Technology supported learning and teaching within the context of higher education in a 21st century society

  • John O'Donoghue

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    "The physical environment in which teaching and learning occurs is being replaced with an electronic classroom, but the process of teaching is very much the same. In the second phase, however, we will begin to use technology in new ways, to advance beyond what was possible in the classroom. "Downes. (2004).

    This overview supports an application for a PhD by publication at the University of Glamorgan. It identifies the tensions, barriers and facilities within the field which is broadly called eLeaming, but which I prefer to term Technology Supported Leaming. Successful uses of appropriate innovative technologies by staff and students in education is not a mystical or ethereal goal. Real innovation is often driven by the passionate few, frequently developed in their own time and enthused by a real desire to make a difference to the learning of their students. This motivation is not unique, unusual or perhaps unexpected. However the real problem is in 'mainstreaming' this innovatory practice or activity, (O'Donoghue, 2006, p. vii).

    As contemporary society becomes increasingly diverse and complex, so does the process of preparing young people for life as independent thinkers, productive citizens, and future leaders. The changing nature of students, the collegiate experience, learning, teaching, and outcomes assessment all have substantive implications for altering educational practice. The information age has encouraged the ubiquity of a seemingly endless supply of information that is there just waiting to be internalised by students who have the ability and the inclination to interrogate the vast range of information systems available. There is a need to consider the relationship between pedagogy and technology in driving the changes to the education process and what outcomes will determine the efficacy of these new learning environments. Pedagogic determinism needs to be focused within the 'real' world of increasing financial pressures on students and educational establishments.

    The development of Higher Education Institutions into 'customer' focused establishments competing for students who are, in some cases, reluctant or unable to attend formal educational institutions but who want to acquire qualifications and skills creates problems for both the establishments and staff. There are associated issues which my overview addresses, such as how technology might service this cohort of people who are looking to less formal mechanisms of education, technology versus pedagogy, issues of social learning whilst being remote and yet online, issues and necessary change required if the concept of 'virtual' educational institutions are to be realised.

    Higher education is best seen as a process, focused on learning, in which content is combined in some way with some forms of technology, whether they be "chalk and talk," television broadcast, or an IT-based delivery platform. My conclusion is that the development of technology-based learning support structures, that is, technology based enhancements to formal teaching and learning strategies embedded in the pedagogy, will assist the education and training sector. In some ways, many of the changes currently going, economic, technological, political, are compelling us to examine issues about how we support student learning, an issue which many of us might prefer to ignore, (Bernardes and O'Donoghue, 2003). I have endeavoured to consider this within a variety of different learning contexts - nursing to engineering, (Drozd and O'Donoghue, 2007; O'Donoghue and Laoui, 2008).
    Date of AwardNov 2008
    Original languageEnglish


    • Education, Higher
    • Computer-assisted instruction
    • technological innovation

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