How to Foster Technology-Enhanced Learning in Higher Education

How to Foster Technology-Enhanced Learning in Higher Education

Martin Ebner (Graz University of Technology, Austria), Timotheus Hell (Graz University of Technology, Austria) and Markus Ebner (Graz University of Technology, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8476-6.ch020

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors deal with the topic of integration of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Due to the worldwide debate on digitalization for all possible areas, even educational institutions are asking how they can deal with this change or how they have to prepare for the future. At Graz University of Technology, a pre-project was started to elaborate a policy, which should help to start different projects afterwards. Therefore, a participatory approach was started following the idea that each university member (lecturers, researchers, administrators, or students) can give input. Different measurements divided into the fields of education, research, administration, and transformation were carried out, summarized, and consolidated to provide a final policy. The outcome of this publication will focus on the description of the whole process as well as the summary of the most interesting aspects which were used for the final policy. Furthermore, an outlook on how the digital policy will be brought to practice in the following years will be provided.
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Introduction

Central European Universities have a long tradition of face-to-face education and it is not easy to introduce them to new technologies. For example, a nationwide study in Austria pointed out that only a few higher education institutions have installed sufficient support services for the adoption of educational technologies (Bratengeyer et al, 2016, Steinbacher & Bratengeyer, 2016). Nevertheless, it is obvious that due to the increasing influence of digital media the educational practices must change.

Our students ought to be prepared for a world where digital tools are part of their daily routine (MpFS, 2017) and face-to-face education should be just one of the many options. Taking a closer look at the students of today it is obvious that their behavior has changed dramatically because they are dealing with a larger variety of devices in comparison to a couple of years ago (Nagler et al, 2017, Nagler et al, 2018). They are using many different channels for communication – like WhatsApp, Snapchat, E-Mail, etc., and are used to accessing information systems and web platforms (for example YouTube) during their learning processes (Nagler et al, 2018). Prensky described this changing behavior in our young people in 2001, coining the term Digital Natives (Prensky, 2001). In comparison, our lecturers are best described as Digital Immigrants because for them the use of web technologies has not been part of their lives since birth. Faculty grew up in a world where teaching and learning primarily happened in classrooms with the assistance of traditional media like blackboards and books. Furthermore, the higher education institutions were not prepared for a new environment where digital and traditional media existed side by side. Therefore, a growing gap between the behaviours of the learners, the lecturers, and the educational system itself occurred. Higher education institutions are struggling to close this gap by investing money in hardware and software but often without any strategic plan. Due to the fact that the change is a holistic one and relevant to each person of the institution, Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) decided to produce a strategic plan, aiming to work out a “digitalization policy” responding to the central question: How should we deal with educational technology in the near future?

TU Graz is a typical traditional university located in Austria, the middle of Europe. About 17,000 students are currently enrolled in one of the seven programs of study – ranging from architecture to computer science. For 200 years, education at TU Graz has been based on the classical approach of teaching in huge lecture halls using rather traditional media, like blackboards and overhead projectors, which have recently been replaced by LCD projectors and presentation software. As the University is known for innovation, the Ministry of Education, Science and Research decided to task TU Graz with the development of a “digitalization policy” that would outline a master plan for meeting the challenges of the future concerning the use of digital technologies. In April 2017, a special interest group started working internally on the policy addressing four main topics: education, research, administration, and transformation.

For this research study, this group concentrated on the development of a digital policy for education for a typical central European university. Bearing in mind the history of the institution, the research question primarily addresses how to implement and permanently anchor Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) at an institution like TU Graz.

This publication describes the process utilized for the development of the digital policy – starting from the earliest discussions through to the final document.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Education: A rather new term describing the use of digital technologies in education.

Higher Education: Higher education follows primary and secondary education and is done by universities.

Learning Management System: A learning management system is an information system which allows the online-support of lectures, courses, or even classes.

E-Assessment: E-assessment is the possibility to generate computer-based assessment done offline or even online.

Nanodegree: An abbreviated course of study; a vocationally-focused and skills-based program.

Educational Technology: Educational technology is the use of (digital) technologies for teaching and learning purposes.

Policy Development: A long strategic process that produces a plan that the whole organization should follow as closely as possible in the future.

TAM: Technology acceptance model is an information systems model that proposes a series of steps that are followed in order for users to accept a new technology.

Recommendations: Recommendations are hints how we should deal in future on a certain topic.

CAMPUSonline: The information management system for Austrian universities, developed in 1998 by the Central Computer Science Service of Graz University of Technology.

TeachCenter: A web-based learning management system (LMS) that has supported digital teaching at TU Graz since 2007.

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