The main arguments proposed for the continued use of learning technologies centred around three underlying assumptions:
- That the key purpose of institutional e-learning technology is to deal with educating at scale;
- That students require ‘safe digital spaces’ in which to engage with their courses;
- And that students benefit from technology that presents the course (and its curricular structure) as the organising principle rather than the common Web based/Social Media focus on the individual.
An alternative viewpoint, rather than countering, was also proposed on three assumptions;
- That the purpose of a university education (of any education) is to prepare students for life after university, not just to get them a job. Therefore the systems with which they interact in the course of their education should not be hermetically sealed from the realities they need to confront on the other side of the degree;
- That these are content-centric systems promote stale content; once the material is deposited there it gets fossilized, reused and unchanging after term after term of teaching the same course;
- And finally that by deploying bespoke institutional systems we are abdicating our responsibility to both staff and students in recommending that these systems are the best fit for their practice, rather than engaging in a critique of what tools are best able to leverage learning.
This presentation and paper will open up the debate, reporting on discussions and engagement after the original debate and eliciting more viewpoints to further the discussion and encourage delegates to think critically about their existing use of technology. It will also propose a continuum of practice with technology, seeking to not identify a right or wrong answer, but instead provide a series of questions, checks and balances that institutions should consider in their deployment of technology.
Finally the session will look beyond the original question, and ask delegates to think critically about their own practice with these technologies. If we have concerns, or consider the use of learning technologies to be worthy of further critical investigation then what does it mean for professional practice, and what sort of checks and balances must we consider putting in place to ensure that we are always acting in the best interests of staff and students. Both of the viewpoints will have a direct implication on open education and open practice, this presentation and paper intends to think critically about how that can be developed and articulated to best effect.
Structure of session
- 5 minute overview
- 5 minute introduction to process
- 30 minutes “Goldfish Bowl”. Delegates will be invited to participate in a debate arguing their viewpoints in 1 minute sessions by “tapping in and out” of two centrally placed chairs in a large circle.
- 20 minutes proposed continuum of practice with technology model. Delegates invited to participate in suggestions for ways forwards and adaptations to model. Reflections and closing comments.
Leading the debate
The Debate will be initiated by Donna Lanclos, University of North Carolina, Charlotte and Lawrie Phipps, Jisc. Lawrie will then lead on the facilitation of the process, whilst Donna stimulates discussion by taking contrary view points in order to elicit wider views.
Outcomes for Delegates
- Delegates will have the opportunity to start the process of critically evaluating existing learning technologies and processes.
- Delegates will walk away with a continuum of practice with technology model , a tool to think about technology and how it is deployed or procured in their institutions.
- Delegates will get a concrete sense of how their practices and those of their institutions are or are not connected with those of others.