Introduction to TEL

Day 5: What’s new and what’s next for TEL?

In our final day, we give you a snapshot of the current state of play for technology in higher education in Australia and around the world, as well as exciting and challenging things on the horizon.

question markActivity 1: A technology-enabled future?

Have a look at this article which explores trends in higher education and technology.

The Conversation:  Universities must prepare for a technology-enabled future

What is your initial response to reading this overview? How do you think the developments described will affect, or are affecting, your teaching (or, if you are in a support role, how will it affect how you support academics)?

Why are universities embracing technology for learning?

There are many significant factors and trends impacting the use of technology globally in higher education. Information about these trends globally can be found in a report from the OECD, and another from EADTU-EU 2017 Summit Conclusions

In Australia, these trends are reflected in a volume of articles published in 2017, “Visions for Australian Tertiary Education“, where the University of Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education set out to “offer provocative ideas for transforming Australian tertiary education,” grounding their articles in current issues and trends (French, Kelly and James, 2017, V).

This report observes that Australian higher education is highly internationalised, and is one of Australia’s major exports, with the advantage of proximity to growing Asian markets (French, Kelly and James, 2017, 2-6).  The challenges facing Australian higher education nearly all imply the continuing adoption of technology, and include such things as the needs of international students, pressures on funding, global competition, employment outcomes and more.

Some of the drivers for change in education identified by Ernst and Young in 2012 are still evident today:

Table showing drivers of change

(Ernst & Young, 2012, cited by Sharrock, in French, Kelly and James 2017, 28) 

“Provocative ideas” from the CSHE collection relevant to technology-enhanced learning include:

  • “50 shades of blended learning will be the new normal.” (Sharrock, 2017, p.   38)
  • The “unbundling” of the design, delivery, assessment and credentialing pathways,  microcredentialing, and MOOCs
  • Sophisticated combination of digital tools to enable authentic and secure assessment processes, enabling recognition of professional skill and knowledge, including soft skills and metacognitive skills. (Milligan & Kennedy, 2017, p. 49)
  • The concept of teaching as a design activity (Elliot & Lodge, 2017, p. 57) sees teachers as engaging in designing experiences for learners to maximise learning and engagement, ensuring that technology is seen as part of the elements of a design problem to be solved, rather than a separate entity.

Australian universities are still heavily campus-based, but….

Although the above report found that Australian campuses are largely still “campus-based”, rather than a big online presence (Sharrock, 2017, p. 30), there are many universities in Australia, particularly regional universities, which have embraced and continue to expand fully online learning.  This trend to put courses online is sure to continue in a globalised, competitive higher education context.

Here are some websites that have outlined these and other trends to be watching in 2018:

question mark Activity 2: How does this impact on you?

Are these trends evident to you in the work you are doing in teaching or supporting teaching and learning?  Are you noticing things changing due to globalisation and internationalisation of higher education? 

Some of the exciting developments in technology for blended and online learning

As TEL becomes increasingly prevalent, here are a few of the exciting areas to watch out for in the near future.

Immersive learning using virtual reality technology

Many discipline areas are seeing virtual reality (VR) as providing solutions to training students in areas like medicine.  For more about virtual learning, go to our previous coffee course that covered this topic in detail.   In a new development, virtual technology seems to be merging with gaming for education (gamification) to create effective virtual experiences for students, in a form that is  now known as serious gaming.

Here are some intriguing examples happening right here, right now in Australia:

Art and technology are becoming merged in a development that has potential to create profound learning experiences.  Read this exciting page from YaleNews, about how they are exploring this – A Maker Space Where Art and Technology Merge.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality is the use of mobile apps in the real environment, to facilitate learning and develop skills. Australian National University, University of Canberra and Macquarie University produced a report on a project they completed examining and experimenting the AR.

Other developments

There are many other exciting uses of technology in higher education, such as:

….but is it sustainable?

Looking outside these reports and examples, at the coalface, university administrators, academics and educational developers/designers also need to be cognizant of issues of sustainable practice and the provision of support.  Any new technology that is introduced must be sustainable into the future, for the institution.  This implies the support needs of users and also the costs.

question mark Activity 3: What is your TEL future?

