Thursday 14 February 2008

Ideas for a conference submission ...

E learning - a review of the literature and some pragmatic suggestions for the HE teacher.

In this discussion I argue that people have always exercised freedom and imagination in how they learn. I draw from debates around writing and literature, research methods and education theory to highlight the multi-faceted ways in which individuals approach their learning.

E-learning is becoming embedded in teaching and learning in UK HEI’s - institutions are looking for higher quality, wider access, elegant scalability and intrusive monitoring.

Meanwhile academics are coming under increasing pressure to incorporate online support, activities and discussion into their teaching. What I believe is lacking is a pedagogic AND pragmatic model which can be used to inform the teacher as they are designing an online environment. In particular, we are strongly encouraged as teachers to adopt a constructive approach to teaching – but where is the evidence to suggest that this is the best approach, in which context, for what learners, for what age group?

In this debate I propose that the social constructivist model has been stretched beyond breaking point, and that a more balanced and pragmatic ‘blend’ of pedagogy be used to inform the design of the online environment. I am also looking for generic principles which can be used throughout the lifetime of a course, and especially during critical points, such as the design of a first online discussion and a tutor’s
feedback to students – such as the decision of whether to feedback individually or in a discussion group.

I believe that ICT has a central role to play in the university of the 21st century and that this role will grow for both students and academics. I think (and include evidence to support) that its impact will work best when it is engaged to work with not instead of other methods, together not apart from the more traditional approaches. At the end of a debate I am looking for a model which will enable the hard pressed academic to better select and design ICT objects to support their teaching and learning objectives.

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