Title

A Focus on Learning

I was heartened to see Zemsky put learning at the top of his list of the tough issues facing higher education, ahead of attainment and money.

Zemsky outlines some of the typical challenges faced by colleges and universities in supporting student learning and measuring the results. He writes that, "there is a growing suspicion -- and in some quarters an already angry conviction -- that all is not well with the learning enterprise."

September 15, 2009
 
 

I was heartened to see Zemsky put learning at the top of his list of the tough issues facing higher education, ahead of attainment and money.

Zemsky outlines some of the typical challenges faced by colleges and universities in supporting student learning and measuring the results. He writes that, "there is a growing suspicion -- and in some quarters an already angry conviction -- that all is not well with the learning enterprise."

How would an academic learning technologist approach the issue of learning on campus?

This question is not a theoretical or policy question for us. We spend each day working directly with faculty colleagues trying to utilize learning design methods and leverage technologies in order to create optimal conditions for learning. The goal of enabling authentic student learning motivates and informs how we work with faculty to design courses and utilize technology. We think about the learning process in deciding what technologies and tools our institutions should put scarce resources towards. In our workshops and one-on-one training learning precedes technology, as we always start with learning challenges and faculty teaching goals.

A large part of the job of a learning technologist is bridging the gap between actual practice in the classroom (and/or the virtual classroom) and the literature and best practices on learning. We believe that technology can often serve as a multiplier for authentic learning, particularly in our efforts to have the student experience in large lecture classes enjoy some of the benefits of active learning found in seminar courses. We also find that technology, particularly the course management system, serves to open a window with faculty to talk about their teaching and learning goals - and to offer solutions and techniques that align to the literature on learning.

I would encourage Zemsky and anyone else interested in the learning process on campus to make sure that your learning technologists have a seat at the table in this discussion. We have a ground-level view of where investments and resources can be best directed to support learning. We work across the campus and across disciplines. We talk to a range of faculty about their teaching goals and concerns. We actively make an effort to listen to students. And our main agenda is to facilitate authentic learning in our institutions.

Do learning technologists at your institution participate in strategic discussions around learning?

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