How do you respond to these kinds of reports and examples of  new uses of technology in higher education?  Is there anything you would like to explore to create engaging learning experiences for your students?  Is this kind of technological development feasible and sustainable in your context? What would be the barriers to you realising your ideas?

What did you think of this course?

We’d love your feedback on how you found the material and facilitation in this course. You can give us anonymous feedback in a short survey and let us know what you thought and what other topics you are interested in. Click here to access the survey.


Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017) The Horizon Report 2017.

Greenfield, A., 2017, “Rise of the Machines:  who is “the internet of things” good for?” in The Guardian 6/6/2017

Munnerly, D., Bacon, M., Fitzgerald, R., Wilson, A., Hedberg, J., Steele, J. (2014), Augmented Reality:  Application in Higher Education, Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching, Sydney.

Mulcahey, R., 2015, A Game of Balance and Disguise: Examining Experiential Value and Game Attributes in Social Marketing M-Games, School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, Queensland University of Technology.

OECD, 2016, An OECD Horizon Scan of Megatrends and Technology Trends in the Context of Future Research Policy Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, Copenhagen

The Conversation:  Universities must prepare for a technology-enabled future

European Association for International Education Blog – The future of technology in higher education

39 thoughts on “Day 5: What’s new and what’s next for TEL?

  1. What is your initial response to reading this overview? How do you think the developments described will affect, or are affecting, your teaching (or, if you are in a support role, how will it affect how you support academics)?
    My initial response is that it’s sounding a bit scary! But, I’m not really sure that I buy into the idea that teaching face-to-face will really become obsolete. Although online courses often have forum sections where students can chat to each other and the teacher, I really think there is no substitute for the free-flow of ideas that can come out in a face-to-face classroom! And, I imagine it would be hard to quantify the loss of such ‘creativity’.

    How do you respond to these kinds of reports and examples of new uses of technology in higher education?
    I’m really not sure that a lot of them are helpful in the face of something that is likely to happen anyway. I feel that we are probably better off embracing these changes and trying to find ways to make them work to the best advantage of the student-teacher relationship. Throughout this course, it has been highlighted several times that TEL is a powerful approach as long as it is driven by the pedagogy and not the other way around. If we bear in mind that TEL can be used to enhance the learning experience of students, not to replace teachers or just for the sake of it, then I think we should be able to find a way forward that is positive. I hope so, in any case!

    1. Angela, do you really have a free-flow of ideas in a face-to-face classroom? Or do you have a few people who dominate the discussion and some too scared, or bored, to say anything, assuming they turn up at all?

      I am one of those who, as a student, tends to talk too much in face-to-face classroom. I also write too much in on-line forums, but it is easier to just skip to the next post. 😉

      I worry about the student who sits unnoticed at the back, fretting and failing. Unless you have a very systematic process, or a lot of good tutors, it is hard to spot these people. Online the analytics can spot them very easily. But then you have the problem of finding some way to help them.

      1. I think we shouldn’t assume that people who don’t interact, either face-to-face or online, are not engaged with subject content. The flow of ideas is an interesting thing. Even in these posts, we have little flow or exchange. I wonder why our cumbersome academic conferences haven’t been replaced by technologically mediated meetings. I think it’s something to do with immediacy, flow and the physical presence of people, don’t you? And the chance to go to Spain, of course:)

        1. Hi Susy, Tom and Angela

          Thanks for your interesting observations. Of course there is no real substitute for face to face spontaneity and flow of ideas. I guess the fact is that technology has enabled the expansion of what used to be known as “distance education” to give access to learning to many people who are for a range of reasons unable to participate face to face. And these two types of learning environment are different, but one is not really inferior to the other, just has different characteristics and strengths. So online asynchronous discussion forums do not replicate exactly the spontaneity of face to face exchanges, but they do allow time for people to consider their responses, and space for people who might not contribute to a face to face discussion to rehearse, then provide a response. And of course e-spaces and technology can nicely complement face to face learning. The answer is probably that there is a place for totally online, a blend of face to face and technology/online, and totally face to face. And the evidence is that the human teacher can never really be replaced. People can access endless information online but a teacher who inspires and guides is the lynch-pin in education as opposed to information.

