Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Does Technology Impact on Teaching Styles or Do Teaching Styles Impact on Technology in the Delivery of Higher Education?

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Does Technology Impact on Teaching Styles or Do Teaching Styles Impact on Technology in the Delivery of Higher Education?

Article excerpt

Introduction

New technological environments can promote a great number of efficiencies and potential benefits in the way universities show and process the information required in their teaching functions. Block and Dobell, (1999), forecasted that 80% of higher education providers would offer some kind of virtual education by 2002, although admitting that their extension and reach would vary. Areas of research relating to web-based technologies for teaching purposes include virtual teams (Knoll & Jarvenpaa, 1995), group work with technological tools (Alavi, 1994; Alavi, Wheeler, & Valacich, 1995), interactions in class with the use of computers (Leidner & Fuller, 1997) and the sending and receiving of institutional material (Leidner & Jarvenpaa, 1993).

In the last ten years there has been a dramatic increase in the development of the use of webbased networks for teaching purposes. The introduction of web-based networks within institutions of higher education can have profound implications on how knowledge is shared between stakeholders. However, with the establishment of these new environments, new cognitive skills are needed. A new paradigm for the introduction of multimedia tools in general education and particularly in distance education, demands from both students and lecturers the development of new competencies that consider communication from a different perspective. Thus teaching styles might be influenced by these technologies or the technologies might influence teaching styles.

Furthermore, organisations have adopted information technology in three distinct stages: to improve productivity and quality (automate stage), create and maintain an advantage (informate stage) and finally redesign business processes to better support company strategy (transformate stage), (Frenzel, 1999) which Venkatraman, (1994) summarises as evolutionary and revolutionary levels. The stage at which universities are operating might also affect their teaching styles using web-based technologies or the teaching styles might determine the technology.

Descriptions of the Universities

A case study comparison of how two unrelated universities are meeting the opportunities and challenges that these possibilities offer must first describe the characteristics of each university to determine if technology is the driving force or teaching styles or if pedagogical considerations are influencing the technology.

The National Distance Learning University (UNED) of Spain

The National Distance Learning University (UNED) was created legislatively by Act 2310/72 on August 18th, 1972 in Spain. The principal reason for the Act was to provide access to higher education for people who because of time, work or distance were unable to attend a traditional campus based university. This university is entirely based on distance teaching and learning, requiring the same general conditions of instructional systems but needing a specific methodology not restricted by space or time. It functions nationally, providing innovative teaching and learning for the delivery of higher education. Today, UNED offers sixteen different university faculty courses, which include special courses for people over 25 years of age, six masters degrees, 16 different titles as upper university specialist, 128 programs of teacher training, 85 programs of open learning and five summer courses.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) of Australia

In comparison, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is one of Australia's largest universities with an enrolment of around 30,000 students. The university, for the majority of students, is an on-campus attendance university. The campuses are based in Brisbane, the capital city of the state, known as the "Smart State". QUT provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses up to doctorates from its three teaching campuses and also delivers courses in rural Australia and overseas. …

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