, her categorisation of technology uses by learning events (2002a) and Czerniewicz and Brown’s related learning strategies (2005).  This paper argues that the main transformative impact of emerging technologies on teaching and learning practices is the change in communication and interaction between students and lecturers. The possibility of sharing information informally, “eavesdropping” on conversations amongst all students in the class, has become invaluable for lecturers in their teaching and learning practices (Morkel 2011). Emerging technologies afford more informal, immediate, supportive conversation and feedback mechanisms blurring the boundaries between academic, professional and social contexts, hence extending learning beyond the classroom (Johnson & Adams 2011; Ivala & Gachago 2012). They facilitate self-organised and collaborative learning that is open, created and distributed largely by the learners themselves. This shifts ownership of learning processes from the lecturer to the students (Williams et al. 2011, p.43).  Future research is needed to explore in detail the institutional implications of engaging with emerging technologies. A deeper look at the interplay of lecturers’ individual agency and the affordances of emerging technologies to disrupt current teaching and learning practice is necessary.
  • Transcript

    • 1. +Disrupting teaching andlearning with emergingtechnologies: lecturers’experiences at aUniversity of Technologyin South Africa
    • 2. +Daniela Gachago, Eunice Ivala and Agnes ChigonaA collaboration between Fundani - Centre for HigherEducation Development and the School of Educationand Social Sciences at the Cape PeninsulaUniversity of Technologies (CPUT)
    • 3. + Impact of technologies in education falls short of rhetoric…  …when ICTs are adopted by majority of teaching staff, it is mostly used to support and improve existing practices, rather than to radically change them (Kirkup and Kirkwood 2005)  …use of technology predominantly to reproduce existing practice as opposed to transforming practice … (Velestianos 2011)  Rise of use of emerging technologies in Higher Education
    • 4. + Horizon 2012 report (Johnson et al. 2012)  Technologies to watch  Short term: mobile technologies, tablet computers  Mid-term: game based learning, learning analytics  Long-term: gesture-based computing, Internet of things
    • 5. + Characteristics of emerging technologies  Encourage openness and flexibility  Provide real-life connection / authentic audience  Focus on collaboration and sharing  Mobility / ubiquitous learning  Placing the control over teaching and learning process firmly in the hands of students and lecturers as opposed of the institution
    • 6. + Can they transform teaching and learning?
    • 7. + Research aims 1. To investigate how lecturers used emerging technologies in relation to specific teaching and learning events 2. To explore the potential of these technologies to disrupt existing teaching and learning practices
    • 8. +Conceptualframework
    • 9. Blogs, wikis, Facebook, Mxit, skype, Twitter, gmail….Czerniewicz & Brown 2005
    • 10. + Findings
    • 11. RQ1: How do lecturers use+ emerging technologies in relation to specific teaching and learning events Data collection method: survey tool, adapted from tool developed by Czerniewicz and Brown (2005) Analysis using SPSS, frequencies, statistical tests (Fisher Exact test)
    • 12. + Learning strategies ICT based learning strategies (n=80) 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% All users 10% 0%
    • 13. + Mapping use of ET and learning events… Emerging technologies used Category 5 or more High level user of ET 1-4 Low level user of ET 0 No use of ET
    • 14. + 100% 0% 10% 20% 40% 60% 70% 80% 90% 30% 50% Online search Email Word essays Online articles Poster/PPT Online notes Self tests CBTs Data analysis Sharing media eAssessment Databases Online collaboration Online discussions Social networks Simulations/ModellingMultiMedia Producation Blogs Podcasts CB games users / high level of ET Users Comparison learning strategies all All users High level of ET
    • 15. RQ2: What is the potential of+ these technologies to disrupt existing teaching and learning practices Five in depth interviews with lecturers who were identified as high users of emerging technologies in survey (Facebook, Skype, Gmail, Twitter, Mxit, YouTube videos)
    • 16. + 1. It should be student-centered, with learning put first, and flexible enough to accommodate different styles and interests of students. It should provide necessary support, but require that the student do the work. 2. It should be designed to offer options, motivate students, andDisruptive nature of provide connections to students’emerging technologies lives, jobs, and communities. 3. It should capitalize on theMeyer 2010 willingness of lecturers and students alike to experiment and fail, to improve, and to keep at problems until solutions are crafted.
    • 17. “…more self-directed learning...those who want tocan learn more than is necessary; it’s not boxedin, it’s not confined. We have outcomes but howthey get there, it can be easily navigated...” “Every second week the students are allowed to or invited to present their own topic and their own TED talk...and then usually chaos erupts because they choose controversial topics that are very close to their heart but not close to anybody else’s”
    • 18. + 1. It should be student-centered, with learning put first, and flexible enough to accommodate different styles and interests of students. It should provide necessary support, but require that the student do the work. 2. It should be designed to offer options, motivate students, andDisruptive nature of provide connections to students’emerging technologies lives, jobs, and communities. 3. It should capitalize on theMeyer 2010 willingness of lecturers and students alike to experiment and fail, to improve, and to keep at problems until solutions are crafted.