  2. I think that the author of the Conversation article is fairly ignorant of education in the humanities! That ridiculous claim that “bricks and mortar” libraries are obsolete is pretty tired these days. Much of the reading material I use for my research and teaching is not digitised and it is unlikely that most of it ever will be, because it is too obscure. It does cost money to digitise material – it doesn’t digitise itself! Many institutions (libraries, museums etc.) do not have the resources for it. I worked in a cultural institution for a number of years which holds a vast amount of archival material, and there is no way there will ever be the resources to digitise it all. I’m sure many courses could be taught entirely online, but with the strong move in visual arts education towards object-based-learning (OBL) and the increasing awareness of the importance of experientiality in many areas of humanities research and education, I think it is unlikely that online learning can entirely replace face-to-face teaching in higher ed. Far better that they are used well to complement each other!

    There are some fantastic technological intitiatives out there which have lots of potential for augmenting teaching in my field. Google Arts and Culture provides amazing high-res images of works of art from many art museums around the world, which allows us to zoom in and see details in paintings that you would never be able to see in the museum in person. Tools like this have huge potential in the classroom, and there are so many developing all the time. But, once again, they really are optimal for complementing face-to-face teaching.

    I think I would really like to explore opportunities for students to collaborate through online resources such as blogs. This could augment discussion in class. We really learn best when we are trying to articulate our knowledge for others. I can’t see any specific barriers to this, except for students being unwilling to participate! Also, as Katie mentioned in a comment on lesson 4 (and at the coffee session today), a big problem is that these external resources can suddenly disappear or start charging for use, which would be very annoying in the middle of a semester!

    1. Christina, I don’t think “bricks and mortar” libraries are obsolete, but most of the books will likely be stored underground or off-site, as campus space is always at a premium. ANU has an underground archive in Canberra, UTS has a robotic one in Sydney and on a visit to UBC in Vancouver I stumbled on a whole underground library. But having material on paper is does severely limit access for students and staff who are not on campus, which I suggest should be most of them. It is inequitable to limit participation at university to the few people who can get to a campus.

      It is annoying when on-line resources disappear mid-course. I find the Internet Archive very useful to find documents which have been removed from the web. A longer term solution is to use open access materials and open source software. As an example, the Open Journal System (OJS) is free open source software which lets you publish an on-line academic journal. OJS has a LOCKSS interface, which allows any library in the world (or anyone else) take a copy of your journal and all its papers, in case the original is lost (LOCKSS: “Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe”).

      1. Hi Tom, thanks for the ideas about the Open Journal System. Open Education Resources is also something that certain people are passionate about and work hard to create and preserve in online environments. It is annoying when resources and useful websites or web gadgets get taken down all of a sudden. I wonder if there are protocols for preserving these items intact, in easily discoverable web archives – Tom, do you know if there are rules and protocols around this? What I am referring to is different to archiving of documents, I mean, is it possible to ensure that all sites with their contents and functions are also archived? For example, WikiSpaces has announced they are not providing their service any longer. It seems a pity when so many people are using Wikispaces for educational purposes. I guess that would require people to manage and maintain such sites though. I feel as if there should be some kind of protection built in to these types of sites, against sudden closure – maybe ensuring the site is taken over by an Open Education Resource team or something. Just brainstorming here, any ideas are welcome!

  3. Activity 1: A technology-enabled future, much like the present. 😉

    My initial response to Subhash Kak’s “Universities must prepare for a technology-enabled future” (The Conversation, January 9, 2018), is that it is very US-centric. The USA’s liberal arts colleges in particular have problems with demand for vocationally relevant education.

    None of this effects how I teach now, as I am teaching into professionally accredited STEM programs, aligned to job requirements and with high demand for graduates.

    I gave up presenting conventional lectures in 2008 and do most teaching online, with some flipped flat floor classroom tutoring.

    Low cost open online university courses have been running for decades. But it is taking a long time for the general community and academia to take it seriously. This reminds me of the Internet, which was available for a decade before it suddenly became mainstream.

