If technology’s the answer what’s the question; shifting from e-learning to e-teaching

back pain image

A bad back has been useful. I wouldn’t recommend it but enforced rest has been an opportunity for a phd catch up. I can see how doctoral pauses are beneficial. Without realising it’s happening, your brain continues the research process, which includes reflection as much as reading, noting and data collection. Reflection itself is a bit mystical.  Like meditation, you know it works but are not entirely sure how. Since my last burst of phd activity, there have been three areas of work which – with hindsight – I can see have been subconsciously influencing my progress.

TELEDA is reaching the end. The taught period is over and colleagues are compiling their eportfolios for submission in three weeks. This is the time for me revisit the discussion forums and activity wiki. Not only as course evaluation, but as reflection-on-action which is integral to my action research methodology. The second TELEDA module has been approved. This will cover social media for teaching and learning, e-resources and synchronous communication technologies, so as well as concluding TELEDA1, I’m gathering content and revisiting learning design for TELEDA2.

All of which connects nicely with my MOOCing. I’ve been dabbling with Oxford Brookes First Steps in Teaching and Learning FSLT14 and Teaching Online Open Course TOOC14. These have been invaluable for repositioning me as a virtual student with all it entails; getting lost in Moodle, misunderstanding instructions, tackling my own digital shyness and virtual discussions with staff who support teaching and learning online.

The third area is the ongoing VLE Implementation Project. I find myself in a situation familiar from discussions with colleagues in other institutions but new to me – of being project managed. I’m not entirely sure what this involves other than a different way of working and additional staff but all departments other than my own. It seems to be about containers rather than content. A bit like the search for a perfect eportfolio which focuses on function over pedagogy.  But it’s ok. I know everything will be fine. We’ve been here before, have always survived and will do so again. The synchronicity is relevant and useful.  I’m writing a paper revisiting the early rhetorical promise of elearning and how it failed. Because I’m…er… um… older, I remember Dearing and early VLE embedding. Having a formal implementation project is reminiscent of those days when techies talked to techies and staff were told here it is, get on with it. I think, looking back, VLE have always been the technologist’s dreams and the stuff of teacher nightmares.

All this is helping my phd to settle down. Themes are repeating which suggests I’ve found my research area. The pilot interviews have helped too. They’ve reinforced how an information repository model dominates vle use. This view is supported by the Blackboard stats. My research is investigating the influence of teacher education on the shift from campus to online delivery, from inaction to interaction on Blackboard. Upgrading, adding Mobile, Collaborate, Connect and other bells and whistles is fabulous for me. I love the affordances of synchronous communication over traditional barriers of time and distance. I enjoy the challenge of teaching online. What’s missing are the bridges between the technology and the teachers. As Donald Ely wrote in 1995 about the challenges of education for 21st century; technology is the answer – but what was the question?

The answers lie not in the technology itself but in the people who decide about the purpose of its use, the way in which it is used and the manner in which we evaluate the consequences of our decisions. (p16 author emphasis)

Determinism has frequently been the primary driver of technology enhanced learning across the sector. TELEDA and the new Educational Development and Enhancement Unit (EDEU) at Lincoln are opportunities to prioritise the user experience instead. We need to move from inaction to interaction and prioritise e-teaching as much as e-learning.

phoenix rising engraving


phoenix image from http://murraycreek.net/return/book2/wilderpt2.htm

The future is virtual and one of its names is Blackboard

Bb mug

I was in a Blackboard session this week. The plan to show case good practice, to be inspiring, supportive, but the plan failed. Examples of innovation were overshadowed by negative comments about the technology. At great speed the focus turned from positive enhancement to lets knock Blackboard.  It spread like a virus. The potential affordances for learning were unable to break through the Blackboard attack.

Maybe I should have expected it. Lulled with TELEDA and the FSLT MOOC at Oxford Brookes, my immersion in the advantages of VLE have imbued a false sense of security. I worry my ‘I love Blackboard’ campaign will be equally infected.  I’d forgotten the extent to which Blackboard is unpopular.

