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Technology Enhanced Learning

There has been much written on the subject of how information and communications technologies (ICT) can best support educational processes (Laurillard, 1993; Ellington, Percival & Race, 1993); French et al, 1999; Fry et al, 1999; McConnell, 2000). Often, ICT approaches are illustrated that replace or support various types of teaching, for example collaborative learning, small group work, project work, ‘self-directed’ or ‘independent’ student learning, and so on.  We have compiled a list of reviews and case studies for a range of generic ICT tools . However, the functionality offered by such tools needs to be considered as a component of a course, appropriate to the purpose of the course and the type of learning in which the students are expected to engage.

Table 3 serves to illustrate the use of typical course components to develop adoptive and adaptive learning outcomes (as defined in Table 2). In particular, we have made distinctions between learning resources, learning support and assessment methods across both forms of learning using examples from both traditional and ICT-based methods. The choice and combination of methods and components, coupled to the assessment practices, will determine, or preferably be determined by, the bias of the course towards adoptive or adaptive learning. (Examples of bias are illustrated in the course profile grids shown in appendix 1). A strongly adaptive learning course, which aims to develop students’ higher order cognitive skills, would typically be based around the students’ perspectives to particular subject material and approaches to study and research of the topic. This might involve sharing ideas and work, orally and written, through debate and discussion with peer and tutors.

  Learning Resources Learning Support Assessment Integration medium
Provision of course content & learning resources Feedback & guidance on the knowledge & practice of .. (see Table 2)  


Traditional Lectures, Guidance notes, Books, Journals Seminars, Group classes, Lab work EssaysWork/lab books, Multiple choice tests
ICT-based Web-based resources
CAL, simulations,Bibliographic databases, Internet sites
Interactive CAL, Simulations, Applications software E.g. spreadsheets, statistical or textual analysis, CAD, 3-D modelling, multimedia Electronic marking Computerised tests CAL, simulations (that include marking)
Availability of published & peers' work  and debate Feedback & guidance on the formation & generation of .. (see Table 2)  
Traditional Discussion of work in progress Distribution of marked work Seminars Group classes
Problem classes
Essays, Reflective journals, Lab reports, Group work


Web publishing, Discussion archives

Web publishing & commenting, Email lists & newsgroups, Discussion boards, Conferencing packages

Published work, Discussion contributions

Table 3: Integrating traditional and ICT-based learning resources and learning support

The potential benefits of ICT in courses have been shown over the years to be difficult to demonstrate unless the types of learning the course intends to support are made explicit. Cost-benefits of using technology above traditional methods can only be evaluated properly when the intended aims of the ICT intervention have been identified. Firstly, a clear overview is needed of the learning processes required for the students to achieve specific learning outcomes and develop specific capabilities. Without this framework, there is a tendency for ICT methods and use of materials to be “bolt-on”, time-consuming to develop or implement, and the learning gains often remain unclear or dubious. With or without technology, identifying learning processes, and the appropriate corresponding assignments, support activities and resources, assists in enhancing the quality and cost-benefits of a course. Secondly, the overall cost-effectiveness of integrating ICT will depend on practical factors, such as the level of existing IT infrastructure, the need for remote access for some or all students, availability of course resources, timetabling and marking limitations, feasibility of distributing work, and so on.