How educational technology can marry quality and quantity: (how educational technology can address the challenge of quality at scale)

Peachey, Anna (2014). How educational technology can marry quality and quantity: (how educational technology can address the challenge of quality at scale). In: Abstracts of the Proceedings of Second International Conference on Information Technology for Development.

Abstract

Traditionally a high quality education was only available to an elite few, yet the use of the right educational technology has been proven to break the link between quality and exclusivity.

Distance learning specialist The Open University UK (OU) offers respected qualifications on a mass scale in the UK and around the world. Since 1969 the OU has carefully managed a mix of old and new technology to offer students the great education to which they aspire. Around ten times the size of an average brick-built institution, the University has reached over 1.8 million students while maintaining a top five UK ranking for student satisfaction.

Use of technology is not the end goal in itself; rather, the aim is to exploit technology to give students the services they need, from communicating and collaborating with fellow students to submitting assignments securely. Moreover, the appropriate use of technology ensures a high quality experience can be scaled up to reach huge numbers of students. Learning is enhanced by instant feedback, interactive diagrams, online libraries etc.

The latest technology is not always the right solution for the context; the key is to understand what tools will best support students. This is exemplified by our International development work. The OU’s teacher education and health training programmes are designed from scratch to make best use of whatever technology is available in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, India and Bangladesh. From the printed page to videos on low-cost mobile phones, The Open University researches the best way to deliver a quality experience to the huge numbers needing education and training in developing countries.

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