I love Blackboard #iloveblackboard

No one likes it.  I feel like a lone champion in a world of resentment and frustration. I can quote the negatives; unattractive, clunky, boring, confusing, difficult and students prefer Facebook. I can count the positives on one hand with fingers to spare. Er, um, well, maybe not even that many…

Discussing this with colleagues it was suggested Blackboard is an easy target. It can’t answer back or defend itself so is a useful scapegoat for wider dissatisfactions, not just about the role of technology in higher education but also life, love and the universe.  Sounds possible. Surveys and focus groups tell us students would prefer more consistency across modules but they like rather than dislike their VLE. The anti-Blackboard movement is staff led. I have to ask myself apart from the politics, the rage against the machine and anti-automation movements, what is it about Blackboard which causes hostility and can any of it be changed? Can we get beyond form to function?

I agree some things about Blackboard are a pain. I’m not immune to its failings.  No matter how well you format a course or group email it arrives with odd spacing – this annoys me. It looks like I don’t know how to lay out text. There are still formatting issues with the Content Editor. The notifications don’t pick up new activity in groups. You have to grade a wiki to get notified of new content and this can’t be applied retrospectively.  The blog tool is dull. So is the reflective journal.  Forums aren’t great for large numbers of participants and like most people I think Blackboard could do with a make-over. It doesn’t look as good as it could.


….the majority of UK HE institutions have teams of people managing the Blackboard experience for staff and students. We don’t. This is changing but it will take time to reverse the damage. We have to focus on what matters – the student and staff experience, one which takes the affordances of internet connectivity and utilises them for off campus access to teaching and learning experiences.  Like not judging a book by its cover, we need to move beyond the appearance to what it does.  An ugly pen still writes. Blackboard is accessed by thousands of people every day (including Christmas) and keeping it running takes priority. Once more resource is available we’ll be able to test and pilot tools like Mobile and Collaborate. Maybe reinstate themes so individual appearance can be customised. Explore templates. Enhance the DIY model with central support for content creation. Revisit the social media tools. Promote discovery through case studies and lunch time drop-in sessions. Increase online help and support. And listen to what everyone has to say. I’m happy to hear about all the things which are wrong with Blackboard but let’s make it a two-way communication.  It’s not all bad. The future is virtual and one of its names is Blackboard.


The future is Blackboard on a assortment of mobile devices

Bursting MOOC bubbles are good; time to talk about the value of VLE

bursting bubble from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IkBJU72UN-g/T2A_sxbti7I/AAAAAAAAAwU/IJSOMgz33tQ/s1600/burstbubble.jpg

The MOOC bubble is bursting. See Online Revolution Drifts Off Course or Completion data for MOOC For some time there’s been evidence of a shift in MOOC attitudes eg MOOC Star Professor defects and Professors Won’t Use a Harvard Professor’s MOOC  It will be interesting to watch FutureLearn; the UK HE MOOC consortium’s 36 free online courses.

MOOC have been good for online education. They’re raising key issues around the value of VLE where VLE can be institutional like Blackboard or any combination of free software.  Bursting MOOC bubbles mean it’s time to talk about the big questions. Like do VLE enhance learning? How best can face-to-face practice be transferred? What might digital pedagogy look like?

For me, one of the strengths of the VLE is in widening participation; opening up potentially 24/7 opportunities for those unable to commit to a campus based education. But this can’t happen without appropriate support for the shift of traditional lecture and seminar content to online delivery. VLE need investment in digital literacies, scholarship and pedagogy. UCISA reports into Technology Enhanced Learning show since 2010 the top two barriers to TEL development are lack of time and money. The JISC Digital Literacies Programme released the Summary of the Professional Association Baseline Reports last year showing the main challenges for professionals becoming more digitally expert were lack of time, speed of change and training not being available, timely or relevant.

A lot of staff who teach and support learning at Lincoln have a DIY approach to technology; learning to use it effectively and integrate it into their lives. There are also those who are less confident. The adoption of a DIY model privileges the innovators and risks excluding those unsure about digital change.  Taking the time to do things differently using Blackboard might not seem a viable option when it works doing it without. The issue of self-selection poses a risk. If you’re unsure of your VLE you’re less likely to go to digital workshops or seminars, attend digital technology conferences or apply for research funding in the area of education technology. 

Often there simply isn’t enough time, resource, or role recognition attached to developing digital expertise. One way forward might be to highlight the development of an ethos of support and resource for shifting to digital ways of working.  The University of Lincoln has a new Digital Education Plan. The VLE procurement process has highlighted the need for additional support for virtual teaching and learning. Thanks to the MOOC bubble bursting, there’s renewed interest in what works well and less well in online education. One thing is clear; ‘Staff expertise is the most important asset in a university and without it literally nothing can  be achieved. (Blackmore and Blackwell 2003: 23) I cautiously predict exciting times ahead for Lincoln next year with TELEDA at the heart of discussions about all things pedagogically digital.


