With the impending delivery of the CE module to another university in Asia together with possible future provision in the Far East, there are many challenges that face the organization both as a whole, as well as for specific module delivery itself in terms of successfully exploiting the technology. Thus, as Alavi et al. (2001) propose, there needs to be research into how various technology mediated learning (TML) environments "affect student psychological learning processes and outcomes."

Such research seems vital in light of the increasing perception that use of ICT may provide the key to widening participation as well as to enhancing progression and retention while, at the same time not losing sight of what educationalists can provide in the f2f context. For example, the use of technology for providing flexible, "just in time," life-long learning is perceived to be of primary importance to survival within an increasingly competitive and global HE sector which sees students with a variety of learning styles taking a more strategic approach to their education having to juggle personal and academic priorities in order to fulfil their financial demands. Quite how this can be done to best effect at both the programme and organisational level is still a major challenge for most HE institutions within the UK. As Alavi et al. (2001) note, "recent attempts at studying TML in IS research tend to adopt an overly simplistic view of this phenomenon" which primarily "tries to establish a direct cause-effect relationship between technology (stimulus) and learning outcome (response), while ignoring the larger context within which learning occurs." This Alavi et al. (2001) feel "represents a static view and perhaps an outdated stimulus-response perspective on learning research." Such an approach might well be seen to underpin the development of "intelligent" tutoring systems which are intended to replace the "traditional" human teacher rather than in developing open learning environments wherein the student may take control and determine his or her own learning pathways and goals.

Many academics are, therefore, concerned to determine how to facilitate learning by using the technology in ways that are ethically sound as well as employing techniques that do not simply try to replicate what is probably better achieved in f2f situations. In other words, the concern that is particularly relevant for the teaching of the campus-based student is, it would seem, to determine how the technology may be exploited to offer different approaches to learning that are not feasible in non-virtual environments and how to integrate this with the f2f contact sessions with a tutor or "expert." As Alavi et al. (2001) note "TML should not merely attempt to replicate conventional learning but try to enhance and improve it. An important research question is, therefore: ‘How does technology enhance learning?’"

Thus, as further noted by Wintlev-Jensen (2000), "being swept forward by the constant waves of technological innovation is simply not a satisfactory solution to the fundamental problems facing educators and teachers today. It is necessary to stand back and re-examine the relevance of current mainstream activities in the light of new thinking. On the one hand, there is growing concern amongst pedagogists regarding the widening gap between educational theories and existing learning environments, the development of which is driven mainly by technological advances rather than educational objectives. On the other hand, there are some technological developments which have the possibility of radically shifting the established paradigms of learning."

A major challenge for the HE sector as a whole would, therefore, be to acknowledge that as computers become more ubiquitous that there is an urgent need to ensure that ethical issues related to the malleability and societal impact of technology is more overtly addressed across all subject areas and disciplines. In so doing, a shared, ethically and pedagogically aware approach to the appropriate integration and exploitation of the technology might then be more universally adopted. It may then be possible to facilitate a technological shift and thereby challenge some of the established and proposed paradigms of learning.

Annals of Cases on Information Technology
SQL Tips & Techniques (Miscellaneous)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 367 © 2008-2017.
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