  4. Activity 2: Impact.

    Surprisingly, many academics in the computing discipline are reluctant to use computer technology for teaching. I suspect this is because the only form of teaching they are familiar with is lecture based and translating that online does not work well.

    Computing is a global discipline and naturally lends itself to globalisation. As an example I developed a course for a non-university institution in Australia. They used Moodle and ANU used Moodle, so I was able easily port the course. One of my international students asked to run the course at their institution. They also use Moodle and were able to post the course and run it in their country with a few changes. This was made easier due to formal global professional computing qualifications standards. Also their state law recognizes Australia computing professional qualifications.

  5. Activity 3: TEL future

    I am deeply skeptical to claims of high results and low costs from “new” technology in higher education, such as Virtual Reality. Edtech doesn’t change education much, as the students are still the same. Ideally, students will have engaging learning experiences on real projects in the real world, not on a university campus. This presents challenges, particularly with international students, who have limits on what they can do, and where they can do it. Ideally, I would like to teach international students on-line part-time, while they are employed in a relevant job, in their own country.

    1. Hi Tom, I have been told by academics in some areas that it would simply not be possible to get the volume of undergrad students the real project work or workplace experience that would be required, which is why at least in the earlier stages of the course, VR or AR can be really useful. In those cases, teachers report better engagement and results from students than if they had relied on simply information or case studies.

  6. Thank you for the links to examples of virtual reality! I look forward to exploring ‘Inside Manus’ over the weekend! I would also like to give a plug to eTexts which do not take quite as much time, money and to create but are highly beneficial to students. eTexts can be downloaded to tablets and read offline like books but also have embedded images, audio and video and sometimes other interactive elements. This is very valuable for learning as students can see, listen and watch useful things with ease as they study from wherever they are. Here are links to some eTexts produced by the ANU:

    1. Hi Rowena,

      Thanks for reminding us about the ANU eTexts – you are right, these resources can be very useful and are comparatively easy to produce and share.

  7. Activity 1
    My response is that I have to admit that TEL is really becoming a trend and eventually it will become a common phenomenon in education. Technology will shape higher education in many different ways, not just how it is delivered as in the on-line courses, but all of the tools available are changing our perception of teaching and learning, indeed. The impact of technology in my discipline of teaching is not significant, yet. But I think it eventually will incorporate more elements into it’s traditional classroom in business.

  8. Activity 2
    It is quite obvious that students background is much more diversified than 20 years ago. Technology did play a critical role reaching the students who couldn’t access higher education in the old traditional system. Attending this workshop and the earlier one that uses Echo360 as an interactive learning tool has opened my mind of how technology might affect teaching and learning in many profound ways.
    Activity 3
    One of the most important takeaway from t his workshop is the determination to try out some of the interactive learning tools in my teaching. As it is discussed above, contents are easily, cheaply available from a lot of sources. Giving a traditional lecture and delivering content is not the future of teaching. Students really need a lecturer who facilitates the delivering of knowledge and inspires their passion for the discipline. A more interactive learning experience will largely enhance students ability develop their own agenda in the discipline. The automation, artificial intelligence mentioned has been covered by media for a while. It’s interesting that I read a list of future jobs that are subject to less risk of being replaced by robots. On top of the list is the higher education teacher (how lucky for us!). Although I’m quite doubtful of the validity of the list, I do believe that teaching cannot be replaced by any advanced technology. Maybe I’m wrong.

    1. Thanks Hua Deng,

      Many would agree with you that the teacher cannot be replaced fully by AI, only for certain easily automated functions like marking and tracking. See my comment above in relation to the value of teacher-facilitated education, versus access to information only.

  9. Hi
    I don’t find this article surprising – it seems to be the way of many sectors not just universities. I like the idea of teachers ‘designing’ learning experiences as it is a reminder that teaching should be an active, reflective process that constantly seeks to present learning environments, activities and content that is best suited to the needs of the learners.
    I worry for disciplines (such as my own!) which are based in hands-on learning and are not easily able to be scaled up, especially those without clear industry links (anything non-scientific). These disciplines may never have a large component that is able to be taught via technology, and due to their lack of obvious financial returns via industrial research patronage are at risk of being increasingly seen as expensive indulgences.
    Its a concern that many universities look to TEL as a way to save money – to increase class size, course sizes, enrollments without having to add infrastructure or resources. This is a fallacy, as any teaching – whether its face to face or online – requires resourcing.

