Teaching

In 1999, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that 50% of young British people would be receiving HE by 2010 (BBC, 1999). In 1999, Blackboard – an innovation that could facilitate the practical “massification” of HE – was two years old. The introduction of fees, the call for widened HE, and the presence of mass delivery-capable teaching technologies are interpretable as a triadic symbiosis: market-capitalist incentives, ideological/social push, and technological pull. Arthur (2006, p. 241) made a synoptic analysis of HE’s transformation: “globalisation of higher education implies the application of market forces towards increased individualisation, competition, and a closer link with the world of business.”

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Peterson and Warwick (2015) argue that global technologies represent a major form (and, by implication, force) of globalisation, so are indispensable to global learning. Because constructivist, student-centred notions of learning dominate global citizenship education, the learning environment has attracted scrutiny: alongside physical spaces, “specialist spaces” have been suggested (Rudd et al, 2009). These are digital technologies, typically social media resources that allow diffusely located students to interact.

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According to Ryan and Tilbury (2013), pedagogic flexibility is tied to digital education; academia is under pressure to broaden learning opportunities (Barnett, 2014). “Blended learning” describes a mixture of face-to-face/on-site classroom and virtual learning (Pokorny and Warren, 2016). Alternative names include “hybrid learning” and “flexible learning”. Interestingly for this research, Rouse (2010) uses the term “distributed learning” to describe learning that is ICT-mediated but involves any form of physical interaction. Blended learning is intrinsically ICT-facilitated but not ICT exclusive. (“Distance learning”, on the other hand, is entirely remote and, these days, inevitably occurs in virtual learning space.)

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In 2018 (when the thesis from which this content derives was written), the embeddedness of ICTs in HE was extensive. Then (and more so today in 2020), uncountable applications were available. However, three broad categories can enclose the more common applications: institutional digital infrastructure, tools of andragogy, and creation and sharing tools (the following figure contains popular examples of each). These categories are porous: applications such as Moodle and Blackboard are both infrastructural and teaching-facilitative (they are for this reason often labelled “LMS” – Learning Management Systems).

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This is the first of two theories that are specific to online learning.

Connectivism theorises self-directed, network-organised learning (Harasim and Smith, 1994). Its principles are therefore not extensible to non-digital pedagogy. “Connectivism” was coined by Siemens in 2004. It has yet to acquire an empirical basis.

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Whereas behaviourism emphasises stimulus-response, programmed learning sequences, purposefully limited cognitive input and output, and technologies that function according to the principles of instructional design, constructivism differs both epistemologically and theoretically. Constructivist knowledge grows through development (Piaget) and/or sociocultural interaction (Vygotsky). The outputs of both processes are thinking, knowledge, and language-based understanding. Central to constructivism are the role of the learner vis-à-vis the environment and the maturation process and the possibility of achieving “holistic” learning (Jarvis et al, 2003, p. 43)

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Pavlovian classical conditioning concerns the matching of stimulus to involuntary effects. After experiencing a routine of meals heralded by the ringing of a bell, an animal eventually salivates at the ring of a bell, whether or not a meal is simultaneously provided. This form of conditioning produces physical, reflex-like responses to non-physiological triggering events.

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