- Discipline selection
- Research approaches to learning
- Existing use of courseware
- Developing the language of a discipline
- Pedagogic framework
- Implementation factors analysis
- Student web publishing
- Learning process development
- Subject-specific developments
TELRI commenced at the beginning of October with the arrival of two educational
technology officers, Dr Mick Roach and Dr Steven Warburton. During the last few months, as Project Manager, I carried out an extensive consultation process in
order to select departments at Warwick and Oxford universities for participation in the TELRI project. Departments who had expressed interest in participating in the
project discussed the departmental objectives in the context of the TELRI project, and produced a short pro-forma of the proposed areas for development.
Appropriate links between departments at Warwick and Oxford were then drawn.
The departments at Warwick which were chosen are Biological Sciences, Computer
Science, Languages (represented as a "consortium": the Language Centre, Italian, French, German and possibly CELTE), Law, Mathematics, and History (including Comparative American Studies).
The departments/faculties at Oxford which were chosen and which represent, where possible, an equivalency to the Warwick disciplines are Zoology, Social Studies,
Modern Languages, Mathematics, and Continuing Education's Local History Department.
All departmental objectives are geared up to enhancing the research -orientated
approach to student learning using technology-assisted methods and materials. The outcomes of the work should provide valuable evidence to the benefits of studying
in a research-led institution. A number of common elements between the Warwick and Oxford counterparts have already been identified, including a new Web-based
course for Bioinformatics, approaches to computer-based assessment in mathematics, and the integration of computer-assisted language learning materials.
A large part of our contribution involves getting staff to consider the student perspective in terms of what is expected of them, how they gauge their
performance against other students, and how to place fundamental principles into the context of their application to a topic, discipline or 'real world' situation. In this
sense, course designs have benefited from an initial consideration of the student starting point; making learning objectives and assessment criteria explicit helps to
guide students through the course towards the appropriate learning outcomes.
Research approaches to learning
At its core, TELRI advocates developing curricula that encourage a research-orientated approach to learning. In doing so, students become equipped
with both subject-specific knowledge and skills and, at the same time, the broader capabilities of graduates that Higher Education should seek to develop, that
employers value and which are of immense value to students in their later careers and lives. The project aims to help departments to make effective use of educational
technologies to develop those skills and capabilities.
In-depth discussions have taken place with academic staff regarding the development of teaching programmes that make use of research-like approaches to
learning and develop students' research capabilities. The type of rethinking in which departments have engaged is very much in keeping with the need - particularly
driven by requirements for Subject Review - for departments to specify more clearly:
- overall curriculum design objectives of courses and programmes of study,
- specific learning outcomes of courses and modules, and
- how learning outcomes are reflected in the criteria and methods of assessment of student learning.
Emerging from this first level of work with departments is a clarification and improved understanding of those areas of a curriculum that might be delivered
more effectively using educational technologies. Project members believe that it is important to approach things in an integrated manner rather than "bolt-on"
approaches from which many educational technologies have obtained a bad name.
The TELRI Project is also concerned with overcoming barriers to successful
implementation of technology-assisted teaching and learning. Already, we are building up a picture of how the culture of each discipline, as well as the culture of
different institutions, need to be accounted for in any approach to implementing technology-assisted teaching and learning. The collaboration with departments in
Oxford (and later also Durham, Southampton and Birmingham universities) also offers valuable opportunities. Working across this range allows us to assess not
only how disciplines vary from one university to another, but also how institutional infrastructures can play an important part in enabling or inhibiting progress by
individuals and departments in this area. In this way, the resultant TELRI framework aims to reflect both the cultural and technological requirements for successful implementation of learning technologies.
Existing use of courseware
In most cases, courses or learning tasks have now been identified in which research
capabilities exist and might be enhanced using technology-based teaching and learning approaches. Existing courseware materials have generally been found to be
inappropriate to the level and nature of study at Warwick and Oxford. The materials investigated are in most cases not only pitched too low, but also incorporate very
little scope for developing higher levels of cognitive ability. In general, it appears to be technological methods that best provide new possibilities for teaching and
learning approaches, rather than provision of CAL-type materials per se. The exception is where courseware can provide an appropriately tailored resource base,
components of which can support other teaching and learning teaching methods. Where such a knowledge base exists, the nature of traditional modes of teaching
shifts away from passive information transfer towards methods that engage learning and from which students' research capabilities can be developed.
There appears in some cases to be a mismatch between provision and utilisation of IT infrastructure (facilities, support and training). Several barriers to innovation in
technology-assisted teaching methods may be associated with perceptions of IT facilities and service levels that may not be accurate. The team is looking to identify
routes to overcome some of theses apparent barriers by assisting in the development of more co-ordinated approaches to IT support. In this way, it is
anticipated that some barriers to progress might be removed and serve as useful approaches for other subsequent departments.
