WED: How can Next Generation Digital Learning Environments fulfil the promise of online education? (Elizabeth Ellis)
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9 January 2017
This multimedia poster session on the theme of Innovation will ask, ‘How can Next Generation Digital Environments embody and execute the promise of online education?’ As the higher education sector comes to terms with the idea that there is probably not a single ‘solution’ to the problems inherent to virtual learning environments (VLEs), the term NGDLE is starting to creep into horizon scanning conversations among learning technologists.
A product of their time, VLEs are increasingly problematic in a more socially networked and digitally confident world. VLEs can often be passive repositories of learning material and grades, guilty of simply putting the offline online, rather than providing immersive personalised learning environments - teaching spaces with their own methods and approaches taking advantage of what the digital world has to offer students.
Now that we are in a Teaching Excellence Framework landscape, how should NGDLEs effectively help students succeed in their academic and professional careers? By providing them with personalised learning experiences and the acquisition of lifelong learning skills (HEFCE, 2016)? Should NGDLEs drive behavioural change in our students and our teaching staff? How can we easily identify the user requirements of an NGDLE?
An ongoing consultation challenge from Jisc poses the question, ‘What should the next generation of digital learning environments do?’ (Jisc, 2016)
Online learning continues to be highly emotive, with those who use technology to teach online often being accused of trying to delete or diminish the human element of learning. Particularly with learning analytics becoming increasingly more mainstream, and the conflation of learning analytics with personal data and privacy concerns, educational technology is under scrutiny from the academic and student communities.
This session will ask:
1) What are NGDLEs?
2) What do NGDLEs mean for online education, and what does it require of it?
3) How can NGDLEs be a vehicle for the best parts of online education: the open web, co-creation, student engagement, technology, and digital capability?
4) What does student success look like in an NGDLE?
5) What do NGDLEs signify about innovation in online education?
Even if there is no single technological leap forward with regards to digital learning environments, NGDLEs could represent a disruptive or incremental innovation in online learning and teaching. As we challenge our students to take more ownership through participative learning, as we encourage our students to become more digitally confident and creative, as we provide our students with the tools for deeper engagement with learning materials and new strategies for immersive learning, and as we continue to help them battle with the ongoing curse and joy of collaborative learning, taking an active stance with regard to the development of future digital learning environments can help improve trust between online learning and teaching evangelists and sceptics, and ultimately improve student attainment, progression and retention.
HEFCE. (2016) ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ [Online]. Available at http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/tef/ (last accessed 5 January 2017)
Jisc. (2016) ‘What should the next generation of digital learning environments do?’ [Online]. Available at https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/get-involved/what-should-the-next-generation-of-digital-learning-environments-do (last accessed 5 January 2017)