Learning and Teaching in the Modern Age

Learning and Teaching in the Modern Age

Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8904-5.ch001
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During such uncertain and disruptive times, the future of learning requires an attentive look and careful consideration. Technologies grow at a steady pace; educators are required to upskill constantly in a race to benefit from the latest innovations. However, the question remains: Are we ready to change the way we teach, learn, and most importantly, approach education? In this chapter, the authors argue about the importance of integrating learning theories in the instructional design used to engage with students and promote their learning in a hybrid approach. Finally, they look at potential fields of research to foster innovation in the EdTech sector.
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The Digital Landscape

Even though there is an underlying movement of sceptical people out there (see, for example, the Beyond Current Horizons project which was run by FutureLab, and Facer, 2009), venture capitalists have opened their wallets to fund some innovative educational projects, such as Udacity and Coursera (Watters, 2018). Thus, there are infinite opportunities for effective change, if we redesign the way we think about the educational system.

As highlighted by Reich and Ito (2017), and Dede and Richards (2012) among others, technology itself cannot warrant a change, for it to happen we need the commitment of people and institutions (Haymore Sandholtz, Ringstaff & Dwyer, 1997). Teachers require new skills and time to offer personalised learning to students, rather than concentrating on searching for the right resources on the wide world web. Students do not benefit from being considered “roaming autodidacts” (McMillan Cottom, 2015) - at least not at the beginning, as much as they didn't benefit from a system based on standardisation. Leaders need to concentrate their efforts on supporting staff in their growth and should collaborate with a dedicated instructional designer for the daily management of the teaching and learning, as well as ensuring that the school’s strategic vision is effectively implemented. Schools should strive to offer the best possible learning experience to all their pupils, regardless of their social, racial and economical background, and according to their learning styles (the debate is fierce on this topic, see among others Bauerlein, 2014; Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004; Ferreira, 2014; Gardner, 2006; Horn, 2010).

What we can testify is that the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought in a new era for digital learning which goes beyond the mere use of additional digital resources in the traditional classroom setting. It is clear that, although technologies are developing at a rapid pace, there is nothing at the moment that can come close to replicating the skills and abilities of human teachers, in particular in the interaction with students (see, among others, Eyal, 2012). Affective technologies are being developed and tested, but their results are found lacking when it comes to understanding student behaviour (Arguel et al., 2017; Calvo, D'Mello, Gratch & Kappas, 2015). Thus, there are few if non-existing studies of new ways of reforming schools and other educational settings, whether in the UK or generally elsewhere, to cater for a unified solution on how to successfully create standards for teaching in phygital environments. Studying the way schools are coping and adapting, will help school leaders to better embrace change and innovate while making the best use of resources.

Educational technologies seem to be in rapid expansion, starting from the 19th century, with the invention of the camera and the radio, up to smartphones, social networks and wearable devices (among others, see Fazzin, 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Project-Based Learning: It can be defined as a student-centred approach where experiential learning, achieved through exposure to real cases and projects, is valued to achieve deeper knowledge.

Blended/Phygital Learning: A modern concept, which includes traditional learning in a face-to-face setting, mixed to digital mediums such as the use of computers, online resources and so forth. Although there is no universal definition for the term, for the purposes of this chapter, we can define blended/phygital learning as a type of learning strategy which fuses together physical elements (i.e., learning in a class) with digital ones (i.e., virtual simulations in a computer).

Learning Theories: These can be defined as the theories developed throughout the years to define how students receive, process and store information, while taking into account a variety of variables and influences to promote and disseminate knowledge at individual and social level.

Behaviourism: A learning theory from the beginning of the twentieth century, which advocates that learning can only happen through observable, tangible change in behaviour which is derived from a response to a stimulus, using a reinforcement process based on trial and error.

Connectivism: Such theories advocate the importance of considering learning as the process of pattern recognition within a network with nodes and connections, which represents knowledge. Thus, they encompass the role of the individual, to consider a net of people and information available around.

Mastery Learning: Following Bloom’s theory, mastery learning refers to an instructional design and educational theory that believes students need to master a minimum required level of prerequisite knowledge before being able to move on to learn subsequent information.

Cognitivism: During the second half of the twentieth century, cognitive theories argue that learning should be defined as a way of storing and organising information, as it happens after an active, clear, and appropriate response to a stimulus.

Constructivism: According to these theories, learning happens in a social context, with individuals looking at the behaviour of others to copy.

Educational Technology: The term includes the combined use of hardware, software and instructional design that can be used appropriately to inform learning in an educational setting. In its abbreviated form, EdTech, it can be used to describe the sector (educational with the use of technology) in which specific companies work.

Instructional Design: This refers to a well-defined and systematic design, development, and delivery of instructional materials, which takes into account the needs of the learner, their end goals, and ways to make learning engaging and inspiring. Several approaches and models to instructional design are included in the definition, and instructional designers should apply the best ones according to the students’ needs, learning aims and outcomes, learning environment and more.

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