Technology has become more and ubiquitous in higher education. Technology allows students to conduct research and analysis, collaborate and communicate, and to create rich multimedia experiences. Interacting with digital learning environments help develop deeper skills like problem solving and critical thinking.
Over the last few weeks, I have introduced myself and started to explore the themes of Technology, Education, and Design. This week I want to describe the meaning of the phrase “learning technology” and some of the context of the work we do in The Learning Technology Center.
I work in the Learning Technology Center (TLC). The LTC is a unit in the Instructional, Communication, and Information Technology (ICIT) Department in the division of Academic Affairs. ICIT focuses on using technology to meet “educational, research, learning, organization, administrative and public service” needs. As part of ICIT, the Learning Technology Center supports faculty and instructional staff. The LTC looks
for ways to integrate pedagogy and technology to develop effective learning experiences.
What is “Learning Technology” and how does the LTC support it?
The Association for Learning Technology defines “Learning Technology as the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that support learning, teaching and assessment”.
Learning technologies support the process, design, and delivery of education. In addition to learning, teaching, and assessment, tools can aid faculty in other ways such as analytics that provide insights into student progress and support data-driven decision-making and intervention. Tools that support research can also be included.
What types of topics fall into the broad category of “learning
Digital Learning Environment The University of Wisconsin System uses a “digital learning environment” to support teaching and learning in all modes. As we have explored over the last few weeks on this blog, the UW-System is moving to Canvas Instructure as that main platform. The LTC supports faculty by providing training and workshops on how to use Canvas, migrate content from D2L to Canvas, and explore specific tools within Canvas. This support extends beyond how to use Canvas and its tools, but promotes the best practices and advocates for sound pedagogical approaches to using those tools.
The digital learning environment extends beyond the Canvas platform. It include other ways to design, develop, and deliver learning materials, interactive experiences, and assessments. For example, multimedia video has been shown to increase student engagement; the LTC has a professional media production and recording studio to help create, manage, and distribute streaming video for classroom use.
Incorporating technology into learning spaces. Higher education increasingly incorporates digital elements into the classroom. Learning technology can support traditional face-to-face classrooms by incorporating digital content or active learning
models. Technology also enables the facilitation of other course modalities, for example, online classrooms or hybrid and blended spaces that fall somewhere in between. More recently, classroom interactions often support multiple devices including mobile smart phones and the use of student response systems.
Evaluating emerging technologies. As new technology emerges, there are different possible applications for classroom use. The LTC supports pilot projects to help
monitor and evaluate trends related to emerging technologies for potential use at the UW-Whitewater campus. Additionally, the LTC supports technology adoptions that meet both instructional and non-instructional needs. For example, the LTC is currently exploring adaptive learning with instructors.
While technology can be fun and shiny and new…we believe that technology should not be used for technology’s sake or because it is considered “fun and shiny and new”! Instead, we believe in understanding the underlying issues and trends, exploring multiple options (including possible low or no tech solutions), implementing strategies, and evaluating their effectiveness.
I hope that this week’s TED Tip elaborates on what “learning technology” means and some of the ways the LTC supports using technology to enhance teaching and learning. Next week I will explore in more detail some of the specific services, workshops, and training opportunities the LTC offers. I invite you to participate!
– Ted Witt
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant