Tools for a changing learning environment

Quotation

Critical to the use of technology in education is the realisation that the technology is simply the mediatory for collaboration and representation, and that it is the type of task and thinking processes in which students engage that determines the quality of learning.

Bower et al (2010)

 

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Resources for exploring the key historical dates, inventions, thought...

Teaching online requires an understanding of technology tools and the approaches taken for using these tools for teaching and learning. The internet – and the advent of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets – have changed the way we access and exchange information and have enabled us to construct learning environments that are accessible in any place and at any time. Instead of simply thinking about online teaching as classroom teaching delivered through the internet, try to explore the ways that you can leverage technology tools to create an engaging learning experience for your students.

In the following video, practitioners describe the relationship between the key learning approaches that you will review in this course, and the technology tools that are used in support of these approaches.

In the following interviews, practitioners describe the relationship between the key learning approaches that you will review in this course, and the technology tools that are used in support of these approaches.

Click 'Play' to start the video.
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Assessing student use of technology

Understanding your online students will help in your approach to working with online learning technology tools. Many of today's online learners are looking for flexible ways to meet their educational requirements, while also balancing work and family life. Some online learners are taking one or two online courses that will fit best with their schedules. You may even have a few students who have never taken an online course before!

online learning

Learning delivered primarily over the internet.

In the following activity, click on each individual to learn how different types of students have varying needs and preferences when it comes to using technology tools in online learning.

The following paragraphs give the views of different types of students and their varying needs and preferences when it comes to using technology tools in online learning.

Key terms

Social media: Communication media which allow for the...

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The 'Exploring the Student Voice in Online Education' project aims to garner...

Student 1 – 'Career advancement'

"I want to go to university but I still need to work. With online learning I can access my courses when I'm not working, and work at my own pace. I love experimenting with new technology tools and use my phone and iPad to access many of my course reading materials."


Student 2 – 'Degree completion'

"I quit university to raise a family, and now it is time for me to finish my studies. With online learning I can still take time for my family and complete my degree. I keep in touch with friends and family on Facebook, but other than that I don't use much social media. I am just learning to navigate the university learning management system, and am thrilled to have access to the online library for my scholarly research."


Student 3 – 'Job training'

"My job requires me to take additional courses. Taking these courses online means I don't lose any time from work, and I can still meet my job requirements. It also allows me to have a more global perspective. I use technology tools in my work every day, but have restricted access to social media applications at my office. I prefer to keep things simple and use my laptop computer only when I'm working in my online classes."


Student 4 – 'Flexibility'

"I prefer to take online courses so that I can attend my university of choice and don't have to move away from home. I love technology tools, and social media tools help me stay connected with my fellow classmates. I stay up-to-date with technology tools, but still need help understanding how to find scholarly research online."


Student 5 – 'Required course'

"I need this course to complete my programme, but it is only available online. I would prefer to take it on campus but I have no choice. I'm not comfortable using technology tools on my own and I am worried about learning how to use a new technology tool just to take this course."

To better understand your students' needs and preferences, consider surveying them about the technology tools they have access to, and which they use on a regular basis. Include questions that relate to the technology tools you are considering for use in your course, and if appropriate, include the following questions:

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Portfolio activity

Create a pre-course questionnaire to assess your students' learning...

learning management system (LMS)

A web-based system similar to a VLE that administers, documents, tracks, reports and delivers e-learning education courses or training programmes. Often used by universities, it enables students to use interactive features such as video conferencing and discussion boards. Examples include Moodle, Edmodo and Blackboard.

virtual learning environment (VLE)

A web-based system similar to an LMS. It is often used by universities to deliver educational content, providing tools, such as discussion boards, wikis and electronic submission, to support teaching and learning. Examples include Blackboard, Moodle and WebCT.

smartphone

A mobile phone with computer features that allow it to interact with computerised systems, send emails, and access the internet.

tablet

A small, flat computer that is controlled by touching the screen.

Student responses may help you determine the types of technology tools that will enable you to provide them with a rich and engaging learning experience, without overwhelming them.

As you progress through this course you will have the opportunity to review a variety of technology tools and approaches to using them. As with all teaching and learning, your focus should be on student success. As you review available technology tools, stay focused on learning goals and desired student outcomes. The technology is there to help you create an engaging online learning experience for you and your students.


Quotation

Critical to the use of technology in education is the realisation that the technology is simply the mediatory for collaboration and representation, and that it is the type of task and thinking processes in which students engage that determines the quality of learning.

Bower et al (2010)

Useful links

Key terms

Social media: Communication media which allow for the creation of online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, etc. Social media is used in online learning as a virtual 'hallway' for interaction to foster collaborative learning. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Mobile devices: Smartphones and tablets are generally referred to as mobile devices. In mobile learning these devices are used to access learning content, and to participate in learning activities.

Useful links

Portfolio

Duration: 30 minutes

Create a pre-course questionnaire to assess your students' learning needs and preferences.

Download the attached document to use as a basis for your questionnaire, or use the relevant page of your Teaching Online portfolio.

Amend the existing questions and/or add new questions relevant to your online course.

You might consider using an online tool such as www.surveymonkey.com, or a tool on your institution's LMS/VLE, to help with collecting data. Keep a record of the results in your portfolio.