    • 19. + “It’s a way of doing life. It’s a network. It’s not doing computers. It’s not doing mobile learning. It’s just learning – it’s just life.” “Also continuing the learning beyond the classroom and beyond the studio...you know if you commit yourself to Architecture ... it doesn’t, you can never escape it, it never stops.” “Our students generally don’t have a wide exposure to life. Their life is you know it’s the townships...its MXit, its TV...its Generations, its Rhythm City and that’s it...they don’t read the newspapers...they don’t listen to the radio...they don’t read...listen to the news...and so part of my TED talks is to expand their horizons....they are usual visual creatures and they want to see what’s going on...”
    • 20. + 1. It should be student-centered, with learning put first, and flexible enough to accommodate different styles and interests of students. It should provide necessary support, but require that the student do the work. 2. It should be designed to offer options, motivate students, andDisruptive nature of provide connections to students’emerging technologies lives, jobs, and communities. 3. It should capitalize on theMeyer 2010 willingness of lecturers and students alike to experiment and fail, to improve, and to keep at problems until solutions are crafted.
    • 21. +“I mean Twitter...how long hadTwitter been out? What’s going tohappen at the end of the year? “We’ve never needed support...youThere is going to be another press the help button or youprogramme...so we can’t say we Google it!”have reached the end of it. We’venever. So there will be a newtechnology, it may be...I mean “It takes hours of preparation…you can askWhatsapp...all of a sudden they my husband, you know I used to have a lifeare all on Whatsapp...they actually but my job ate it…I spend hours andasked me the other day please can weekends at preparing lessons like this. ButI Whatsapp you? I said the thing is once I’ve used it now, that lessonno, no, no...I also got a life. But I I can use next year again…but then eachwill have to use Whatsapp as well. year there’s something new so then, IThat’s what they want to do...” change it…”
    • 22. + Discussion and conclusions
    • 23. + Emerging technologies…  Promote student-centered learning, student engagement and active participation in the learning process (Junco et al 2011)  Students take control over learning, including peer support and assessment (Casey &Evans 2011, Williams et al. 2011)  Linking students to wider academic and professional community, providing authentic audience  Facilitation of collaboration and expanding learning beyond classroom (Johnson & Adams 2011, Ivala & Gachago 2012)  Activation of individual agency, intrinsic motivation  Transient nature of technologies
    • 24. + Conclusions  Confirming previous findings we established that majority of lecturers use a very limited range of learning events  BUT: use of emerging technologies seem to broaden the range of learning events lecturers engage with…especially when it comes to dialogical and collaborative learning events  Evidence of disruptive nature of emerging technologies: focus on opening up boundaries, transferring control and responsibility towards students, providing exciting learning opportunities, enthusiasm!  Recognize champions who use ICTs creatively and widen application of technology in T&L  Create a space to engage in a discussion around the use of institutional and non-institutional technologies to advocate comprehensive of use of ICTs in teaching and learning
    • 25. + Thank you!  Any questions?  Contact:  Daniela Gachago at gachagod@cput.ac.za  Eunice Ivala ivalae@cput.ac.za  Agnes Chigona chigonaa@cput.ac.za  More information on blog www.edutechcput.wordpress.com  We would like to acknowledge the CPUT Riftal fund which funded this project and the NRF project on the use of Emerging Technologies in SA Higher Education for the knowledge shared and gained in this project
    • 26. + References Brown, C. & Czerniewicz, L., 2010. Debunking the “digital native”: beyond digital apartheid, towards digital democracy. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5), pp.357-369. Casey, G. & Evans, T., 2011. Designing for Learning  Online Social Networks as a : Classroom Environment. IRRODL, 12(7). Available at: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1011/2039 Czerniewicz, L. & Brown, C., 2006. The Virtual Mobius Strip: Access to and Use of ICTs in Higher Education in the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. Czerniewicz, L. & Brown, C., 2005. The uses of information and communication (ICT) in teaching and learning in South African higher education practices in the Western Cape. Perspectives in Education, 23(4), pp.1–18. Fisher, R.A., 1954. Statistical Methods for Research Workers 12th ed., Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. Ivala, E. & Gachago, D., (2012 in press). Social media for enhancing student engagement: The use of Facebook and blogs at a University of Technology. South African Journal for Higher Education (SAJHE), 26(1).
    • 27. +Johnson, L., & Brown, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report > 2012 Higher Education Edition. New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publications/horizon-report-2012- higher-ed-editionJohnson, L. & Adams, S., 2011. Technology Outlook UK Tertiary Education 2011-2016: An NMC Horizon Report Regional Analysis, Austin, Texas.Junco, R., Heiberger, G. & Loken, E., 2011. The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), pp.119-132. Available at: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387Laurillard, D., 2002a. Rethinking Teaching for the Knowledge Society. Educause Review, 37(1), pp.16-25.Laurillard, D., 2002b. Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies 2nd ed., London: Routledge.Meyer, K.E., 2010. The Role of Disruptive Technology in the Future of Higher Education. EDUCAUSE Quartely, 33(1). Available at: http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/EDUCAUSEQuarterlyMagazineVolum/Th eRoleofDisruptiveTechnologyi/199378.Williams, R., Karousou, R. & Mackness, J., 2011. Emergent Learning and Learning Ecologies in Web 2.0. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3).