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1. Introduction


One way to consider using technologies meaningfully is to look at teaching through the lens of enhancing teaching practice. Enhancement has to do with making something better. This means that the focus is on the teaching and learning; technologies takes second place as enablers of good teaching practice. This view is very much in line with the Joint Information Systems 2009 report on "Effective Practice in a Digital Age".

It is one thing to see how technologies might be used to enhance teaching and quite another thing to integrate technologies into teaching and learning in such a way that the technologies serve a clear educational purpose that can be explained to students who may not fully appreciate innovative teaching practices. Peter Jones has written an article that will take you through the core concepts for employing technologies in teaching in purposeful manner. Your might start by reading Jones' article (see research articles below). It is worth paying particular attention to his explanation of the concept of alignment. Alignment theory derives from the work of John Biggs who has written many papers on the subject (see research articles below).

If you want a quick start guide to integrating Web 2.0 technologies into your teaching, this online book provides an explanation of Web 2.0 tools that can be used in teaching. Mouse over the image and click to view in full screen mode.


paper_content_pencil_48.png2. Research Articles

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image_add_48.pngBiggs, J. (2008). Aligning Teaching for Constructing Learning. Focus, 16(1), 1-3.
Retrieved from http://learningandteaching.dal.ca/focus2/Vol16No1.pdf

The process of aligning the elements in the teaching process involves ensuring that there are clear and logical relations between the: learning outcomes; teaching and learning activities; and assessment methods. Teaching and learning activities must enable students to achieve the learning outcomes and the assessment must measure whether the learning outcomes have been achieved. It sounds simple but in reality it takes a little time to make sure that the elements in the teaching process are aligned.

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Downes, S. (2005). E-learning 2.0. eLearn Magazine.
Retrieved from http://www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=articles&article=29-1

This early article provides a very good introduction to the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 and discusses the educational implications of a shift to a Web 2.0 read-write Web. Downes sees a shift away from the Web 1.0 content delivery via the Learning Management System to a Web 2.0 content authoring by students. Actual educational practice will, undoubtedly fall somewhere in the middle for a little while yet.

image_add_48.pngDuffy, Peter D. and Bruns, Axel (2006) The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. In: Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006, 26 September. 2006, Brisbane.
Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/5398/

In a ‘socially mobile learning environment’, it is no longer sufficient to use online learning and teaching technologies simply for the delivery of content to students. A ‘digital literacy’ exists where flexible and mobile technologies must be explored for collaborative and (co)creative purposes, as well as for the critical assessment and evaluation of information. This paper will focus on the educational possibilities of blogs, wikis and RSS feeds. Blogs and wikis are two new content development and management technologies that enable an interactive and inter-creative engagement amongst students and between students and teachers. RSS is a technology for syndicating information such as the content of websites. These technologies enable desirable practices such as collaborative content creation, peer assessment, formative evaluation of student work, individual as well as group reflection on learning experiences, and up-to-date information regarding changes in collaborative spaces, and can be used in the development of authentic learning tasks. An overview of each technology will be presented with pragmatic suggestions for their incorporation into the student learning experience.

image_add_48.pngGray, K., Thompson, C., Sheard, J., Clerehan, R., & Hamilton, M. (2010). Students as Web 2.0 Authors: Implications for Assessment Design and Conduct. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 105-122.
Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/gray.html

Web 2.0 tools allow students to demonstrate their learning by creating new forms of content e.g. wiki pages blogs and podcasts. However, the design and conduct of assessment for such student-created content is not straightforward. For example, assessing students' contribution to a collaborative wiki project is not straightforward/less straightforward than assessing a student essay. This paper can help in understanding the challenges of assessing students' Web 2.0 learning.

image_add_48.pngJoint Information Systems Committee. (2009). Effective Practice in a Digital Age: A Guide to Technology-Enhanced Learning and Teaching.
Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/documents/effectivepracticedigitalage.aspx

