Monday, 5 May 2014

Is time to think again about taking the T out of TEL? #ocTEL

Earlier last week I came across a post that Kathrine Jensen had written last year when taking #ocTEL for the first time. In the comments someone had referred to a conversation on Twitter where it was suggested we take the T out of TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning)

It took a bit of detective work but I found the originator of this quote - Alejandro Armellini  also taking the course at the time. This was his big question: 

Image source: Public Domain CC

It left me thinking.....
Technology Enhanced Learning has in many areas replaced the term 

e-Learning where 'e' referred to electronic and is defined in Wikipedia as: 

'The use of electronic media and information and communication technologies'

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in their revised e-learning strategy (2009) define TEL as:
‘Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology’

As educators and for all the right reasons we often say technology should not come first. Putting pedagogy before technology is now somewhat of a mantra. Steve Wheeler quotes Michael Fullan:

'Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator' 

Michael Fullan

When you look more closely and scrutinise the phrase 'technology enhanced learning' just doesn't quite sit right. It is not the technology directly that enhances the learning but the pedagogy and learning approach. We know that learning can be enhanced in many different ways. Is it right therefore to emphasise technology first? Alejandro argues that this should be transparent.

The call to remove the 'technology' or the T out of TEL and to focus on the enhancement of learning is therefore something to consider. This would actually brings us back again to e-learning, but this time placing the emphasis on a capital E for enhanced and therefore seen as Enhanced Learning


HEFCE (2009) Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology 
A revised approach to HEFCE’s strategy for e-learning.

Higher Education Academy (2009) Transforming higher education through technology enhanced learning 

Kirkwood, A. and Price, L. (2014). Technology-enhanced learning and teaching in higher education: what is ‘enhanced’ and how do we know? A critical literature review. Learning, Media and Technology, 39(1) pp. 6–36.

Wheeler, S. (2014) Learning First, Technology Second

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Information overload or filter failure? The value of learning in small groups. #ocTEL


So I got my first badge :-) I am down on the fourth row in the middle. This is the Check-In badge and allows me to now move on to earn my TEL One badge. For this I had to complete an activity which was to record my reflections. I did this in my previous blog post and have now submitted a link to it. I guess someone will now verify this at some point and I will then hear if it meets the grade!

Controlling the flow of email

I've added this video as a reminder to adjust my settings for email notifications. Big thanks to Martin Hawksey for doing this, it made the task much easier. Too much information can be de-motivating and unmanageable.

It also served to remind how useful short screencasts are to help someone though a new task. I must look at my own practice and see how they would add value. It's so useful to be able to play a short video on your phone whilst attending to the task in hand on your PC or laptop, as opposed to flipping back and forth between two screens. 

A second consideration is building your personal learning network. They will help to filter the noise and guide you to valuable learning resources. 

Learning in


Our task for #ocTEL Week 0 included 

With one or more fellow participants, organise a period of reflection and discussion over two or three days and see if you can arrive at a shared view of:
  • What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?
  • What challenges does this present for the course?
  • In what ways is a MOOC like this one well or poorly suited to these challenges?
I have joined a group in the course site 'ocTEL CMALT' which aims to help those looking to complete certified membership of ALT by using the experience of #ocTEL as part of our evidence of learning. A discussion of the above questions is something I have contributed to. In addition I have set up a Yammer group and invited colleagues taking the course at my university to join. This will provide us a space to reflect and share our learning. 

I'm not sure how many are participating in #ocTEL but given the Twitter stream there are a lot! With so many voices it is not surprising that people start to feel lost in the noise. What is crucial is to make the best of this learning experience. This can be helped by making small sub groups where you can engage in a conversation and be heard. This can be determined by geographic location or by topic. This is something I would recommend for all online learning courses. Getting individuals to buddy up or form groups is a valuable element of the orientation process and an opportunity to build a support network.