Higher education – Digital versus analogue learning spaces

©Graphicstock.com 2016

©Graphicstock.com 2016


While we debate the need for a manual or other tool to support educators to design online learning spaces, an important piece of the conversation is being ignored. It is not just a matter of anywhere, anytime. This “catch phrase” needs to be situated in the changes in higher education funding models which means that more students are balancing employment with study and on campus attendance is declining (Bower, Kennedy, Dalgarno & Lee, 2011). ICTs and digital environments can be seen as enabling these students to participate in lifelong learning and is a tool promoting the democratization of education. 

Rather than a manual, perhaps what is more important is an approach which facilitates an understanding of the pedagogy which supports learning in new spaces and the need for networking and creating communities of practice to support these emerging understandings. As Siemens notes, information has a half life. Connections via networks is central to dealing with the dynamic nature of information. Julie Lindsay’s new book The Global educator is part of the conversation that reminds us that “our classrooms are flat”. That is, Web 2.0 technologies and tools enable learners to connect via social media, MOOCs and virtual learning spaces. Global citizenship is just as critical as local citizenship practices, helping breakthrough stereotypical understandings (Lindsay, p.53). Rather than debating the threat of extinction facing physical learning spaces, it is critical than we understand that learning, whether in physical or virtual spaces, will only take place when supported by pedagogy which understands the affordances of each space. These deeper, richer conversations cannot take place in via a manual.

Bower, M., Kennedy, G.E., Dalgarno, B., & Lee, M.J.W. (2011). Uniting on-campus and distributed learners through media-rich synchronous tools: A National project. In G. Williams, P. Statham, N. Brown & B Cleland (Eds.) Changing demands, changing directions. Conference proceedings ascilite, Hobart 2011` (pp.150-155): University of Tasmania, 4-7 December. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/hobart11/downloads/ProceedingsV3.pdf

Lindsay, J. (2016). The Global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning and teaching. ISTE

Mitra, S. (2013). Sugata Mitra and the hole in the wall [Video log]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/HE5GX3U3BYQ

Robinson, K. & Aronica, L. (2015). Creative schools: Revolutionizing education from the ground up. Australia: Penguin group.

Siemens,, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm



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