Developing the language of a discipline
The team is finding that some patterns seem to be emerging from working with groups of academic staff to date. The following comments are tentative and may
require revision in due course, but it is believed that they form a valuable part of what the project is exploring.
In the first stages of the Project, the TELRI team consulted with individual lecturers
across a wide range of departments about what the development of research capabilities meant in terms of their subject area and their own teaching approaches.
On reflection, it is clear that a significant period of the initial discussions with lecturers was actually spent in establishing a common "language" so that the
dialogue about teaching and learning approaches could be open and meaningful. The team needed to acquire understanding of the unique aspects of each discipline.
Likewise, the lecturers need to find ways to rationalise their teaching approaches they face in educational "speak".
Ironically, this difficulty in understanding the "language" of a discipline or set of course objectives is faced by most students in realising what is expected of them.
Many students do not acquire insight into what the specified learning outcomes mean until the end of a course and therefore from the outset are often task and
assessment driven. Since this approach relies heavily on continuous tutor input, the TELRI Project is assisting lecturers in developing course designs that support
students in acquiring the "language" of the course at an earlier stage. A large part of the TELRI contribution involves getting staff to consider the student perspective
in terms of what is expected of them. An important motivation factor for students involves providing opportunities for them to gauge their performance against other
students, and place fundamental principles into the context of their application to a topic, discipline or 'real world' situation. In this sense, course designs have benefited
from an initial consideration of the student's starting point. Making learning objectives and assessment criteria explicit helps to guide students through the course towards the appropriate learning outcomes.
A pedagogic framework describing the components and coherence required for a
curriculum design that facilitates research-like approaches to learning has been developed. This has now been written up as a working document and has been
presented at the project steering group, as well as to colleagues in other institutions and from a variety of subject-specific and educational backgrounds. The
comments received will assist us in preparing appropriate materials for dissemination to various stakeholders. Several academics from participating departments are
involved in pilot projects that will provide case study materials to illustrate the TELRI approaches.
(Working document: TLTP3/92/pedag1.doc/290799_v1.2).
A change management framework is being developed from our initial 'enthusiasm v
hassle' model. A working document has been produced and presented at Steering Group. This explores the ways in which educational technology solutions are
designed, implemented and embedded and how the changes required for successful integration may be facilitated. The starting point for this exploration is a collection of
factors that have been identified as barriers or drivers to the use of educational technology. These factors have been distilled from a number of documents, which
include exploratory interview data from the TELRI project and previously reported case studies. The analysis of these factors has initially been conducted along three
axes: how studying working practice is central to gaining information about cultural practices; implementation/ integration life-cycles; and theories of change
management. The conclusion of this document brings together these three inter-related perspectives to form a framework aimed at successful long-term educational technology implementation.
Student web publishing
Working with staff from the Language Centre, Italian Studies, Theatre Studies and History, TELRI are producing a prototype to enable students to publish work on the
web and centre discussion around their choice of materials. For example, a case study into web-supported student-centred learning is being developed for a French
language course, which deploys web-supported research and assessment contracts. Course activities are designed to develop student capabilities in the lingual skills and
to foster research and IT skills using student web publishing as a working context. Students are required to: select an image from the web, present a public discussion
of the chosen image to their peers and tutor, participate in the formulation of "follow-up" research questions and, finally, to publish the results on a web site.
Both the presentation and the written dissemination must be delivered in the target language. The project will investigate the extent to which the research nature of
the work, and the personalised forum in which it is negotiated, provides the motivation for students to learn and apply language in a real context.
The pilot student web publishing approaches implemented in Languages (Warwick) lead us to believe that providing students with choice promotes motivation,
enthusiasm, peer interaction and improved discussion, and student-centred responsibility. In discussion with other departments, this approach appears to have applicability across a range of the other disciplines.
Example pilot implementations
Learning process development
The TELRI pedagogic model ascertains that the assignment choice determines the
'style' of the course, i.e. research inquiry, knowledge- or training-based. At the same time, the course guidance and support offered to students regarding the
required learning outcomes determine the 'quality' of the course and the likelihood of students' producing high quality assignment work.
A scheme based on current assessment practice is being used to implement a
technology-assisted method for students to discuss their approaches to producing assessment work. Following the marking process, the best examples of
assignments and reflective records of the approaches adopted are published (possibly only in part). For subsequent students, this provides clarification of the
processes of undertaking the assignment before submitting their final assessment work. In this way, students can develop effective learning strategies for assignment activities and course quality is enhanced.
