Preparing academic staff to use ICTs in support of student learning
There is pressure on academic staff to respond to changes produced by the increasing globalization of education markets, and the capacities of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to transform the ways education is delivered. This presents a serious challenge for many academics whose own formative educational experiences and professional orientations were shaped under different circumstances. This paper will focus on an innovative scheme designed to support university staff in their understanding and application of ICTs in student learning. The course was delivered to a small pilot group of experienced teaching staff who wished to explore the uses of ICTs. It aimed to provide an understanding of the available technologies, and how these might be utilized in the support of teaching, learning and assessment. Throughout the course's duration, one of the authors conducted an independent evaluative programme of research involving confidential questionnaires and observation sessions. The paper's two remaining authors have made further contributions as participant and course leader. Combining these sources of data, the paper reviews the course evaluation and discusses how staff approached the development and use of ICTs with varying levels of confidence, and with different practical issues and agendas concerning the incorporation of ICTs in teaching and learning. Placing the study's major themes within the changing contexts facing university staff, it concludes with a discussion of its wider implications for all practitioners involved in staff development that is both general and ICT-specific.