• Author(s): Dr Jane Hughes, Jannie Roed
  • Title: Learning, Teaching and Technologies
  • Subject: HE - Education
  • Keywords: UKOER, UKPSF, OMAC, CPD4HE, e-learning, learning technologies, technology-enhanced learning, TEL, VLE, Moodle
  • Language(s): English
  • Material type(s): Text, Audio
  • File format(s): ZIP, HTML, PDF, ODT, RTF, MP3
  • File size: Various
  • Publish Date: 25th March 2011
  • Licence: CC-BY-SA


Activity: Initial grounding

What is learning?

If you have previously read or talked about how people learn, you may want to skip this section. Otherwise, this short activity, reflecting on your own learning experiences, could serve as an introduction to some of these ideas.

  • Images of learning. How would you draw “learning” as you have experienced it? Make some sketches. How many different drawings do you need?
  • What words would you use as metaphors for learning? For example, is it like digging …? searching …? drinking …? List as many metaphors as you can.
  • If you are working with colleagues, compare your drawings and word list. Are they similar? If not, how might you account for the differences?
  • You might then be interested to read Fox (1983). In this accessible article he uses metaphors to explore different conceptions of teaching and, by implication, learning.
  • Finally, Mike Sharples, in a 2003 paper about mobile learning - Sharples (2003) – gives a glimpse of some theories about learning. He refers to “3 Cs of effective learning”, “construction”, “conversation”, and “control”:

    Effective learning involves constructing an understanding, relating new experiences to existing knowledge [10]. Central to this is conversation, with teachers, with other learners, with ourselves as we question our concepts, and with the world as we carry out experiments and explorations and interpret the results [11]. And we become empowered as learners when we are in control of the process, actively pursuing knowledge rather than passively consuming it [p3].
    Think about what these three words imply. List some examples from your own learning experience, for each one. Do you think your students have opportunities for all three of these elements of learning?

What is e-learning?

One could debate this for a long time, but the aim here is just to think about the scope and find a definition that seems to cover it.

  • Over the last fifteen years or so, the terminology has changed: educational technology became learning technology, then learning technologies, e-learning and technology-enhanced learning (TEL). What might be behind these changes in terminology?
  • Look at a current definition of e-learning from the JISC website, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/elearning_pedagogy.html:

    ‘learning facilitated and supported through the use of information and communications technology (ICT).’

Does this accommodate everything that you would regard as e-learning? If not, either try to modify this definition or search online for alternatives. If you are working with others, try to explain to them why you think the JISC definition needs to be modified. Do they agree with you? If not, how do you account for the disagreement?

What technologies are included?

Ideally, work with one or more other people on this so that you can pool your knowledge. If you are from different disciplines that is even better, since different disciplines make different uses of learning technologies.

  • In pairs, look through the list of technologies in the table below. Which – if any - do you use in your teaching? Which are used by other teachers in your discipline? Have you experienced any of them as a student? Do you use any of them in your research? Would you like more explanation about any of the items? Is there anything that should be added to the list?
Equipment such as computers, digital cameras, audio recorders, interactive whiteboards, mobile devices
A virtual learning environment (VLE) or learning management system (LMS), such as WebCT/Blackboard; moodle
An ePortfolio, such as Mahara
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools, such as chat, online discussion, videoconferencing
Web 2.0, social networking, sharing and collaboration tools, for example a wiki or blog, image sharing, social bookmarking
Virtual worlds or gaming
Simulations or remote laboratories
  • Finally make a list of learning technologies to investigate for your own teaching.


Creative Commons Licence
Learning, Teaching and Technologies by Dr Jane Hughes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.ucl.ac.uk.

Contact us: cpd4he@ucl.ac.uk

Bookmark and Share
CPD4HE Banner Small