Having been the Programme Director of a successful, largely online doctoral programme in e-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning for a number of years, Professor Don Passey has often been asked to reflect on and consider how such a programme could be applied more widely or in different contexts. Over the past two years, he has analysed the ways that features of online and blended learning programmes have been deemed to be successful, and how learners can engage with and gain from involvement supported by digital technologies.
During this year, he has presented his thinking on this topic in several different fora:
- at a symposium run by the Centre for Research in Digital Learning at Leeds University (the presentation is available online),
- at the Digifest conference run by JISC,
- and most recently at a symposium run by Liverpool Hope University.
His published analyses of the future for online and blended learning this year include a chapter exploring issues from a learning perspective (which is also available online) and an article entitled ‘Developing inclusive practices with technologies for online teaching and learning: a theoretical perspective’ in the journal Bordón Revista de pedagogía, 69(3), 25-40.
While digital technologies offer ways for wider engagement, Don argues the need for those developing online and blended learning to consider a range of factors before considering choices of technologies.
- spatial and physical barriers in the user environment;
- identifying the focus of user engagement through appropriate choice of activities;
- social involvement (managing group work through appropriate interactions);
- emotional needs (and recognising that elements such as anonymity may not be accepted in the same way by all learners); and
- cognitive focus.
Don's research in this field is ongoing. Other perspectives in this field are being researched by doctoral researcher and academic members of the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning.