Lessons from the East and West

Does the Learning Landscape look this for you?

The Learning Landscape is changing and not just in the title of the Higher Education Academy’s Programme entitled ‘Changing the Learning Landscape’. Central to some of this change is the role of technologies to facilitate learning and teaching. There are many examples of this from the rising universities in the east (in Singapore for example) and the more established universities in the west (in the US for example).

Last month, Professor Daniel Tan, Director, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore gave a keynote presentation entitled ‘Learning that clicks and connects’ as part of Education Day, which illustrated many aspects of how changing learning spaces and using technologies such as lecture capture set ups in these new spaces and the use of virtual learning environment activities are allowing learners to learn not just from the lecturer but also from each other in a way that wasn’t possible but the advent of technology and therefore learning at a much deeper level.

In the US, along with the concept of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) at several universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford, there’s also the idea of the flipped classroom, which as the name suggests inverts what happens in the classroom and delivers this as online instruction and brings the homework into the classroom. The idea of the flipped classroom has also extended to the test, as this article mentions. This initiative would certainly support the view of Jimmy Wales, Co-founder of Wikipedia regarding boring lectures.

The Flipped Classroom | Source: http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

We don’t have to go far to see innovation and new ways in which technologies are used in teaching. University College London hosted a short seminar recently, entitled ‘From E-Learning to Active Learning: Transforming the Learning Environment’ and discussed the ideas beyond lecture capture , which outlines ways of making better use of the classroom time in higher education institutions. It was interesting to draw parallels with some of the work done here at Imperial and also highlighted the need for institutions to try some different approaches to the traditional concepts of lectures.

Whatever we do, we must not forget the great infrastructure already available to many of us in our institutions that we have at our disposal . In many cases, we are the chefs of learning, cooking a pizza when we create e-Learning in our courses. I mentioned this as a metaphor in a recent workshop I delivered as part of the ‘Changing the Learning Landscape Series’. The idea extends from Clive Shepard’s description of Blended Learning. The metaphor was further elaborated on by a fellow presenter on the day, Dave Foord in a blog article.

As we continue to be bombarded with new technologies that have teaching applications, it’s worth noting that being passionate about your teaching and keeping the learning outcomes, whether face to face or online is a key aspect of being successful when using technologies in your teaching. If you do use technologies in your teaching, they need to be ones you are comfortable with which will help you be more passionate about them with your learners. When teachers do attempt online teaching and students attempt online learning, they are thought of as second class citizens to their face to face counterparts. This is both unhelpful and untrue. It’s about how that learning take places, what the activities are that engage the learner in different ways and how they are assessed that make good face to face learning as well as good online learning.

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