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The impact of new technologies on teaching and learning

September 20th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

For a report that I am working on, I have been asked to assess the impact of new technologies on teaching and learning in the vocational education sector in the UK.

One major problem in judging the impact of new technologies on teaching and learning and on pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning is the need for metrics for judging such impact. it is relatively simple to survey the number of computers in a school, or the speed of an internet connection. It is also not impossible to count how many teachers are using a particular piece of technology. It is far harder to judge pedagogic change. One tool which could prove useful in this respect is the iCurriculum Framework (Barajas et al, 2004), developed by the European project of the same name.The framework was intended as a tool that can be used by educators to record the effects of their learners activities. It is based on seeing pedagogic and curricula activities along three dimensions – an Operational Curriculum, an Integrating Curriculum and a Transformational curriculum. It is possible to approach pedagogies for using technologies for learning for the same subject and for the same intended outcomes on any one of those three dimensions.

  • Operational Curriculum is learning to use the tools and technology effectively. Knowing how to word-process, how to edit a picture, enter data and make simple queries of an information system, save and load files and so on.
  • Integrating Curriculum is where the uses of technology are applied to current curricula and organisation of teaching and learning. This might be using an online library of visual material, using a virtual learning environment to deliver a course or part of a course. The nature of the subject and institution of learning is essentially the same, but technology is used for efficiency, motivation and effectiveness.
  • Transformational Curriculum is based on the notion that what we might know, and how, and when we come to know it is changed by the existence of the technologies we use and therefore the curriculum and organisation of teaching and learning needs to change to reflect this. (p 8)

In terms of general approaches suggested by research literature, most Further Education colleges in the UK are still approaching pedagogy and curriculum design from the standpoint of an operational curriculum, and although there are some examples of an integrating curriculum, there is little evidence of using technology for transformation.

Reference:

Barajas, M., Heinemann, L., Higueras, E., Kikis-Papakadis, K., Logofatu, B., Owen, M. et al. (2004). Guidelines for Emergent Competences at Schools, http://promitheas.iacm.forth.gr/i-curriculum/outputs.html

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