Widening Access strategy group
I am part of a national group of experts and stakeholders that intends to develop a widening access strategy for the Austrian higher education sector. It is interesting to think about the existent diversity that makes up the fabric of HE students these days.
On these pages you find information about my personal and professional background as well as some features about my interests in technology-enhanced learning, knowledge creation, knowledge transfer, and networked universities.
Learning technology has come a long way, and provides organisations, learners, and teachers with enormous opportunities to innovate not only their technical environment, but also the teaching and learning methodologies as well as their business processes. Most of all, the introduction of new media technologies leads to reflections about inherited traditional systems versus new approaches. My work contributes to these reflections and pursues not only innovation but also the effects that this innovation has on education, learning, and people.
This is a fast moving area and research focus changes quickly and often unexpectedly. My publications page contains a list of works in the field over the years. To a great extent they too reflect the changing nature of education.
My views on technology-enhanced learning
I am a passionate believer in the opportunities that technology has to offer to the knowledge society, both in terms of enhancement of learning and in reaching out to new learners. In remote and rural communities it is often the only way for people to access higher education. However, I am also of the opinion that technology alone does not produce new knowledge or learning and that new developments need to have a pedagogic and learner-centred approach.
Experience in commerce and education has shown that online solutions are at their best when built upon a traditional well-established structure. The pedagogic concept of Blended Learning is increasingly supported by universities and governments who realise that it provides a more sustainable approach than purely online offerings. This goes some way towards recognising that we cannot ignore pedagogic concepts that have been successful for decades before the internet arrived and still are.
Areas of interest
Technology enhanced learning has made giant leaps forward over the past few years. In my work, I try to keep up-to-date with latest developments and newest technologies. My current research interests focus especially on Learning and Knowledge Analytics, Language Technologies for learning support, Learning Networks, and Mobile Learning, but I also have a keen interest in other topics, including open education, game mechanics, or the most recent debate about connectivism.
Read more about my views on e-learning developments.
PLEs and Personal Services
Student-centredness has moved into the next phase with the emergence of personal learning environments (PLEs). In plain English, it’s a shift from centralised to de-centralised service provision. An interesting and more extreme viewpoint was expressed by some experts claiming that universities should not fulfil the role of an ISP (Internet Service Provider). This could lead to the outsourcing of many IT services to external providers and students. Especially with mobile technologies we already see an increased expectation by institutions that students have their own devices and should use them also for their studies.
Another aspect is that of a personal learning space, presenting students as active participants in control of their own tools - largely Web 2.0 community tools such as del.icio.us, weblogs, wikis, concept maps and search engines. To some extent this view represents the maturing information society, where knowledge is up for grabs and knowledge production takes a shortcut to publication.
From the institutions’ perspective, it was the personal teaching environment that up till now held the monopoly in service provision. The assumption had been that what benefits the tutor will cascade to benefit the learner. Of course, this led to a dependency of students on their sometimes technically challenged tutors. In a reverse case scenario a digital divide between students is the result, where a perfectly computer literate learner cannot use and develop their skills because the tutor resists change.
Especially with the emergence of Learning Networks and self-directed learning in communities, being able to determine your own personal environment is a step into the right direction.