  10. I suspect one of the drivers not mentioned in the Ernst and Young table above is the lure of tech and novelty, and the consumerism this generates. Universities are no different from the broader world in trying to keep abreast of updates, new programs, new gadgets and storage capacity, all of which always cost money. Many schools have bring your own device policies because they can’t keep up. I certainly blend technology into my classes, but I guess I’m still skeptical about embracing it as an educational paradigm in its own right because the driver isn’t ‘better learning’.

    1. Hi Susy,

      I absolutely agree that technology in itself is not an educational paradigm. Pedagogy should drive the use of technology, not the other way around. Technology provides us with potentially new and powerful tools, as far as I can see that is the main impact.

  11. Activity 1:
    While I agree with many points made in the article, I am not quite as pessimistic about the future of higher education as Clayton Christensen (Clay Christensen, Doubling Down in Inside Higher Ed., link in the Conversation article). Yes, some colleges shut down, but it’s a natural process in the business world, and those that adapt will stay afloat. It reminds me of how the advance of computers eliminated some jobs (human computers) but created demand for programmers. Universities have been adapting in a similar way: as information is becoming more easily available, we change from the focus on knowledge to the focus on skills. I can see how online education can have its place in the global economy, but I don’t quite see it replacing on-campus education yet.
    This leads me to the second question, which is How these developments affect our teaching. I have alluded to my answer earlier: we need to offer something that is difficult or impossible to replicate online (e.g., the development of soft skills, use of hands-on experiences, research skills).

  12. I am not worried about the changing technology and the effects on education. Just repeat my thoughts for Day 1: our ultimate goal is to enhance the students’ learning experience. Every approach, such as technology, group learning, or well-designed assessments, serves this goal. I would like to select a new development carefully to achieve a specific learning objective.
    Many thanks to the fantastic contents and discussions in this coffee course.

  13. In a similar vein to Ksenia, I don’t see TELT as heralding the demise of higher education. With a bit of adaptation, Universities and academics will still retain their relevance.

    Greater access to information does not equate to increased knowledge. Analytical and practical skillsets still need to be taught to use this information. Granted, students may not be using brick-and-mortar libraries as much. They turn to Wikipedia, and all things internet, for their research. However, this has not necessarily resulted in students coming up with better arguments or evidence. On the contrary, students seem less able to distinguish between the copious information out there. Many assessments are regurgitations of (bad) information with no argument or structure. Could these skills be taught online? Probably. Do students have the skills to figure out which courses will best teach them these skills? Based on observing my students over the past few cohorts, probably not. The best analogy I can draw is from the kitchen. Having access to a recipe does not mean you can produce the same product as the professional chef who wrote the recipe. Some things cannot be learnt on paper/screen.

As Kak notes, higher education needs to find a new way to teach. Surely institutions devoted to teaching and learning are better placed than any other industry to find these new ways.

    1. Hi Bhavani, excellent points. You have touched on an important area, and that is, since online resources and research repositories are becoming the norm, there is a need for specific training and education in the art and science of using such resources in a discriminating and clever way, and to avoid being taken in by poor research and fake news.

  14. Lately I’ve been seeing educational institutions start to use AI to improve the teaching and learning . For example Deakin has Genie, a app/program that students can talk to (much like Google Assistant or Siri). It helps them to study , set up project plans and gather information. I also know that they are trialing computer marking of essays in High School.

    These new technologies present enourmous opportunities if we embrace them and think of how best to utilize them. They also reflect reality, where we often get an app to tell us what to do (e.g. fitness apps) or some computer processes our information (think banks).

    I don’t think we should be afraid of them, but we should learn how they work and then think of the best way they can be used to help our students learn best

    1. Hi David, thanks for those examples, something for some of us to investigate further! I like your point that this type of technology mirrors what students use every day in the form of apps for a large range of activities. And as discussed previously, we have to use technology that is a good fit to the purpose, or what we want students to achieve.

