TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING: A STORY FROM HIGHER EDUCATION IN IRELAND
Increases in class sizes combined with significant cutbacks in budgets have resulted in staff in higher education being asked to “do more with less”. The aim of this paper is to highlight how technology is being used to address pedagogical and logistical challenges in higher education in Ireland. Data was collected for this study from five different colleges across the higher education sector. A qualitative approach was taken and semi-structured interviews were held with eight academic staff. Common pedagogical challenges were identified from the interviews: large class sizes, the implementation of collaborative learning, assessment and provision of timely feedback. Several different technologies were examined in this research as practical solutions to the aforementioned challenges; on-line quizzes, wikis, on-line peer evaluation, Youtube, screen casting and audio feedback. Results of the research revealed positive feedback from the staff, with regard to the benefits of these technologies and an increased appetite for use of other technologies in the future. Furthermore research illustrated that with minimal training for the staff, significant efficiencies can be obtained in these key areas of higher education. Future research would be to expand the number of academic staff and institutes involved in this study and examine the implementation of a training programme for staff on technology enhanced learning. Furthermore, future research should also investigate the impact of these technologies on the student learning experience.
There are several examples in the literature of web 2.0 technologies. The study focuses on solving pedagogical problems in learning and teaching, rather than just the promotion of emerging technologies. This research adds to the existing research into web 2.0 technologies by providing real applications of these technologies to pedagogical challenges in higher education.