Blackmore, P. and Blackwell, R. (2003) ‘Academic roles and relationships’ in R. Blackwell and P. Blackmore (eds) Towards Strategic Staff Development in Higher Education, Berkshire: SRHE and Open University Press pp 16-28 

image from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-IkBJU72UN-g/T2A_sxbti7I/AAAAAAAAAwU/IJSOMgz33tQ/s1600/burstbubble.jpg


Contemplating Failure Part Three

As Blackboard faces upgrading and the procurement process grinds on, Getting Started offers its annual overview of the ways the VLE is used across the university. On a scale from good, less good to not at all. Getting Started has always had differential levels of participation.  I believe the disparity has less to do with attitudes to transition and is more a reflection of the way Blackboard is used across individual practice. As a T&L Coordinator supporting the use of technology, the gaps suggest I’m not doing a very good job. My current downer on all things virtual continues.  Students like their VLE but workshops and surveys suggest differential use between modules and courses is an increasing cause for concern. The question of minimum standards has been mooted although how this would be mandated or policed is less clear. I get despondent over exclusive practices, but there are bigger issues around initial engagement in the first place. Feenberg * may be right. The technology has failed.  As Laurillard ** says we are on the brink of transformation – but have been there for some time.

Maybe if we took the technology away?

My MA in Open and Distance Learning with the OU was delivered online. Four  of six modules used a variety of tools and assessment activities. I chose the last two from social science. Resources were delivered in traditional distance  learning style; cardboard boxes full of cds and books. No online element – not even a discussion. Assignments were posted and returned hand marked. This was not long ago. I learned as much about the affordances of technology to enhance learning, and the power of online communities of shared practice to create new knowledge, by their absence as their presence.

Getting Started is a useful snapshot of VLE engagement. I call for inclusive practice but if Blackboard is not being used, or is a holding place for a collection of Word documents, conversation around TechDis Accessibility Essentials or the DDA/Equality Act is doomed. The gap between my conception of virtual learning and the reality of a VLE as a repository for Word and PowerPoint requires rethinking. Discussions around the Digital Education Strategy need to focus on the low end-user and non-user. Pushing up to blue skies will not address resistance.

Is resistance to Blackboard political or personal? Is it indicative of broader attitudes to internet enabled communication and information? You may as well ask if exclusive practice is deliberate or inadvertent? No one intentionally sets out to exclude. There is  innovative and exciting use of Blackboard across the university but they remain in pockets.  The problem with technology is the divide between those advocating use and those who are the users. The digital divide has less to do with access and more the way access is managed and the continual problem of content being presented in single formats based on assumptions the user can access it. I don’t have the answer in the present economic climate. All I know is in their relationship with technology, people will find their own level and stay there. It might not be effective or inclusive – but without increased human resource and ring fenced funding to support change – the current situation of good, less good or not at all is probably about as good as it gets.


* Feenburg, A. (2011) Agency and Citizenship in a Technological Society http://www.sfu.ca/~andrewf/copen5-1.pdf

** Laurillard, D. (2008) Digital technologies and their role in achieving our ambitions for education  http://eprints.ioe.ac.uk/628/1/Laurillard2008Digital_technologies.pdf

Failure is not an Option! http://suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2013/06/02/failure-is-not-an-option/


Failure is not an option!

There’s a new thread running through my PhD reading and reflection; how little has changed with ‘e-learning’. In the digital education world, innovators and technologists have raced ahead – buoyed with project funding – reinventing multiple wheels and embracing the new affordances of social media, demonstrating their connectivism from tweeting cliques – while many more staff remain excluded from the mysteries of social media and virtuality, following the traditional lecture/seminar models and wishing learning technology would quietly leave the building. I find myself somewhere between the two. I’ve been reading Feenburg (see the PhD page) In the ninth of his ten paradoxes of technology, the co-construction of technology and society and resulting feedback loops are demonstrated through Esher’s print ‘Drawing Hands’. Like a Mobious Strip, or the chicken and the egg question, the print confuses our expectations of order. It reminds me of the VLE – the only way to learn it is to use it but how can we use it without supporting the learning? 