  15. I think it’s a given that higher education will continue to use technology to enhance teaching and learning. My interest in this area is on all the other things that are connected to using technology either as a teacher or a support staff. Many times I have identified tools that can solve certain learning design problems. But –
    • There’s no budget to buy or subscribe to the software
    • Management is reluctant to use something that only I can support; I always get the question, “What happens when you’re not here anymore”

    When I was still at the ANU College of Law, a lecturer used Poll Everywhere for his large class (500 students) and talked about how it enhanced student engagement, which in turn got other academics interested in the tool. We even held forums where we talked about the pedagogical side of using Poll Everywhere. And just when we were about to work with it, ANU stopped supporting it due to costs.

    Sustainability is the main issue that I encounter and the major reason for pushing back on using technology. While I am all for empowering our academics to own and produce their teaching resources, I also believe that there are things that should be entrusted to educational technologists or multimedia designers. If the university is not ready to provide that support, very, very few academics will explore the use of technology because they have no time, they have too much workload and/or they just don’t have the appropriate skill required.

    Here in ANU, we’ve heard about complaints about Wattle and how this feature or that feature should be turned on for better student experience. But very few understand that turning on what seems to be a very simple feature will require an army of developers and testers.

    Again, yes to Wattle feature in enhancing learning but we need to hold off on that until we can properly resource it 🙁

  16. I feel that the article is too pessimistic about university face to face education. I agree that there has been changes occurring in the higher ed sector with the inclusion of online learning and use of technology. But, to me it hasn’t been destructive. As with any new thing, there is a period of disruption but from my perspective technology in learning has been a great asset.

    The article hasn’t considered research education. You cannot teach someone research through online courses. A university is the ideal place not only to conduct research but learn to become a good researcher. That being said learning technologies can be used to enhance student learning but it is extremely pessimistic to think that technology will replace university education.

    Clearly we must adapt to meet the requirements of the current age but it can be done keeping intact the core benefit of an on-campus university education. In my own field, we teach a program which is geared towards gaining professional qualification and certification. These courses have been offered worldwide through distance learning for years but students from all over the world decide to come to Australian universities, as we offer an experience which cannot be gained through independent distance learning.

  17. As someone who completed their Masters degree fully online (in 2014), I can definitely say I have noticed this change happening ever more. The students in my cohort were literally all over the world, and from innumerable backgrounds. The university I did that degree through is an expert in distance learning and, looking back, they excelled at including many of the elements I have read about in these coffee courses — such as authentic assessment, peer assessment, a range of online platforms and so on. At the ANU however, this seems to be a slower change. We seem to have very few students who are entirely online, meaning that the courses they get are not designed for never encountering their lecturers face-to-face. This is a steep learning curve for the academics, but also for the university and its administration in general, as many of the student support systems are not in place or not well known enough for distance students.

    In terms of the overview of TEL in HE, I would just like to observe that we are in a catch-22 type situation. In our roles as teachers, we are all at once representative of the sector as a whole, our university, and ourselves. At each level we are fighting to stay on top and ahead of others at that level. This means that we are always in competition and always driven ahead, before we can analyse the full impact of the situations we are moving towards. We can’t look before we leap, otherwise we miss that leap. At the same time, we can’t afford not to look where that leap will take us.

  18. There are some exciting opportunities and prospects ahead. Many of us have enthusiasm and desire to engage with them but due to time, money and lack of support are unable to……or if we able to the question of sustainability raised by others in this thread becomes a huge issue and challenge. Unfortunately, it seems education will continue to be the very poor technological cousin of other industries such as movies and gaming…..what a shame that in the world more money is invested in entertainment rather than education 🙁
    Eeek… the start of this course I would have rated myself TEL optimist (based on the Day 1 Selwyn article)…..I think by the end of this discussion forum I am sounding like TEL pessimist……. :0

