Palgrave Teaching and Learning

by Sally Brown (Series Editor)

Supporting technology-enhanced learning

Post-millennial technologies have indubitably changed the nature of pedagogy, since learning contexts nowadays encompass a wide variety of electronic and mobile technologies alongside traditional hard copy media including books, lecture notes, handouts, blackboards and other resources. The available technologies don’t change the essential processes of learning, but potentially alter the opportunities for engagement with them. Mayes and de Freitas describe effective learning as combining associationist approaches, which model learning as the gradual building of associations and skill components, with cognitive perspectives, using learners’ attention, memory and concept formation processes, and situative perspectives, involving influences from social and cultural settings. They suggest that:
As technology-enhanced learning tools become truly powerful in their capability, and global in their scope, so it becomes more feasible to remodel the educational enterprise as a process of empowering learners to take reflective control of their own learning.
(Mayes and de Freitas, 2013, p. 28)

Advice on using learning technologies

Make full use of the key strengths of the currently available technologies to:
  • Enable learners to access huge volumes of information without requiring intermediaries to locate and interpret it for them, as was formerly the case when academics had privileged ready access to books and libraries, and advanced expertise in using canonical knowledge to inform their lectures.
  • Remove time barriers and drudgery from the task of accessing data. Whereas in the past those seeking to locate and make connections between academic texts often had to wait to physically find and use books and papers through citation indices, inter-library loans and the like, learners with access to the internet through fixed or mobile devices can undertake tasks in moments that took weeks or months in previous eras.
  • Provide occasions for networking with others that can span national, geographic and intellectual boundaries.
  • Offer peer-to-peer learning opportunities, so information-sharing and peer critique can occur at a local and global level.
  • Reduce barriers for students with disabilities to learn and interact with one another. Technologies can allow students with visual impairments or dyslexia, for example, to access texts in alternative formats on their own devices, without waiting as in the past for others to supply Braille books or audio recordings. Students with mobility or confidence issues, or those with caring commitments, similarly can participate in classes without physically attending a particular building at a particular time.
  • Potentially democratise learning, so that students with financial constraints can freely access Open Educational Resources and Massive Open Online Courses.


Adapted from Chapter 2 of Brown, S. (2015) Learning, Teaching and Assessment in Higher Education: Global perspectives, London: Palgrave.

Mayes, T. and de Freitas, S. (2013) Technology Enhanced learning, in H. Beetham and R. Sharpe, Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing for 21st century learning, 2nd edn, Abingdon: Routledge.