Escher print Drawing Hands

When VLE’s were first embedded into university systems there were expectations of adoption and use e.g.HEFEC’s Technology Enhanced Learning Strategy full of the rhetoric of transformation. Over on the Phd page I’ve quoted Feenburg who said in 2011 ‘the promise of virtual learning in the 1990s has come to nothing and elearning within the university has failed’. I’d suggest it hasn’t failed; more not worked out as well as it could have done. I’m a learning technologist with a remit to support virtual pedagogy. Failure is not an option. I still believe in the affordances of technology – access beyond the barriers of time and distance – and the potential power of online communication and collaboration to create communities of shared practice where learning takes off and runs. The best way forward is working directly with teachers and learning developers on how best to enable their own digital scholarship and literacies. There’s no secret to effective online learning. We know what works. Give staff time, space and incentivisation to adopt digital ways of working alongside a reliable knowledgeable support system – and they will – the TELEDA course shows enthusiasm and interest is there. What’s missing is the time, space and incentivisation – and a support system robust enough to reach across the schools and departments. The reason the OU do it so well is the resource they put into it. The reasons other institutions do it less well is their DIY approach to technology; elearning hasn’t failed, it just needs a different strategic approach to innovation.

Reading the literature around technology and society is to visit some gloomy, pessimistic viewpoints. I agree technology is devisive. Access to technological resources can be seen to replicate wider social structures of disadvantage and marginalisation. But I need to be optimistic.  I don’t see technology for education as necessarily essentialist – or as Douglas Kellner says in his response to Feenburg’s book Questioning Technology –‘…having a primary dimension which is functional…instrumental, decontextualizing, reductive, autonomising and determinist.’  P161-2. Those who interpret it this way miss the creative potential of the user.  I remain positive. Given the time, space and incentivisation to integrate and contextualise the use of technology, it can be enriching rather than dominating and reductive.

This is my motivation for adopting an action research methodology for my research  one which invites staff to participate in a process which seeks to improve relationships with an institutional VLE. I believe without investment into the staff who use it, who are best placed to say how they could use it more effectively, there can be no freedom from the loop of resistance. Without participatory research into the staff experience, resistance to the VLE will continue, it will be negatively critiqued, and used on a ‘needs-must-if-at-all’ basis. I do believe VLEs can be used effectively to enhance teaching and learning for on campus students and provide a valid alternative for those learning in isolation at a distance. I also believe staff are excited by the potential of new digital media but lack the opportunities to develop the new ways of thinking and managing their practice. The pilot run of Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age is already suggesting this. The challenge now is to investigate how best to manage this process before the next academic year.


Feenberg, A. (2010). Ten paradoxes of technology. Techné, 14(1): 3-15.

Feenburg, A. (2011) Agency and Citizenship in a Technological Society http://www.sfu.ca/~andrewf/copen5-1.pdf

Kellner, D. (2001) Feenberg’s Questioning Technology in Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 18(1): 155-162, 2001.

‘VLEs are being used as a tool for social control by post industrial capitalism’. Discuss.

I get protective about Blackboard. As a system administrator and advocate of the potential for VLE to cross boundaries of time and distance, I’m easily irritated with comments like ‘VLEs are being used as a tool for social control by post industrial capitalism’. I was given this blog post  Zombies, Technology and Capitalism http://digitalscholar.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/zombies-technology-capitalism/ in a phd supervision meeting; I guess to see my response. Here it is.

Grounds for the statement? It seems VLEs ‘…replace face-t0-face ‘human’ learning with undead digital teaching….have rapidly spread across the sector (virally?) without being explicitly demanded by either teachers or students….the embedded pedagogy of these VLEs is restrictive and they offer a level of social control and conformity not possible with more traditional teaching practices’.

Mmmm….quite an indictment of my role as Learning and Teaching Coordinator, supporting staff to make effective use of technology to support their students. The author is writing a book chapter for an interdisciplinary anthology Zombies in the Academy: living death in higher education. http://zombieacademy.wordpress.com/cfp/ which seeks to offer ‘critical accounts of the contemporary university as a living dead culture.’ So, extending the referential signifier of a cultural trope into a previously unused location? Or alternatively, finding a new way to package and sell a product?

I hope our chapter doesn’t fall into a lazy F2F good/ online bad dualism.’ writes the author in reply to a comment supporting VLEs.