  19. To round out this final day, I’m going to zero in on this “proacitve idea” which makes me excited in amidst all the confusion, apprehension, overwhelmingness, that “TEL” sometimes conjures up — this quote here:
    The concept of teaching as a design activity (Elliot & Lodge, 2017, p. 57). Yes, teaching is about design – maybe not the rather clunky ‘user experience design’ or UX that gets bandied about by tech companies in the gig economy… but at its most fundamental core, which to me says ‘planning, focused on intent and outcome, thought through with care and attention’… this is the core of teaching as I enjoy it – not just the moving about of blocks of knowledge like a Tetris game – but starting with our students and thinking onwards from there. This is where TEL is a great enabler, although let’s please rename this as we should always have students included in any abbreviation or term that is fundamentally about them.

  20. I liked the quote from Elliot and Lodge about teaching as a design activity to maximise learning and engagement and that we need to ensure “that technology is seen as part of the elements of a design problem to be solved, rather than a separate entity” It made me reflect that although in the first few days we bemoaned how technology might be facilitating worse outcomes, it could also be the opposite. As lecturers are encouraged to move away from the typical 50 minute power point in favour of digital options, it might encourage them to actually think about the learning outcomes they want to achieve, and if the new technology would increase these outcomes, and then reflect on if their standard lecture format is even doing that to begin with.
    I think that the incredibly fast pace of change in technology that is discussed in the Conversation article actually means that universities should double down on what we have been doing since the Greeks – teaching people to think. A focus on nothing but mastery of the current technologies risks us becoming a 21st typing school and sending students out with nothing more than a skill set that will be redundant in a decade. Instead, particularly a university in that prides itself for being in the top 25 in the world, should focus on sending out students who can think deeply, analyse a wide variety of information and solve the great challenges facing individuals, societies and businesses around the world. The best future for universities is an increase in technology that enhances our ability to do that – technology is the means not the end. I also think the assumption in this article that online education will be cheaper is based on a flawed logic– university is not expensive in the US because of the physical infrastructure but because of the market model, there is no reason that this will not be applied to online courses based out the US either. The reason the Harvard extension one is cheaper than a single year is because it doesn’t have the brand that an actual Harvard degree does. Anyone who can crack that branding will charge accordingly.

  21. I think my major concern regarding wholly online delivery is the apparent shift towards tertiary education being seen as a money-making enterprise. I think that there is a real risk of educational standards being eroded, particularly in the context of conditions such as only being required to pay course fees if students are satisfied with their progress. The flip side of course is that these types of changes often make education more accessible (although perhaps not equitable), which of course if a desirable goal.
    My feeling is that medical education is somewhat sheltered from these issues, given its strict oversight by the AMC and the need for substantial hands-on teaching. I have noticed with our students however, a move towards the use of slick online study sites, where the information provided is not peer-reviewed and sometimes inaccurate. This concerns me, as students should be critical of their sources of information, but the ease with which they can access these study tools make them a desirable option.
    The concept of teaching as a design activity resonates strongly with my teaching philosophy – the integration of new technologies must improve student outcomes, or they are just a waste of time. Each of the different learning platforms i.e. lectures, pracs, online lessons, tech used during face to face teaching, must be seen as contributing to the end-product, and should act in synergy with the other components. This is often difficult to achieve when many different people provide the component parts, but something that I (we) continuously strive for in design and delivery of learning opportunities. The increasing availability of new technologies, and ideas on how they could be utilised, make this a moving feast. Our aim is to make sure that the end result is a positive one.
    I was very interested to read the report on use of AR – over the past 12 months I have been developing a phone app using AR in teaching of neuro-anatomy and physiology. This has been an exciting project and its beta-release was very favourably received by the students. One of the limitations, however, has been the time, and therefore cost, involved in developing a tool such as this. Cutting-edge technology comes with a very large price-tag, which must be balanced against the benefit gained.

