Wednesday, December 14, 2022

What is Coming Soon with Educational Technology in Australia and New Zealand

ASCILITE have released their first "Scanning the Australasian Ed Tech Horizon: The 2021-2022 Contextualising Horizon Report" (Campbell, Porter, Logan-Fleming, & Jones, 2022). It is a big title for a relatively short 47 page report. This covers  rethinking lectures and assessment, blended learning, Co-design and Microcredentials. The bigger picture is covered with rethinking the university experience, and support for staff and learners. This will be useful for administrators and academics considering what to do post-COVID. 

The most telling point for me in the report was:
"Higher education needs to mainstream assessment design that better prepares graduates with 21st century skills for an ambiguous future". 
 (Page 15, emphasis added). 
The key point here is "mainstream". We already know how to improve assessment, and a few of us are doing it. The problem is to make this use widespread, and routine, not something novel a few do. Online learning, was proven years before COVID, but took the threat of financial ruin, and death, to make mainstream. Hopefully improved assessment can be introduced without a similar crisis. But it may take a little pressure from funding and accrediting bodies, to push universities into this.

I was one of those who pressed for my professional body to require students to have 21st century communication and teamwork skills. Universities agreed to do this, not necessarily because they thought it was a good idea, but because if they did not they would not be accredited and international students would not enroll. It takes a staff with new qualifications to teach these new skills.

The report is optimistic about online learning: 
"Higher education learners are choosing the convenience and flexibility of online learning, and it is therefore less likely that higher education will flip back to face-to-face teaching to the same extent as has occurred in the school sector. Learners in higher education are largely there by choice and will likely select providers that enable them to juggle study as part of their increasingly complex lives." (Page 15)
However, how will these online learners be treated? Pre-COVID-19, most university students were studying mostly online, despite being officially registered on campus. The students took advantage of the online services offered. COVID-19 forced universities to take online students more seriously, and not pretend they weren't there (or they were in the classroom). Especially in the case of international students, online mode creates marketing and administrative problems for universities. It is difficult to market online study as a premium product with high fees. If a student has to turn up to campus to meet the requirements of a student visa, then dejour online courses are not relevant.

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