Through the application of common learning technologies, such as web-based resource delivery, electronic discussion boards and student web publishing, to
specific learning processes, students can benefit from examples of best practice and are thus empowered to develop study and working practices that lead to higher quality work.
This professional learning process reflects the research process that experienced academics practice. This "professional learning process development" approach has clear applications in most disciplines.
In Biological Sciences, we are working with the Department of Zoology at Oxford University to develop a new course in Bioinformatics. The course will run entirely on
the web, with the exception of a short introductory lecture, describing the objectives and methods for the course, and a final debriefing drawing together
some of the learning gains of the course as a whole. This poses a particular challenge to the course designers, since students need to be able to take
responsibility for their own learning and thus, need learning objectives and assessment criteria to be highly explicit.
A preliminary course development methodology has been produced for implementing
technology-enhanced, research-orientated approaches to learning. This will aid the production of principles and frameworks for effective course design and has
applicability for course programmes across several disciplines.
The pilot of 15 students is planned for the spring term, 2000. This will provide
valuable feedback as to the effectiveness of these approaches in developing research capabilities. The course will be extended to 200 students at Oxford and 150 students at Warwick in October 2000.
At Warwick, there is a split in our activities between language learning delivered by
the Language Centre and the cultural/literary aspects (critical analysis skills) in the department of Italian Studies. However, since language proficiency is instrumental to
the study of literature, and in fact in other disciplines such as cultural policy, history, business etc., the two will converge at a later stage.
A case study into web-supported student-centred learning is being developed for a French language course. Course activities are designed to develop student
capabilities in the lingual skills and to foster research and IT skills using student web publishing as a working context. The case study will provide a useful working model
that will be of great value in further discussions with the Faculty of Modern Languages at Oxford.
The implementation of Web-based research and Web-publishing in a
student-centred French language course has been piloted and a case study is being submitted to WELL (a current FDTL-funded Project, Web-Enhanced Language
Learning). The work involved evaluating student attitudes to the Web, before and after their completion of a short project and studying the roles played by choice,
responsibility and motivation in relation to the use of images during the project. In conclusion, although this was something entirely new to us, the pedagogical
methodology and ideas were taken up quite readily. The biggest problems were essentially in overcoming anxieties in implementing something innovative into a set
curriculum and attaching a value (i.e. assessment mark) to it.
Example: French language learning - Student web publishing tool
In working with the Department of Continuing Education at Oxford University on the development of an Internet-based course on Local History, a similar challenge is
faced to that in the student-centred bioinformatics web-based course. Since students need to be able to take responsibility for their own learning and Oxford
University's approach to teaching relies heavily on one-to-one and very small group tutorials, it is essential that learning objectives and assessment criteria are highly
explicit. TELRI and the course developers are exploring ways in which the richness of the intense form of interaction in the tutorial method can be recreated in an on-line environment.
The department of History at Warwick are using TLTP phase 1 history materials mounted on the web as a resource base for tutorial and essay work. It is currently
customising this under the TLTP phase 3 CHIC project and has also been piloting the use of FirstClass for conferencing. TELRI have assisted in identifying
student-centred research approaches to learning. The student web publishing approach described above is being considered for a course in Comparative American Studies.
A pilot project is being developed for a History course on North American History to implement the student web publishing methodology.
The overall definition of the law curriculum is being investigated, assisted by discussions with the head of the Law Technology Centre. The use of
computer-mediated communication (CMC) to enhance group problem-based learning approaches was identified as a means of developing students' research capabilities.
Methods are being investigated to link this methodology to the Iolis CD-ROM Originally developed under TLTP phase 1, this is a comprehensive resource-base,
covering a major part of the HE law curriculum. A proposal for new approach will be discussed with other departmental academic staff before work on a pilot commences.
Based on issues surrounding assessment identified in the TELRI pedagogic framework, a "professional learning process development" methodology is being
piloted in the School of Law at the University of Warwick.
Initial discussions identified general educational approaches and current pedagogic problems, such as student motivation for basic programming. Problem-based
approaches were considered of highest importance in developing research capabilities. An evaluation of the suitability of third party and in-house courseware
materials is underway. The work will focus on developing staff understanding of integrated course design approaches with a view to enabling a broadening of the courses examined by the TELRI team.
Initial meetings have concentrated on defining the nature of mathematics teaching and learning at university level, with particular emphasis given to the culture and
approaches within the two institutions. At Warwick, areas for project work focus initially on evaluating the cost-benefits of technological approaches to
problem-solving courses already being implemented in the department at Warwick. Plans with the Mathematics Institute at Oxford include an investigation of
technological methods for student support, such as peer interaction through computer conferencing and problem-solving guidance through interactive web
pages. There is common interest in the use of computer assisted formative assessment to provide more effective student feedback on progress through the course work.