Effective Practice in a Digital Age is designed for those in further and higher education whose focus is on designing and supporting learning: academic staff, lecturers, tutors and learning support staff, facilitators, learning technologists and staff developers. What unites this diverse group is their interest in enhancing the quality of learning and teaching, and a curiosity about how technology can assist them. As a result of the pervasiveness of technology, the term ‘e-learning’ has come under scrutiny. Personal ownership of technologies coupled with access to social software means that all kinds of learning-related activity can potentially be e-enabled; e-learning can no longer be viewed as a purely institutionally based or narrowly defined set of activities. The 2009 revision to the HEFCE e-Learning Strategy, as a consequence, focuses not so much on e-learning as a specialist area as on the broader aim of ‘enhancing learning and teaching through the use of appropriate technology’. The concept of e-learning is thus becoming subsumed into a wider discussion of how learning can be enhanced by more effective and far-reaching uses of digital technologies.

image_add_48.png Jones, P. (2007). When a Wiki is the Way: Exploring the Use of a Wiki in a Constructively Aligned Learning Design. Paper presented at the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, ICT: Providing Choices for Learners and Learning, Centre for Educational Development, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/jones-p.pdf

The second generation of Web-based tools, the so-called Web 2.0 applications such as podcasts, blogs and wikis, have captured the imagination of many educators, who recognise their potential for creating more collaborative and truly interactive online learning environments. However, whenever new technologies become available, there is a risk that they will be employed on the basis of novelty rather than for sound pedagogical reasons. To ensure that the latest crop of online tools are actually contributing in meaningful ways to the creation of effective and authentic learning environments, educators need to be mindful of the foundations of effective learning design and sound pedagogical principles. This paper explores the use of a wiki in a final year, undergraduate, social work course. Drawing on the concepts of constructive alignment and models for effective learning design, the wiki was integrated into a purposefully designed learning sequence in a manner which allowed students to engage in online collaboration directed at the achievement of a set of intended learning outcomes. In this way, the wiki becomes a fully integrated and coherent part of the learning experience, rather than simply a technological add-on.

image_warning_48.pngLaurillard, D. (2008). The Teacher as Action Researcher: Using Technology to Capture Pedagogic Form. Studies in Higher Education, 33(2), 139-154.
Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075070801915908

The article argues that we make best use of learning technologies if we begin with an understanding of educational problems, and use this analysis to target the solutions we should be demanding from technology. The focus is to address the issue from the perspective of teachers and lecturers (the ‘teaching community’), and to consider how they could become the experimental innovators and reflective practitioners who will use technology well. Teachers could become ‘action researchers’, collaborating to produce their own development of knowledge about teaching with technology. For this to be possible, they must be able to share that knowledge, and the article proposes the use of an online learning activity management system as a way of capturing and sharing the pedagogic forms teachers design. An action research approach, like all research, needs a theoretical framework from which to challenge practice, and the article shows how teachers could use the conversational framework to design and test an optimally effective learning experience. Examples of ‘generic’ learning designs illustrate how such an approach can help the teaching community rethink their teaching, collectively, and embrace the best of conventional and digital methods. In this way they will be more likely to harness technology to the needs of education, rather than simply search for the problems to which the latest technology is a solution.

image_add_48.pngMcLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2010). Personalised and Self Regulated Learning in the Web 2.0 Era: International Exemplars of Innovative Pedagogy Using Social Software. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 28-43.
Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/mcloughlin.html

This is an article about the potential of Web 2.0 tools for student learning. Whilst claims about the learning preferences of digital age students should be read with a critical eye, the paper makes some useful points about the personalised - student centered, self regulated and independent - learning experiences that are made possible by Web 2.0 tools. The paper provides a literature review on personalised learning to justify this approach to teaching (personally meaningful learning experiences). The approach is further justified in terms of students needs (busy and juggling multiple responsibilities) and expectations and with reference to the sorts of skills/attributes that students need to succeed in a Web 2.0 era (21st century employability skills). The authors see the role of the educators as one of supporting and "scaffolding" students through the learning process. It may be useful to approach this paper whilst thinking in concrete terms about a particular subject. For example, what would this model mean for teaching basic science in medicine? What this model mean for teaching architecture to 1st year students?