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Is Technology Enhancing Learning?

I was recently very fortunate to be supported by the senior management team at BePro, to study a level 7, PG Cert in Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). Sounds all very swish and exciting, but what is it?, seriously, what is Technology Enhanced Learning? Is it the rise of artificial intelligence and the domination of mankind by robots? Microchips in our brains that let us learn as we walk around town? or is it something even more profound? How about using technology to support and enhance learning activities? To make every learning experience better for both the learner and the tutor?

We’re not talking about replacing the human side of teaching, let’s face it, we’ve all seen what happened in Terminator and no matter how much Arnie tried to redeem himself in Kindergarten Cop, once that image is stuck in your mind, there’s no going back (or forward, I’m still confused about the whole time travel paradox!). No more Arnie links from here on in, I promise 🤞

Even before the pandemic, we lived in a digital world, where learning could be accessed anywhere, anyhow and anytime, but this was still a limited facility for many organisations. Since going into lockdown, BePro, along with every educational organisation, had to change the way we worked. This meant learning very quickly, to deliver learning activities in a virtual environment. It was difficult, and like most, we learnt as we went along. But we got very good at it and it prompted us to look at more ambitious and exciting ways in which we can make learning accessible to as many learners and adopt the mantra of “anywhere, anytime, anyhow”.

To go back to the question at the beginning of this blog: What is Technology Enhanced Learning?

If we think about the term, and take this literally, then it’s about using technology to enhance learning experiences. The most important thing to take from this is the word “enhance”, it doesn’t mean replace (as in removing the tutor) and it doesn’t mean using technology because “it looks cool” or using it just because we can. We only want to use technology where it adds value to the learning experience, if it doesn’t add value, we won’t use it!

So our main objective is to enhance a learning experience in a way that can be measured as adding value to the learning experience.

Nearly everybody has a smartphone these days, they’ve become an extension of ourselves. If you’re like me, my whole life is managed through my phone, seriously its quite sad really. I keep my diary on there, I download documents, take and store photo’s, communicate with everyone I know through the phone and (ashamedly) spend far too much time, mindlessly scrolling through pointless and mind numbing Facebook and WhatsApp posts. Thinking about it, I really need to get out more!

But the point is, if we’re using our smartphones so much, then why don’t we take full advantage of what they can do, and use them for education. There is so much evidence of successful mobile learning out there that its obvious that this is the next step for us to take at BePro.

In a nutshell then, the major benefit of mobile technology is the freedom to access learning at anytime and anywhere.

Our use of technology will never replace tutor support, instead we will create a symbiotic relationship between the learner, tutor and the technology. The tutor will use technology (where appropriate) to enhance the learning experience and ensure the student is fully supported and remains at the heart of everything that we do. The tutor/student interaction is vital to maintain our values.

Where technology can really be of benefit.

Our learners are located across the length and breadth of the country (some are further afield in places like Saudi Arabia and we have interest from Australia), so regular face to face learning is restrictive.

So what is our plan? We are embarking on a mission to develop digital and mobile learning across all of our current and future courses, allowing for more learner to tutor interaction, learner to learner interaction and making learning accessible on any mobile device (smart phones, tablets etc). We are also researching the use of supporting technologies such as using text to speech, transcripts and audio enhancement technology to support sight/hearing impaired learners to ensure equality and inclusion with accessibility for everyone; anytime, anyplace, anyhow.

Oh and I almost forgot, I mentioned earlier that I’d be writing another blog about open learning, so keep an out because…

I’LL BE BACK! (Ok, just one last Arnie link!).

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