Me too. I hope the language of technological determinism is used to praise as well as condemn.  I hope it recognises the problem is less about how VLEs weren’t ‘explicitly demanded by either teachers or students’ and more about how we were simply expected to know how to use them. From the start, priority was given to embedding the systems. The poor practice, which gets dragged out repeatedly, derives as much from insufficient access to specialist learning-technology resources, and support for the shift from f2f to digital pedagogy, as any desire to impose social control and conformity.

We need to be reminded of potential affordances alongside over-publicised failings. People are quick to criticise and slow to praise. Focusing on the ‘level of managerial control afforded by VLEs over F2F’ is to miss their opportunities for flexible and distance learning, widening participation, crossing boundaries of time and distance, sharing practice and creating networks for knowledge collaboration and exchange. The blame is unfair. Saying the VLE replaces ‘face-to-face ‘human’ learning with undead digital teaching’ is to criticise the daily reality of thousands of academic and professional service staff across the sector, making the best of the tools in their hands to enhance learning opportunities for their students. Effective online learning is a specialism yet staff are expected to  demonstrate competence regardless of their own subject expertise. There are answers such as embedding digital scholarship into teacher education programmes, offering small amounts of development funding for digital enhancement, treating digital literacies as equal to text literacy and numeracy. What doesn’t help is to replicate and reinforce the same old tired arguments.  Alignment with zombie culture is neither clever nor witty; it’s discourteous and unkind.


Here are some useful reminders of how it all began.

Flying not flapping: a strategic framework for e-learning and pedagogical innovation in higher education institutions by Gilly Salmon (2005) http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/beyond-distance-research-alliance/mediazoo/media/Flying%20not%20flapping.pdf

Implementing a learning technology strategy: top–down strategy meets bottom–up culture by Bernard Lisewski (2004)  http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/coaction/index.php/rlt/article/viewFile/11250/12943


Digital literacy: pluralised and complex

A recent Edudemic post addresses the non-use of teaching technology.   The reference to teachers who are ‘not comfortable with technology’ resonated. They may be more of them than is often realised. Change is always a challenge and adoption of technology for teaching requires major shifts in practice. Support for the process is essential, either through staff development or teacher education.  The Edudemic post claims the amount spent on technology for schools in the US is rising while professional development budgets are decreasing or non-existent. Here in the UK, it can sometimes seem resourcing for staff engagement with technology is not sufficiently prioritised. Competition for funds has never been greater yet digital literacy has not only become plural it’s become complicated. Keeping up to date with is hard enough when you work with the technology. For those at the far end of the digital spectrum, it can seem impossible to even know where to begin.

There is a growing need to support staff to use technology effectively. Without investing in resources to bridge the divide between teaching and technology, staff cannot develop the prerequisite confidence with virtual learning environments.  Embedding OER Practice at Lincoln, now in its final weeks, showed how staff engagement with the internet for teaching and learning doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens with appropriate targeted support, customised to suit individual disciplines and personalities. It works best within small groups of shared practice and requires initial scaffolding which can be withdrawn for use elsewhere as the affordances of being online are realised and the necessary skills and competencies embedded into day to day practices.  The review into the future of the institutional VLE offers an appropriate opportunity to also review the way in which digital literacies are defined and resourced across the university.  The internet and all its associated tools for learning are not going away any time soon. The more we invest in their use the better that use will be.

Student Rep Conference meets Student as Producer

The Student Rep’s Conference (2nd March) provided space for students and staff to talk to each other. I hope there’ll be lots of dissemination in online/offline student/staff publications because it was worth it. It’s not that students and staff don’t talk to each other – they do – in lots of different ways – but this event raised the quality of those conversations.

In the afternoon students talked about Student as Producer; the Lincoln led, cross-institutional, project which looks to redesign the curriculum along the lines of research engaged teaching. It’s like UROS has become infectious and spread across the university. Under Student as Producer, the opportunity to apply for a bursary to undertake a UROS project has been reintroduced (closing date 11 March see http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/funding for details) but the real value lies in plans for restructuring teaching and learning. This is less radical than the language used to describe it. Teaching informed by and engaged with research is not new. The only difference is Student as Producer raises its profile and emphasises research as the primary organising principle of practice.

I’m reminded of a parallel movement across the sector a decade ago;  the push for embedding virtual learning environments. It reminds me because Student as Producer can appear on first encounter as something new and radical, almost verging on unsafe because of the revolutionary language it inspires.  But looking back over the history of technology in education, you see a similar mixture of adoption of new ways of working. Before Dearing, people were already engaging with digital environments, in the way that teaching already engages with research. What’s needed is time. Adoption of innovation is often less about changing practice and more a shift in emphasis on what people are already doing.  

