Process of change in teaching and learning in higher education : integrating information and communication technology
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The focus of this thesis was inspired by a small study investigating the way in which students could learn co-operatively using computer-mediated communication. Lessons learnt about the significance of purpose, context, nature and design of courses involving Information and Communication Technology (ICT) led to the idea that a holistic view, involving the study of all aspects that contribute to the whole context, would be necessary to reach a better understanding of the process of change in teaching and learning. The opportunity to pursue this route materialised by being part of a team on a national, ESRC funded, project to undertake in-depth qualitative research in sixteen UK universities to explore innovations in teaching and learning. Questions regarding motivation for innovation as well as factors that promote or inhibit this process were posed to innovators and managers. Distance Learning methodologies involving ICT and a student-centred learning ethos were beginning to evolve in campus-based universities. As a result of progressive focusing the Open University was included as a case study and this research has formed the largest part of the thesis. The OU allowed further exploration into the emerging issues which included institutional culture, frameworks, policy and strategies employed to initiate and implement change in teaching and learning. The ways in which individuals or groups negotiate and initiate change were also investigated by two in-depth mini-case studies involving course teams in the process of developing new courses. Topdown and bottom-up perspectives from central managers and course team members contributed to this section. Finally, implementation aspects from one of the mini-case studies - an internet-based technology degree course - were explored. This produced some powerful insights into the whole process of change involving new technologies. The speed of internet development and global interest in exploiting the potential of ICT in education and training has resulted in pressure on institutions from national policy, funding bodies, market competition and individual educational innovators to move towards the integration of ICT in higher education provision. The findings, which indicate the need for flexibility, collaboration and continual evaluation and development, could assist institutions who have begun making this move.
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