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Unit 2-1

Page history last edited by Gary Motteram 9 years, 5 months ago


Unit 2—Technology in Education: Introduction


The unit aims to develop a shared cultural history of developments in the tradition of distance learning and then to demonstrate a continuum to paradigms that draw on these traditions but see 'distance' as part of onsite contexts too (e.g. through distributed or blended learning approaches). It encourages you to reflect further on the nature of specific technologies for online learning in those contexts. It starts, however, with reflecting on the 'bigger picture' in our national situations, identifying strategies for development in education that may reflect an increasing move towards online learning for varied educational purposes.



  • To investigate national and local 'technology in education' imperatives;
  • To understand developments in distance education;
  • To think further about the relationship between technology affordances and use in online and distance learning initiatives


Unit 2 Organisation

This unit is, therefore, divided into 4 sections covering these areas:

  • technology and education in context: national and local developments;
  • distance–distributed–open learning developments;
  • technology-mediated distance and distributed education: some key issues;
  • application to context


To help chunk the activity these sections are presented as different wiki pages linked together. As a designer I could have used different features in Canvas (or other tools like Blackboard or Moodle) to display materials,  but I wanted to preserve more control over page layout and also closer ownership of my materials in a time of perpetual change within our organisations. I have shifted my materials out into a wiki so that they are open to the world and accessible outside of the institution.


The metaphor of pages suggests a linear progression through content, and tutors at Manchester have debated whether this is a metaphor that we want our courses to adopt. Consequently our online courses all look different, reflecting the way in which course tutors have made decisions about how the environment is being used to facilitate access to content and may also be a feature of the tutors' ways of seeing and understanding the content they are presenting. There is also an issue of what specific tools allow and while ideally I would want to use the wiki in a more wiki-like way -- a collection of materials that are edited and updated by the users -- I have also used the Module format in Canvas (same in Blackboard) to help mange this process and point to different parts of this material.


This relates to a number of concepts we'll be thinking about in some detail presently: technology affordances, tools and learning paradigms, beliefs about teaching and learning. In the current Web 2.0 era, technology developments are beginning to both reflect and possibly influence a different way of constructing knowledge. How this in turn relates to the specific subject matter, to learners and their experience and learning preferences, to ideas that different "cultures" influence the way people learn, to the way we view teaching and learning ourselves are all matters of interest to us.


Finally, this unit works in a slightly different way. Sections provide a longer authored text, with various hyperlinks to jump to as you wish. The intention is not for you to read everything exhaustively; you might skim some of these links and return at a later stage or make specific decisions about what you need/want to read at this point. Recommended reading is built into the guided tasks. The first and final tasks encourage you to share personal perspectives on the discussion forums in Canvas. Task 5 leads to forum discussion but we reserve this until after our next synchronous meeting.


A bibliography for the various references in this unit is provided via the Library reading list service.


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