NUS Charter on Technology in HE

The NUS reported that it published a Charter on Technology in Higher Education on 3rd August 2011.  This is a timely contribution, especially from the perspective of the Digitally Ready project.

I’ll transcribe the 10 key points from their charter (because they are worth emphasising, but also so I don’t have to try to either read the ghastly format either on screen or waste lots of ink printing out its white-on-black format ever again!), and comment on how well they fit with the Digitally Ready project aims later:

1) All institutions should have an ICT strategy that is regularly updated
Enhancing learning, teaching and assessment through the use of technology is one of a number of ways in which institutions can address their strategic missions.   Institutions need to move beyond pockets of innovative practice to adopt an institution-wide approach ad consider ways that technology can improve both the student and staff experience.  It is important that students are key strategic partners in the formulation of this strategy and that the students’ union is involved in forming these strategies.

2) Institutions should invest in staff development and should give recognition to the effective use of technology in learning
Support should be given to help teaching staff develop technology-enhanced learning and innovation should be recognised, celebrated and shared.  The effective use of technologies should become embedded into the ethos of the institution and the practice of its staff.

3) All staff and students should receive comprehensive and appropriate training and support
Training must be holistic and practical to ensure that both students and staff utilise the full potential of digital technologies.  Students should be offered needs analyses of their capacity at the start of the programme to identify their requirements and staff should be offered regular training and development on how to make the most effective use of technology with their students.  All training should be properly accredited and support for staff should include training in both pedagogical and technical use.

4) Institutions should consider the accessibility and implications of technology-enhanced learning for all student groups.
It is imperative that institutions ensure that any technology used is made accessible to all.  This includes the entire diverse student population including part-time students, placement students, international students, distance learners, and learners with disabilities.   Additionally IT infrastructure needs to be sufficient for the demands placed on it and made available for all.

5) Innovative use of digital technology should be supported by the curriculum design process.
Institutions need to initiate more agile processes of curriculum design & delivery and  technology can provide the efficiencies and flexibility they need.  However, technology should be applied to enhance the teaching and learning experience and the methods used should be fully appropriate to the course studied.  The focus should be on learning design with the assistance of technology – supporting learning with technology.

6) Administration should be made more accessible through the use of technology, including e-submission, feedback and course management.
The use of technology in institutional administration will simplify and improve assessment, feedback, registration and module selection.  Technology should also be utilised to support effective communications within institutions for both students and staff.

7) Institutions should understand and highlight the link between technology-enhanced learning and employability.
Embedding the acquisition of digital literacy in the curriculum is essential as students face an increasingly competitive job market.  Technology should also be used for work with personal tutors to track and archive personal development.

8 ) Using technology to enhance learning and teaching should be a priority when making investment decisions
Appropriate IT infrastructure needs to be in place in order to maximise the potential of digital technologies in higher education.  Investment in this infrastructure should be a priority for institution to meet student expectation and demand, including wifi, appropriate learning spaces and access to computers.

9) Institutions should conduct wider research into student demand and perception of technology
Consultation with the student population will ensure that institutions are fully aware of demand and perception.  Wider research will also ensure that expectations of future students can also be understood and be responded to.  The institution should seek the advice and support of the students’ union in conducting this research.

10) Digital technologies should enhance teaching and learning but not be used as a replacement to existing effective practice.
Technology should be used to enhance teaching and learning but not act as replacement to quality teaching.  Retaining face-to-face contact time between academic staff and student as well  as peer-to-peer interaction is fundamental to providing a holistic learning experience.  Digital technologies should be used to enhance higher education with a blended teaching approach being adopted.

About patparslow

I am a researcher in the School of Systems Engineering, working in the fields of social media, digital identity and learning. I have previously worked in IT training/education, land survey, civil engineering, IT support, and as a software engineer.
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