The uptake of learning technologies has been, in many cases, disappointing. University managers, educational technologists, educators and other practitioners are looking for ways to overcome this resistance and boost the use of learning management systems, also known as virtual learning environments, or VLEs. However, researchers have found factors that influence the adoption of learning technologies are not universal, and they differ from country to country.
Looking at media coverage of education for the past 18 months, you’d be forgiven for thinking technology is all that matters − and that now we’ve all learned how to use dozens of platforms, all our problems will be solved.
Many challenges associated with ensuring student engagement and minimising attrition when teaching online are well established in the context of postgraduate education, where remote study has long been a key component. Educational podcasts have been used successfully to address these challenges and improve postgrad student online learning experiences.
Now that many universities plan to continue hybrid and online teaching for their undergraduates, lessons can be learned from what has worked for postgrads, including examining why and how to effectively use podcasts for teaching.
Social media is often seen as either the sole domain of youth or a hive of fake news. Neither gives the full story. Academics have been using social media for research and scholarship since the first tweet was tweeted. And although social media has been weaponised to influence elections and public opinion, it also serves as free-to-use, free-flowing and far-reaching academic discussion while encouraging creativity that can spark learning and inquiry.
There is a lot of debate about whether students should be made to put their cameras on in a Zoom or Teams or other online class setting. In higher education, students can’t be forced to do so, which leaves most tutors exasperated at the lack of interaction and thus engagement from those who choose not to have them on. However, it is my belief that the majority of those who don’t turn them on are actually sitting on a “should I or shouldn’t I” fence, and can be persuaded to make a sensible learning decision.
As a lecturer who has actively explored the role of lecture recording as a form of technology-enhanced learning, there’s a question I keep returning to: what is a lecture for?
This past year has emphasised the value of community. In higher education, many students and instructors struggled with a sense of isolation from their peers and colleagues when institutions adopted remote and virtual settings at the start of the pandemic. While academic advisers are not often in the spotlight, they play a vital role in bridging the gap between student and institution and in helping students feel part of a broader learning community. Feeling connected – that is, being “seen” and “heard” – is critical to student success.
Play is a fundamental way in which we learn. Long before children encounter formal educational methods, they play, learning new skills and behaviours along the way.
As a formalised style of play, games are well suited to education. They are inherently engaging and have built-in reward structures and variable levels of difficulty. Furthermore, many games encourage cooperation, group work and the development of communication and problem-solving skills. For these reasons, games are used extensively in early years education.
Did you buy a new desk and chair last year? Are you sitting comfortably now as a result? Maybe you’ve got a perfect oak table upon which your smartphone sits in exact alignment with your laptop beside a bright green apple and perfectly foamed latte? That’s what the stock photos show of homeworking, anyway. But if this isn’t an accurate representation of your homeworking set-up, it’s probably not an accurate representation of students’ home-learning environments, either.