Technology in the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Context

Price, Linda and Kirkwood, Adrian (2008). Technology in the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Context. In: Scott, Shelleyann and Dixon, Kathryn C. eds. The Globalised University: Trends and Challenges in Teaching and Learning. Perth: Black Swan Press, pp. 83–113.


Frequently, university-wide strategic decisions about technology are made without fully understanding the implications for resources, administration, teaching programmes, teaching practices and learning approaches, often resulting in technology-led course designs. Yet evidence shows that it is not the technology per se that changes learning and teaching but the pedagogical advantage we make of its use. In parallel, professional development programmes have largely focused on how to use the technology, resulting in replication or supplement of existing teaching practices, as opposed to transforming learning. In particular, the lack of specific context and reflection in professional development programmes can lead to a poor understanding of how and why students use technology effectively in learning. This requires a rethink of how we support initiatives that use technology in learning and teaching. Professional development programmes need to focus not only on the individual teacher, but also on support staff, departmental, and senior managers, so that appropriate policies, supporting structures and resources are in place for effective technology use. This chapter critiques these issues in the context of higher education in the United Kingdom and examines the political drivers that have pushed for the use of information communication technology (ICT) in learning and teaching. It considers this in the context of the United Kingdom Open University and how this institution has addressed some of the issues highlighted. Finally, a framework for professional development to support ICT in learning and teaching is presented aimed at holistically improving the student learning experience. This framework incorporates not only individual staff but also faculty and institutional management.

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