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Achieving flexibility? The rhetoric and reality of the role of learning technologies in UK higher education

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ascilite 2014 presentation on findings from the UCISA 2014 Technology Enhanced Learning Survey. The presentation explores the role of learning technologies in supporting flexibility in higher education learning and teaching.

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Achieving flexibility? The rhetoric and reality of the role of learning technologies in UK higher education

  1. 1. ascilite2014 November 23 - 26 2014 Achieving flexibility? The rhetoric and reality of the role of learning technologies in UK higher education Martin Jenkins Coventry University, UK Richard Walker University of York, UK Julie Voce Imperial College London, UK
  2. 2. Flexibility The drive toward greater flexibility is influenced by: – the marketisation of higher education; – the emergence of students-as-consumers, exerting wishes for new kinds of educational provision; – the potential of new digital technologies; and – the apparent potential (that new educational environments are opening) for widening higher education at reduced unit costs. [our emphasis] Barnett (2014: 8)
  3. 3. Barnett’s interpretation of flexibility  Sector flexibility: – enabling flexible entry points for students to higher education study programmes  Institutional flexibility: – having institutional responsiveness to student expectations and needs  Pedagogical flexibility: – having flexibility within teaching and learning processes, including allowing academic staff control over teaching methods and the latitude to respond to different circumstances  Learner flexibility: – student choice within their learning experience
  4. 4. What does the data say?  The Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA) has surveyed UK higher education institutions on the use of learning technology tools since 2001 http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/tel
  5. 5. Institutional flexibility  Investment has focused on: – E-assessment tools – Plagiarism detection – VLE/LMS platforms – Lecture capture systems  Infrastructure development  Management & control of learning (mainstreaming)
  6. 6. 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 2003 2005 2008 2010 2012 2014 A Bi Bii Biii C Pedagogical flexibility Still an emphasis, though slowly reducing, on transmissive teaching methods Category A – web supplemented Category Bi – web dependent, content Category Bii – web dependent, communication Category Biii – web dependent, content and communication Category E – fully online (categories adapted from Bell et al., 2002)
  7. 7. Learner flexibility  Student experience – Service oriented provision – Expectations focused on connectivity and access to resources (Jisc, 2014) – Instant and on-demand access to learning (Bone, 2013)
  8. 8. Achieving flexibility?  Institutional clarity in use of technology-enhanced learning – But potential conflicts in flexibility  Beware of disempowering academic staff – broadening the range of technologies but with enterprise-wide goals in mind - not necessarily encouraging pedagogic flexibility?
  9. 9. Case study: Coventry  Institutional priorities – Student experience – Digital literacy  Investment in TEL – E-assessment – Plagiarism detection  Lack of awareness of TEL  Recognised need for pedagogic innovation  Disruptive Media Learning Lab
  10. 10. Case study: York  Institutional priorities - Enhancement of student learning experience and delivery of services  Investment in TEL - Investment in electronic management of assessment; lecture capture; BYOD provision  Challenges – short-term pressures (National Student Survey) & quick fixes: assessment and feedback – longer-term embedding of e-learning vision within curriculum review and academic practice (staff development and digital literacies)
  11. 11. Sector challenges  Consumerism and the mainstreaming of student services through learning technologies – speed of change / diversity of systems and focus of change in TEL development  Can this be compatible with pedagogic flexibility and the academic freedom to experiment and ‘freedom to fail’? (Price, 2013)
  12. 12. Questions? Richard Walker University of York, UK Martin Jenkins Coventry University, UK Julie Voce Imperial College London, UK
  13. 13. Barnett, R. (2014). Conditions of flexibility: securing a more responsive higher education system, The Higher Education Academy: York. Bell, M., Bush, D., Nicholson, P, O’Brien, D., & Tran, T. (2002). Universities online: A survey of online education and services in Australia. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training. Bone, E. (2013). Improving learning experiences: Student attitudes towards the use of technology. NUS research study sponsored by Desire2Learn. Insights Roadshow, 16 December 2013. Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. References
  14. 14. Jisc (2014). Digital student project: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/research/projects/digital-student Price, D. (2013). Open: how we'll work, live and learn in the future. Crux Publishing References

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