A Fitbit on a screen showing Moodle. Text saying Technology for learning or for employment?

July 11, 2023, by Helen Whitehead

Technology for learning or for employment?

How do we use digital technology in Higher Education? It’s not just about using it to create better ways to enhance learning, focusing on facts and skills in a particular discipline. A big driver for us now is using digital technology to create an education that prepares students for life and work in the future.  Only part of that is learning to learn. In a rapidly changing world the ability to be self motivated in learning new things is more important than ever.

Is it important that the technology we use in HE reflects the technology that students will experience in the working environment? Should we, in a university, use technology that’s specifically designed for promoting learning? A learning environment like Moodle is far more than a website. It is built with tools that can used to organize, track and promote active learning.  On the other hand, it isn’t as good for purposes outside learning and won’t be found in your typical commercial environment.

You might have the same conversation about a fitness app. Is it for tracking activity and health? Or should it play you music and allow you to answer your texts? Then again, maybe what you want IS a universal smartwatch that does everything. Is all technology educational technology, and it doesn’t matter what technology we use, only HOW we use it?  As learning technologists and educators we have long believed that the available technology itself shouldn’t be the driver for technology-enhanced learning (TEL). With all the technology now available to us, however, how do you pick and choose what’s best for learning?

We have to start with learners’ needs, outcomes and skills. Then we move on to take account of any preferred pedagogy in the learning design. Outcomes are matched to assessments and we then deliver appropriate activities using the technologies that are available. We already use many of the professional technologies that vocational graduates will go on to work with. Students can benefit more if we can make use of the technologies such as video and Teams that graduates will encounter in the workplace. There will always, though, also be a place for learning technologies that are highly designed for supporting teaching and learning. These, of course, we should choose to be fit for purpose.

More information

A Guide to Learning Technologies at the University


Posted in Learning designLearning technologyMoodle