Does ICT provide choices of learners and learning in higher education

This post contains some initial thoughts for a potential paper for ASCILITE’2007, a conference that has as its theme “ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning”.

The full couple of paragraphs for the conference is

Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) provide many opportunities for learners and learning. High on the list of opportunities is the provision of choice. The informed use of ICT by institutions and their teachers supports flexibility and choice in what is to be learned, how it is learned, when it is learned and how it will be assessed.

The theme for ascilite 2007 focuses on catering for the diversity of learners and learning and how we as educators can provide stimulating and engaging learning environments and experiences for all our learners through the use of ICT in higher education.

The basic structure of my thoughts at the moment go something like this

  • Let’s accept that diversity for students is a good thing.
  • Let’s even accept that diversity in learning/teaching is going to be a given because of individual, discipline and other differences.
  • The trouble is that most learning and teaching at universities within Australia does not offer choices. At the extreme end it closes off choice and diversity.
  • Coates et al (2005) found that three quarters of Australia’s universities use Blackboard or WebCT as their LMS – the main form of ICTs used. They had this to say

    such trends….are somewhat surprising in a sector which claims to strive for diversity and innovation

  • As I’ve argued elsewhere I believe the lack of diversity and choice is because of the teleological design process that underpins every decision at universities.
  • I hope to use later blog posts (and the paper) to argue that the teleological approach and the nature of universities and the people inhabit them make a teleological design process completely inappropriate. I hope to show how an ateleological approach offers greater potential for enabling choice and increasing diversity….and that this is a good thing.


Hamish Coates, Richard James, Gabrielle Baldwin (2005), A Critical Examination of the Effects of Learning Management Systems on University Teaching and Learning, Tertiary Education an Management. 11:19-35

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