Using Roger’s model of diffusions of innovation, Student As Producer is currently with the innovators and early adopters. As it spreads out across the university via events like the Student Reps Conference, and the Festival of Learning planned for the end of March (details here http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/events) it will pick up more interest from whose practice already aligns with its organising principles. It’s  ‘stickiness’ will increase until the tipping point  is reached. You can see this with technology enhanced learning. At Lincoln, the push towards adopting the institutional VLE has finally got there. Recent surveys conducted by the Student Union and CERD suggest a high level of embedding of Blackboard into daily practice. This has taken time but the shift has happened. Student as Producer is in its early days but given time it will become as ubiquitous as Blackboard has done alongside all its potential opportunities for enhancing the experience of teaching and learning across the whole institution.

VLE v web 2.0

The debate over digital learning platforms in HE often focuses on the choice of technology. It misses issues around supporting engagement with digital learning and the production of quality assured, inclusive content. Those involved in the VLE v Web 2.0 discussions should look backwards as well as forwards. A decade ago, in the wake of the Dearing report into the future of higher education, and the government’s Harnessing Technology,  funds were made available to embed VLEs across the sector, but with little attention to the resource implications for staff. Failure to see the resourcing of virtual learning as important as the provision is with us still. In 2009 we are in strikingly similar position to that of ten years ago. The Edgeless University and the government’s Digital Britain report advocate increased reliance on internet based communication and opportunities for virtual higher education experiences. JISC supports a greater use of Web 2.0 type technologies as appropriate tools for meeting the diverse needs of an ever increasing diversity of students. As budgets are cut it’s perhaps inevitable that the question of value for money is raised.

The death of the VLE headline is not new but criticism can be skewed and fail to reflect the wider picture. The source is often from the 3Cs corner; Computer Confident and Competent where a RTFM philosophy (or in these days WTFV) only serves to widen the digital divide. Narrowing the gap between those comfortable with a keyboard and those still at the pen end of the digital continuum should be a priority.

The old fashioned and clunky VLE may be uninspiring to some but for the majority it is a prerequisite to engagement and offers a ‘way in’. Web 2.0 tools require digital literacy and that takes time to learn. We are far from a situation where these skills are universal. Whether a VLE is replaced by PLEs made up of learners own preferences, or an institutionally provided set of customisable tools, there will still be a requirement for an entry level environment that enables rather than disables both staff and students. The support implications, and their cost, of any virtual learning platform should be a key issue. Without this there is little chance of encouraging the levels of digital engagement required for the virtual provision of high quality and inclusive higher education experiences.

vote for the VLE

Last weeks THES ran an article on the demise of virtual worlds in HE. I have mixed feelings about this. Earlier in the year I attended a conference in Second Life (http://tiny.cc/kmEkQ and http://tiny.cc/PSYaw) and concluded it had the potential to provide a powerful learning experience but this had to be offset by problems with access. While many UK universities have an SL campus it was rare to visit and meet anyone. Similarly with recreations of cities or simulations designed to raise awareness of issues such as schizophrenia; dressing up in a toga in ancient Rome may be great fun initially but the experience is fundamentally unsustainable. I don’t know what the current usage is but in a similar BBC article a few weeks earlier, Technology, Twitter and the downturn, says SL traffic has declined by 67%.

The THES article quotes Dr Lowendahl as saying lecture capture and retrieval is taking over from podcasting and elearning repositories. Podcasting always was problematic in terms of access as transcripts were rarely made available, as were elearning repositories with no quality assurance and/or attention to inclusive practice. While the traditional lecture transitions poorly to an online environment the idea of capturing and indexing may be a step forward but I wonder who will take on those roles not to mention quality assure and make accessible 50 minutes of videowith associated captions/subtitles/textual alternatives?  Moving on, Dr Lowendahl also says that e-books are currently top ‘of the peak of inflated expectations’ in 2009. Concerns about ebooks and readers are well documented here on this blog.

So I wonder what predictions can be made for technology enhanced learning in 2010? Well, here’s one.  How about using more effectively the tools we already have? The good old VLE, now embedded within systems and support, provides a virtual platform for the delivery of a range of innovative digital content for teaching and learning. It may be solid and a little clunky. It may not be very exciting to play with. But it’s reliable and it does what it says on the tin. What more is needed?