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Technology-Enhanced Learning at Reading

Using technology for study in the Library

Recent advances in technology coupled with changes in the higher education landscape are opening up new and exciting possibilities and opportunities to enhance the ways we deliver teaching and learning at Reading

Professor Gavin Brooks is Chair of the Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) Strategy Group. Here he outlines the University's plans to further incorporate the use of technology in our teaching and learning activities.

I am delighted to be able to share with you the University's Vision for Technology Enhanced Learning. Recent advances in technology coupled with changes in the higher education landscape are opening up new and exciting possibilities and opportunities to enhance the ways we deliver teaching and learning at Reading as well as encouraging students to develop skills that will enhance their employability. 

TEL has been defined as learning which is supported, mediated or assessed by the use of electronic media and it has a fundamental role to play in the delivery of the University's strategic objectives.

The TEL Strategy Group was established in January 2013 to devise a strategy to identify, prioritise, initiate and co-ordinate key developments in TEL at the University. This initiative is supported by the Changing the Learning Landscape programme for UK higher education institutions (HEIs) led by the Leadership Foundation for HE in partnership with the National Union of Students, the Higher Education Academy, the Association for Learning Technology and Jisc.

The TEL Strategy Group has met on a number of occasions and has identified six strategic priorities for TEL and devised a Vision for TEL. We have drawn on the experiences of the Digitally Ready Project and benchmarked existing TEL activities at Reading and at other UK HEIs. 

Our six strategic priorities for TEL over the next three years are to:

  1. Engender a Culture of TEL throughout the institution
  2. Develop a range of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  3. Expand and strengthen Wi-Fi provision across the campus
  4. Further develop the use and support of Blackboard/VLE for learning
  5. Further develop use and support of e-assessment and e-feedback, including use of Turnitin
  6. Implement a wider range of learning and lecture capture.

The three-year timeframe is to allow for a phased and sustainable approach that can be a foundation for subsequent developments. 

We look forward to engaging with you in conversations as to how our institutional approach to TEL can evolve. We recognise that across the University colleagues are already engaging in Technology Enhanced Learning in a variety of ways and wish to draw on your expertise. CQSD and Faculties are scheduling showcase events to share existing good practice and to explore these exciting opportunities and developments.

Progress so far

We will communicate more about our plans for developing TEL across the University, and how we would like colleagues in schools and services to engage with the TEL strategy and priorities in the coming months but it is worth highlighting that some progress has already been made as follows:

1. The primary priority, ‘Engender a Culture of TEL throughout the Institution', will be critical to the success of all of the other activity areas, and the TEL Strategy Group have been scoping out this area.  To enable us to maximise the opportunities that TEL offers, embedding use and consideration of TEL within our processes and practices, as well as supporting staff and students with appropriate training and development, will be crucial; 

2. The TEL Strategy Group's output has led to the recent establishment of a Feasibility Group on WiFi and funding has been agreed for the roll-out of high bandwidth broadband WiFi across all buildings and some outside spaces on the WKH and London Road campuses within the next 12 months;

3. The University's involvement with FutureLearn and the popularity of its first MOOC ‘Begin Programming' has been well publicised recently and we will be launching more MOOCs in the coming months; 

4. Use of Blackboard has grown extensively since its introduction over a decade ago.  Plans are being put in place to review, develop and consolidate our existing Blackboard service and support, with the aim of ensuring they are robust and sustainable and can meet growing demands; 

5. Other workstreams of the TEL Strategy Group currently are exploring the options for lecture/learning capture systems and plans for e-submission of coursework, e-assessment and e-feedback.  Studies were commissioned on both workstreams over the summer and will inform future direction.

Professor Gavin Brooks

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning

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