  22. My responses to the 3 learning activities:
    1) I am sceptical that MOOCs are going to become the main vehicle whereby students learn, in large part due to the fact that it requires a HIGH degree of self-motivation and determination to complete a four-year degree. As the active learning paradigm and research on education shows, students benefit from also interacting with one another and individual feedback to help stimulate development of knowledge and skills (including critical thinking, developing skills in writing and arithmetic). While there no guarantee that a university will survive, being able to offer a better opportunity for learning and successful completion of education helps to maintains student demand for universities. To the extent that a lecture-exam format is a norm (as has been traditionally been a mainstay at ANU), however, my view is that the university creates a format where MOOCs may prove to be a viable alternative.
    2) I think many courses already have a substantive online component, even if its not intentional. I have had lecture attendance to be as low as 4% in a class of ~100 students, and that seems to be a norm. Students may choose to watch recorded lectures and complete reading and assessments online, and my experience is that most students choose to do so. I have been at ANU less than five years, but I have already transitioned to using lectorials and moving learning activities (e.g., quizzes, discussions, self-directed learning) online to better facilitate learning. The question I often struggle with is “How do I develop learning activities and strategies to facilitate learning based on educational pedagogy and my teaching practice.
    Most major universities in the world have a tradition of educating international students going back a number of decades, and I am sceptical of the extent to which globalisation may adversely impact my teaching in a new way. The range of student backgrounds increases diversity, and helps to augment courses by helping me to focus on including both Australian and international examples. Most of my international students at ANU take classes in-person and live in Canberra—their exposure to international culture is an important component in their learning. In terms of technology, I find that the main effect is that I make sure I use technologies in a way that clearly and concisely conveys information, to reduce confusion. I see globalisation and internationalisation as benefiting my practice of teaching.
    3) I see potential in both VR & AR practices. For example, using a gaming simulation to understand how births, deaths, and migration impact a population can provide students with a better understanding of the components of population change. Generally, this course has helped me to view technology as a way of designing learning activities and creating learning environments to improve teaching (and not to tear down the pedagogy and approach to teaching I use in my practice of teaching). Use of technologies that are tested for efficacy and designed around established approaches to teaching and educational knowledge(e.g., active learning, Bloom’s taxonomy) also help to ensure that the advantages of learning at a university [even if online or through more narrow/modular training] are maintained as technologies reshape society and education in the decades to come.

  23. Thinking about when I started this course in 2018 until now I can see greater acceptance of technology and thought into how it can be used for teaching and learning, in the context of Wattle but also to supplement activities already available to meet student needs. I think our student population is changing and so are their needs, and how we need to rethink to meet those needs. If you have 10 minutes spare, take a look at this video of David Kellerman (UNSW) showing how he personalises a mass in-person lecture using Microsoft teams: There are skills and talents around and its great to see when people apply them to communicate content more effectively. So many examples around ANU now too!

    1. It’s really interesting to hear how much things have already changed with TEL since this course was first written – definitely something for us to think about when keeping coffee courses up online into the future and how we can maintain their currency.

      I have seen the Microsoft Class Notebook used quite effectively in the ANU Medical School, where they use it for problem-based learning sessions for students to discuss and share notes – I think it works relatively well for them there, but I hadn’t thought about Microsoft Teams for a course. I’d be keen to hear from anyone else at ANU (or elsewhere) using these Office products for T&L needs and what their experiences have been!

  24. I wonder how much the experience of the widespread move to online delivery, often in less than ideal circumstances, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will impact how people feel about online learning or TEL. I have seen a lot of interest from students in returning to in person learning and a desire to recreate activities that approximate typical F2F classes (such as the synchronous zoom tutorial). However, at the same time I also think that people have become more accustomed to online learning and it has opened up new opportunities. For example, I have been enjoying being able to attend public lectures and workshops from a variety of institutions internationally since the move to online. Perhaps, a hybrid or multi-mode model will be norm in the future?

    1. Hi Alison, great points and I agree – there are upsides and downsides to both. Fully online courses offer participants a great deal of flexibility that for many now is the only way the can study – it is just not possible for many to attend compulsory face to face sessions. My own approach to it is that those of us in the online learning area need to perfect ways to create a semblance of the feeling of connectedness, community and identification with a college or university that people have been able to experience on campus. That’s not to say it is possible to replace the obvious advantages of being on campus, and the atmosphere, the chance encounters etc. But with some creativity and thought, students could be facilitated to create their community online.

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