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Chair: Martin Oliver

Problem solving research: Disruptive technologies in higher education -- 42 -- Proceedings Paper
September 11 11:30AM

This paper analyses the role of ‘disruptive’ innovative technologies in higher education. In this country and elsewhere, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have invested significant sums in learning technologies, with Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) being more or less universal, but these technologies have not been universally adopted and used by students and staff. Instead, other technologies not owned or controlled by HEIs are widely used to support learning and teaching. According to Christensen's theory of Disruptive Innovation (1997, 2003), these disruptive technologies are not designed explicitly to support learning and teaching in higher education, but have educational potential.

This study uses Activity Theory and Expansive Learning (Engestrom 1987, 2001) to analyse data regarding the impact of disruptive technologies. The data were obtained through a questionnaire survey about awareness and use of technologies, and through observation and interviews, exploring participants’ actual practice.

The survey answers tended to endorse Disruptive Innovation theory, with participants establishing meanings for technologies through their use of them, rather than in keeping with a designer's intentions. Observation revealed that learners use a narrow range of technologies to support learning, but with a tendency to use resources other than those supplied by their HEIs. Interviews showed that participants use simple and convenient technologies to support their learning and teaching.

This study identifies a contradiction between learning technologies made available by HEIs, and technologies used in practice. There is no evidence to suggest that a wide range of technologies is being used to support learning and teaching. Instead, a small range of technologies is being used for a wide range of tasks. Students and lecturers are not dependent on their HEIs to support learning and teaching. Instead, they self-select technologies, with use weighted towards established brands. The use of technologies outside HEIs has implications for the monitoring of learning and teaching, and for the role of HEIs, which are no longer the gatekeepers to knowledge.


Problem solving research: Preparing the foundations for video-based practice-placement support: establishing the role from a students’ perspective. -- 230 -- Proceedings Paper
September 11 11:30AM

Currently, many placement-based, health programme students within the United Kingdom are supported through face-to-face visits from University staff. These visits are conducted by academic staff to placement locations at considerable cost to programmes with large cohorts.

Whilst cited in literature as being of value, the face-to-face nature of this contact is not supported. Previous research has investigated the feasibility of using video-based communications to support students in wide ranging locations. The potential benefits of providing cost effective and environmentally responsible support to students has led to further consideration of the fitness for purpose of this strategy in the context of health programmes. However, many higher education programmes involve practice-based learning, often in distant locations. As such, this strategy offers the potential for frequent, easy access support for international, distant or remote placement locations for a wide range of subject areas. It is felt that the findings of this study will be of interest to anyone involved in curriculum planning for practice-based learning.

Current institutional and Government drivers encourage the introduction of technologies into the curriculum. However, following earlier research, it was felt to be necessary to investigate the fitness for purpose of video-based communications in the support of individual practice-based students. In order to predict the fitness for purpose of this medium in this role, the current role and purpose of clinical visits in supporting the student needed to be established. In the context of increasing importance of the student voice in curriculum planning, this project aimed to investigate student perceptions of the ideal content and purpose of clinical support visits, and alternatives to the current face-to-face approach.

The study involved Physiotherapy undergraduate students from years 2 and 3 of the programme. 56 students responded to initial questionnaires with a further 9 participating in a follow up focus group. Study results indicated perceived value in the clinical visit for the purpose of motivation, directing and focusing learning and providing opportunities to resolve arising issues. However, questionnaire responses indicated concerns over changes to the face-to-face format, particularly for failing placements. Focus group participants discussed reasons behind this, highlighting the importance of personal and professional confidence in directing requirements for support. Participants went on to propose a “menu” of support options including face-to-face, telephone, email and video-based communications, to be agreed between all involved on the basis of individual need and placement progress.

Video based communications are discussed as having limitations for some placement support content. However, the technology may offer benefits to students requiring multiple visits or engaging with currently unsupported international placements. Further investigation into the difference between face-to-face and video-based communications is advocated in the context of ensuring quality of the student experience.


Blackboard: Blackboard: enhancing student engagement -- 801 -- Sponsor Session
September 12 3:55PM

Education is changing. Universities and colleges face multiple challenges as they position themselves for the future. As an organisation, they face increasing competition, need to show improving results, keep students engaged, and leverage all IT investments to support new solution demand; all with tight budgets. At the same time, they face today's student. Students live in a world of social media, instant access to information and on-demand service. The competition to attract and meet their demands, reach beyond simply technology and teaching. Today, student expectations are high, they assume you will deliver 24/7 service, Facebook-type eLearning interfaces, and course materials to their mobile devices.

Join us in this session to learn how Blackboard can help universities and colleges to enhance student engagement. In this session, we will highlight how Blackboard's solutions fit in the student engagement spectrum - from event-driven, on demand, to needs anticipated engagement - offering an integrated set of solutions that focus on the student experience. We will be covering Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Mobile, Blackboard Connect, and the all new Blackboard Collaborate 12 for anywhere, anytime mobile learning. We look forward to seeing you there!