If you believe that Technology Enhanced Learning is a good thing (and I do), then if you have institutional responsibility for it you have a duty to your students to see that it is as widely and effectively used as possible. However education is one of the most complex work environments, unlike a factory rolling out a new production process you cant just insist that everyone “does” Technology Enhanced Learning. In this post I explore how to move forward with technology improving the educational experience while at the same time supporting and enhancing individual staff creativity.
To help illustrate this I am going to use “Gliddon’s Heiracy of TEL” that I designed a few years ago.
Starting with the bottom level Functional Technology, most institutions see their VLE as a mission critical system and so they are adequately resourced in terms of the hardware and the staff to support them. Having worked with VLEs for a decade I can rapidly fix any problem that they have and have trained others to do the same. Similarly I have advised other institutions via mailing lists on how to fix their problems – this is a key aspect of modern VLEs, when they break you have a whole community of minds to draw upon to get a solution. The other key area of TEL would be the cloud tools that are available and the vast majority are robust and reliable, one of the functions of a TEL department should be to recommend various cloud tools to staff.
Most institutions have this level for most of the technologies they wish to use, when bringing new technologies in try to avoid getting overenthusiastic and using systems before they are running reliably a single bad experience will put staff off for a long time.
Reliability/Useability ideally you will have selected technology that is reliable and easy to use. However what is important here is the staff/student perception of how reliable and easy to use a system is, there are a number of things you can do to improve this. The first and most effective is to have a helpdesk where the staff are familiar with the system. The second is to have clearly laid out support materials and videos of the most common uses of the technology.
The idea is that most staff/students must feel confident that they can make it do what they want or rapidly find out how to.
In my next post I will look at the most difficult level to get right Training/Culture.