June 2, 2008, by Teaching at Nottingham

Barriers to e-learning uptake

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Tony Fisher: “I think, probably, the key issue, for me at least, would have been the fact that different parts of the school were moving at very different speeds, and consequently, we’d got pockets of innovation and pockets where e-learning wasn’t really being taken up.”

Gordon Joyes: “And what we ended up discovering from them it, sort of, matched the audit, but it was a bit deeper. It was saying things like, ‘Yeah, we’re aware of new learning technologies, but it doesn’t always work, does it?’

“‘It takes a lot of effort, maybe, to get the thing to operate, and what maybe is the value?’  ‘I prefer this.’ You know, ‘Why should I change my practice?’

“So there was a, sort of, critical awareness, and scepticism which is, you know, you, sort of, expect in any school, but that was clearly another issue in the picture.”

Do Coyle: “You have the experts, who are the – who have all the knowledge, they have all the information, they have all the, sort of, understanding of the technology, and then you have people who then, are a little bit in awe of the expert, or they’re worried about making themselves look foolish, or they’re worried about spending a lot of time on something that might not be effective and so on.

“We wanted to break down all of those barriers, many of which we felt were, in fact, imaginary, and to, sort of, get the experts, and the so-called non-experts working together. The very people who need to be the designers of these tools, because they understand the context much better than some of the experts, they were the ones that needed to be in there, leading.

“I keep coming back to this the myth that surrounds the magic of the technology, and the huge amount of skill and knowledge that you need to have to make these technologies actually work. I think there is a myth around that, and secondly, the technology on its own is worthless. It’s how we’re going to use it.”

Mike Sharples: “E-learning is seen as something extra, something that may bring benefits in the future, but you have to invest time in setting it up.

“Another barrier is just knowing how to get started, so where to go to, to find the right technologies, how to configure those technologies, and then the third barrier is confidence.

“So confidence to be able to use them in the classroom, the lecture or seminar setting, put yourself on the line with some technology you’d perhaps only tried before on your desk or in the lab, and take it out in front of real students.

“In practice, I think the barriers can be quite low, and if you get started, and get support at the beginning, then you probably don’t need – you certainly don’t need a lot of funding.

“It’s more a matter of having the confidence to use the technology, and then for it to become part of your routine teaching and working life.”

In conversation with: Do Coyle, Tony FisherGordon Joyes, Mike Sharples (School of Education).

Extracts from interviews with staff who are starting to use technology in their teaching, and those who are mentoring them. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s ePioneers collection. Produced: June 2008

Posted in Integrating technology