The business of finding e-learning solutions to educational needs and problems is not always straightforward. With e-learning comes new issues and responsibilities for curriculum development and the student learning experience. To this end, there is significant value in establishing a set of values and principles that draw on existing strategies and objectives, to which e-learning developments aimed at enhancing teaching and learning, could adhere.
The aims and targets of the University’s mission and L&T strategy have links with widening participation, equal opportunities, human resources, estates, e-learning and information agendas. In brief, these relate to extending our skills provision, maintaining excellence, research-led teaching and extending innovation, and are aligned with HEFCE’s key objective of developing, maintaining and enhancing higher quality in learning and teaching.
Whilst recognising the need for fully developing disciplinary knowledge and techniques, approaches to teaching and learning in higher education are shifting. To satisfy the above objectives, there is a move towards increased interactivity in the learning process, a change of role of the lecturer as facilitator of learning, the need for students to gain high level information literacy skills and team working abilities, and the use of pedagogies that support critical and original thinking as learning outcomes, favouring knowledge construction above knowledge acquisition.
Skills have become a major area of curriculum development in higher education, as a means to identify and develop a set of generic, higher level capabilities expected a university graduate. In terms of learning design, this translates to finding inclusive ways to develop students’ as independent, critical thinkers and team players within their chosen discipline. These capabilities are also of immense benefit in lifelong learning and employability more broadly.
If these generic and ‘high level’ learning capabilities are to be developed by students, emphasis must shift in the teaching approach from a didactic model to a dialogic model. Learning through engagement and collaboration is favoured over learning through acquisition of information imparted from the lecturer and readings.