Learning, Teaching and Technology in Higher Education

Learning, Teaching and Technology in Higher Education

In higher education, the way tutors teach is a result of their own beliefs and presumptions about teaching and learning. Based on these values and orientations, tutors adopt either a teacher-centric or a learner-centric pedagogical (way of teaching) approach.

But some current research has pointed out that there is transitional orientation between both the approaches.

Teacher-centric pedagogy is primarily concerned with the transfer of information from the lecturer to the student referred as transmissive teaching and the level of involvement in the learning process of the tutor is little/minimal. Whereas learner-centric pedagogy gives more autonomy to the learner in terms of the level of engagement with the Learning Environment(LE) and the learning material, and this approach also allows the tutor to engage in a dialogic process with peers, tutors/lecturers, experts etc. This form of teaching encourages deep-learning involving critical analysis, awareness of a whole raft prior knowledge and also gives the learner the ability to put knowledge gained into practice.

In traditional Learning Environment importance is given to the delivery of lectures to a mass audience with less consideration for students with different cognitive/learning styles. Empirically it could be argued that this results in higher level of absenteeism in classrooms, with learner-centered approach it could be possible to focus on each students learning needs. Tutors would be able to engage more proactively making an impact in the learning process of the learner. In order to make typical class more engaging and fruitful not only for the learner but also for the tutor it is essential that the tutor believes in the need for teacher-student to communicate/interact with each other, and along side they should make provisions to implement interactive activities in their teaching, allowing them to move from a ‘transmissive and didactic’ mode of teaching to a more interactive mode of teaching slowly making a transition from teacher-centered to learner -centered orientation.

Apart from Universities/Colleges following a more teacher-centric approach to learning, the role played by technologies through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is weak. Today some Universities/Colleges use an institution-wide VLE as apart of their teaching process but these VLE’s are used mainly as data repository for lecture materials uploaded by the tutors. Arguably this indicate that, academics are being largely teacher-centered when it comes to the use of technology in day-to-day teaching and their exhibition of reluctance towards adopting more learner-centered ideas/technologies associated with it.

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