Policy Perspectives



This week started with the task of choosing a chapter from ICT Leadership in Higher Education: Selected Readings (ed. Sanjaya Mishra); a task that is more challenging than it seems. Not only did all of the chapters sound interesting, I was uncertain which essay would best connect to my practice as a teacher trainer. I opted for Palitha Edirisingha’s chapter on ICT and e-learning in Higher Education: Policy Perspective and I was surprised to find that many issues Pal examines in his case study at Leicester University relates to my experience of working in a corporate education setting.

To summarise, here are three key points Pal examines that I intend to pay more attention to in my work:

1)  Innovate, don’t replicate

An interesting observation is how virtual learning environments (VLE) are sometimes used to replicate teaching practices as opposed to develop new ones. Pal provides the example of online platforms being used as a repository for lecture presentations and notes. This example resonates with my experience of using VLEs as an undergraduate student where it was used for this exact purpose. Similarly, I can see how the VLE we use in my current work to train teachers at times replicates face-to-face practices as opposed to experimenting with different methods that complement e-learning. This has certainly given me a lot to think about as I move forward in developing training material.  

2)  Set up for success

For learning technologies to be implemented and sustained, management need to keep the following in mind:

  • Create buy-in from staff by showing how effective learning technologies are and   how it will enhance teaching and learning
  • Technology needs to be user-friendly
  •  Staff need to engage with learning technology  

These three points Pal presents from Collins and Moonen’s (2001) work are important in encouraging and equipping staff with the means to integrate technology into their practice. This highlights the point that teachers may not exploit learning technologies because they don’t want to, but because they have not been shown how to. From my perspective of a trainer, this reminds me of the importance of demonstrating good practices of how to use technology in training.

3)  Pedagogy for e-learning

Pal compares acquisition, participation and contribution-orientated pedagogies in e-learning. To summarise, acquisition is teacher-led, participation is based on students working together, and contribution is where students’ work is part of the learning material.

Funnily enough, this point came up in a Skype meeting today on developing distance course assessments with a fellow trainer. As we develop distance courses for teachers, the aim is to move towards a more contribution-orientated pedagogy. For this to be successful, it is important that trainers set expectations and create buy-in by showing how this approach will enrich a trainee’s learning..