Technology Enhanced Learning in Education

Understanding key interventions you can incorporate in your teaching

Put simply, technology enhanced learning refers to "the use of technology to maximise the student learning experience". (Advance HE)

Sometimes these technologies are designed explicitly for learning and teaching - for example, virtual learning environments such as BlackboardMoodle and Canvas. Others - usually highly disruptive - appear from left field: the first Apple iPods led to very rich research into and application of podcasting for pedagogic purposes. Try googling this term and see what pops up. 

As technologies become more mainstream and (crucially) much cheaper, use within education can be exploited. This offers a rich array of opportunities for institutions to enhance how their students learn by augmenting current learning opportunities or offering new ones. 

The speed of this change and the likely impact on teaching can cause anxiety, so we have gathered together this collection of resources to explain as simply as possible some of the key terms you may have encountered.

Please contact your TEL Liaison if you would like to explore any of these in more detail.   

Learning design refers to a "range of activities associated with better describing, understanding, supporting and guiding pedagogic design practices and processes. 

"It is, therefore, about supporting teachers in managing and responding to new perspectives, pedagogies, and work practices resulting, to a greater or lesser extent, from new uses of technology to support teaching and learning." [italics added] (Simon Cross and Gráinne Conole)

It means shifting focus from the teacher to thinking about learners first — who they are, what they know, how they think, and how to reach them effectively so they get the most out of their educational experience.

There are many models of learning design available, including Gilly Salmon's highly successful 5-Stage Model, the UCL's ABC Learning Design and Pearson Education's  Learning Design Principles.

A learning design workshop (or at least an understanding of the principles) should precede any major incorporation of technology in an existing or new programme.  

This video by Professor Salmon gives a good overview of what involved in the application of learning design. 

 

Flipped learning is a situation where students engage with the course content online (perhaps by watching a video) before attending the face-to-face session with the teacher (when the traditional lecture might have been held). 

The face-to-face time is now used for small group work, knowledge consolidation and clarification and so on. 

Jon Bergmann captures the reasoning behind flipping clearly in terms of group and individual spaces. 


A MOOC is a massive open online course, usually lasting 4-5 weeks. 

MOOCs are the natural successors to the earlier connectivism of Siemens and Downes, which argued that the Internet and World Wide Web offered unprecedented opportunities for informal learning from high-quality free resources and from each other. 

MOOCs are usually packaged by institutions on platforms such as FutureLearn and Coursera, both for altruistic reasons and for showcasing specific offerings. 

MOOCs are defined by the huge numbers of learners who can take part in a single cohort - usually numbering in the thousands. Online technologies allow these levels of participation. MOOCs are also are free and open to all users. 

More recently, institutions have been offering MOOCs with the option - for a fee - to gain academic credits.

The methodology and platforms can be useful for other learning scenarios. This video highlights a short FutureLearn course produced by University of East Anglia for new university students. 

 

Blended learning uses 'multiple methods to deliver learning, combining face-to-face interactions with online activities'.

The key thing to remember is that the interactions and online activities must feed into and support each other (i.e. the learning that is achieved) rather than stand as isolated elements. 

So simply turning face to face lectures into recorded versions and then running seminars as usual is not blended learning (although this model has value in itself, perhaps by offering flexibility of study for busy students). 

A blended learning opportunity might ask students to engage with peers in a discussion forum around concepts presented in a recent article, and then bring these responses into the seminar for further discussion and debate. 

Equally, a flipped class might form part of a blended learning programme. 

You would undertake a learning design workshop to provide the framework for your belnded programme. 

This video is an excellent showcase for showing the benefits of blended learning for personalised, student-centred learning experiences at a US high school. 


Student response systems - or clickers - allow participants at an event to respond in real time to triggers in the presentation. During a lecture, the speaker may adjust the emphasis of the rest of the talk based on the responses given by the student. 

For example, a lecturer may ask part-way through the presentation whether students feel A, B or C is the correct answer to a trigger question. If most students choose C when A is the answer, the lecturer may spend a few minutes revisiting the concept that had been misunderstood.  

A SRS allows participation in a didactic process by students who might feel too uncertain to raise a hand or respond to an open question from the lecturer. 

Student response systems come in both hardware (handsets) and software (smartphone apps) forms or a mixture of both. They are also used to capture feedback at the end of an event.

