Yesterday, we began thinking about how to select the right technology for your teaching practice. In today’s post, we’ll explore some of the other factors you will need to consider when applying TEL to your course. We offer a lot of ideas for discussion in this post – please feel free to respond to those which are most relevant or interesting to you in the comments.
Your discipline or professional context
The profession into which your students are being inducted will have an important effect on the use of technology in your course – to what extent does this profession expect digital competence in its graduates? In what ways might students be expected to use technology as part of their profession? The other key factor is accreditation bodies and the requirements they impose on course design. Does this impact your course? Do accreditation bodies mandate face-to-face exams, or put conditions on digital learning and assessment?
What implications would this have for the use of digital technology in assessment and learning? Do you and your colleagues face this situation in your context?
Policies and institutional requirements for teaching and learning
Universities in Australia now usually provide a learning management system (LMS) such as Moodle, Blackboard or Canvas, along with other platforms such as Echo360 Active Learning Platform (ALP) for lecture recordings and Turnitin for assignment submission. The IT implications of managing such platforms are quite complex, with maintenance and the use of a range of plug-ins often being resource intensive. Universities are also legally required to keep records of student participation, and to make sure these records, and all IT systems, have the necessary privacy and security protections. This means that universities often tend to be conservative in their use of technology for learning, and have policy regimes which seem inflexible.
There is usually also a range of policies that impact how teaching and learning is conducted and what systems can be used. For our participants at ANU, there are a few relevant policies you might need to consider, including the Code of Practice for Teaching and Learning and the Student Coursework Assessment Policy.
What are the technology and policy implications for your institution? How familiar are you with the policies and processes at your own institution? How might these policies or platforms impact your use of TEL, or what platforms you are able to use?
Institutional approach to teaching and learning
Most universities have a publicly available vision and strategy for teaching and learning in their institutions, setting out aspirational goals and strategies to meet them. This might include encouraging and resourcing academics to take a specific approach to teaching, such as constructivist, collaborative and inquiry-based learning with authentic assessment.
How does your institution compare with others in articulating a vision for teaching and learning, and how TEL can help? Does the institution have policies or strategies relating to blended and online learning that require the use of certain technology and pedagogical approaches?
The characteristics of your students
Each university, course, and program will have its own student characteristics, and the technologies used need to be appropriate. Consider the level and type of program you are teaching into, as a first-year undergraduate course, a Graduate Diploma, and a higher degree research (HDR) course will all have different requirements. Student cohorts are diverse in a range of ways, including:
- Students from low socio-economic backgrounds
- Regional and remote students
- International students new to Australian higher education contexts
- Indigenous students
- Mature aged students balancing full time work and family with study
- School-leavers new to university
- Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- Students with accessibility concerns
Inclusive education is a key part of the ANU values (see ANU Strategic Plan 2018-2021), and technology can provide new opportunities for some students, or increase the barriers to education – sometimes both simultaneously. Please useful links below for Universal Design and inclusive practices.
What are the characteristics of the student cohorts for whom you are responsible? Do you have any particularly disadvantaged groups in your course participants? What steps do you take to ensure your courses are inclusive and accessible to a diverse range of people?
The use of external tools for learning
We use the term “external” in this context as platforms and apps that are external to the institution and not used as part of the LMS. There are innumerable options for teachers, including blogs, social networking platforms, chat forums and wikis, and these were embraced by many educators to encourage forms of constructivist learning such as student collaboration, student constructed learning, self-directed learning and “community of inquiry” learning.
It is important to note that institutional rules and policies sometimes discourage or forbid the use of external tools for teaching and learning, due to the need to protect the privacy of students, and for security reasons. Yet academics tend to find their way around such restrictions where they feel it a particular app or tool is important for their students’ learning.
Another whole suite of tools is available via mobile devices and mobile apps. The use of such mobile tools for learning can, again, be impacted by institutional rules, yet there are academics who are leaders in this area of teaching and learning. Please see some useful links below on matching digital tools to learning, and examples of web 2.0 tools.
Have you used any of digital tools that would come within the range that are known as web 2.0 tools or mobile tools for learning? Which ones, and what were they used for? How useful were they? Are there any new tools you have learned about in perusing the resources linked below, that you think might be useful? How do you deal with the fact that they are external to your institution (in terms of privacy, security and institutional IT protocols)?
Activity 6: Putting it all together
What mix of technology are you currently using to enhance or support your students’ learning? Having taken part into today’s blog, do you have further ideas, or any concerns? Feel free to share your thoughts.
Technology-Enhanced Learning in Higher Education Certificate
Go here to learn more on getting recognised for your participation in coffee courses.
- Selecting technologies – UNSW
- 25 best Web 2.0 applications in 2017 – Larry Ferlazzo
- Universal design for learning coffee course
- Opportunity through online learning – Cathy Stone