Note that we have 50 Qwizdom handsets in TEL available for staff to use. 

This fun video by UC Santa Barbara faculty staff captures the essence of using a SRS. 


Instructional design predates the concept of learning design, although there continues to be considerable debate over the extent to which the two differ. 

Instructional design will take a learner through a carefully considered series of steps towards the achievement of the learning outcomes and aligns to a methodology such as ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate). Of course, elements of this model also appear in learning design.

One way to think of the distinction might be as follows. Instructional design takes the curriculum offered by the teacher and turns this into learning activities and particularly materials (instructions) with which the learner will engage, almost always in isolation on an e-learning platform. 

Learning design asks what the learner should achieve and develops activities and (sometimes) materials for presentation in an educational setting using technology (an environment for learning) and almost always in collaboration with peers. Sometimes this will be e-learning, sometimes blended and so on. 

The flexibility of learning design lends itself better to understanding complex concepts where reflection, peer sharing and revisiting are required. 

This is a very clear video that outlines the main attributes of the instructional designer.


 

A screencast is a recording of what appears on the computer screen. It is usually quite instructional in nature. Often this recording includes an audio narrative from the presenter/recorder. Screencasts are in video format so will play on virtually any device. 

Many popular programmes such as MS PowerPoint  lend themselves well for the production of screencasts. 

For example, a lecturer might want to explain a complex concept that she felt wasn't well understood in the lecture. A short screencast presented on the course page in the VLE allows students to revisit this.

Or screencasts can be used for flipping. A series might be produced to cover the main didactic content while the face-to-face time is used to explore the concepts in group work. 

Screencasts are informal, quick, simple to produce and highly effective for learners. You don't need a high level of skill to produce one - just a little bit of planning and a practice run!

This is an example of an academic screencast from the Open University  (you can see plenty of instructional screencasts under TEL's resources on these webpages). 


OER are "free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes". 

They are predicated on "the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge." (creativecommons.org)

In terms of usefulness for teachers, there's little point spending a lot of time creating new resources when you can simply adapt an existing OER in the same discipline.  This is likely to be with less specialist material (e.g. the origins of the Second World War) but it's always worth checking OER repositories. OER might be a single asset (an image) or a full course or programme. 

OER are underpinned by the Creative Commons licensing regime. There are a number of different CC licenses but the basic rule of thumb is that if you use an OER, you should attribute the source/author(s). If you amend the OER and turn it into something new, you should return it to the community for others to use and share. 

Although well-entrenched in Higher and Further Education, the concept of 'free to use' still struggles for purchase within the public sector. Surprising, as one might assume this is where any altruistic endeavour sits best. 

A good place to start exploring OER is through the Creative Commons search engine. 

Despite the (very common) misconception, very little of what you find on the Web is free to use - including many YouTube clips. Stay focused on OER and Creative Commons and you should be fine, assuming you attribute. 

This is a nice video from UNED - Spanish University for Distance Learning - that outlines OER. 


Quizzes, especially MCQs (multiple choice questions), delivered through a VLE are a powerful and effective way to assess the learning of students during a programme. 

You can present quizzes to unlimited numbers of learners. Feedback - prepared when creating the quiz - is automated and conditional to the response.   

Quizzes can also be used diagnostically to assess learners' competencies prior to starting on a new course or concept.

The University of Bristol's Digital Education Office has some great resources and case studies on how they've used quizzes.

A very interesting article from Swinburne Online (Australia) looks at adaptive quizzes tailored to the student's level of understanding.   

Please contact your TEL Liaison first if you are interested in creating quizzes for your course.



E-portfolios platforms have been around in some form or another for a long time and they keep getting better. 

An e-portfolio is "a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a learner, usually on the Web. Such electronic evidence may include input text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks." 

In essence, they are a learning record. Access permissions on an e-portfolio platform can be manipulated by the learner to allow peers and tutors - or tutors only etc. - to see specific evidence. 

An open source and popular e-portfolio platform is Mahara - a close cousin of Moodle. 

A commercial platform such as PebblePad  sets a high bar for collaboration, evidence gathering and formative assessment opportunities. 

We don't have an e-portfolio platform in the Trust at present but, with the right academic support, we're willing to make a pitch! They are powerful learning enhancement tools if integrated with thought. 

But don't just listen to us - ask the Head of Assessment Development and Delivery at Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA).