The challenge of educational technology
Technology is ubiquitous in universities and colleges, as it is in the rest of our lives. While traditional teaching methods (lectures, seminars and tutorials, labs, formal examinations) still flourish in higher education institutions, there are many commentators who feel that recent developments in information and communications technology will completely transform university teaching and learning, for example by allowing 'anytime/anyplace' learning, undermining the traditional role of libraries, and facilitating very different forms of communication among learners and between teachers and students. The potential is considerable and the claims for technology ambitious: that learning will be more active and interactive, more flexible, and will allow simulation of experiences that have been previously inaccessible. Of course these promises have been made before, for example with respect to television and main-frame computers (does anyone recall the claims made for the videodisc and 'videotec'?), and largely failed to have profound or permanent effects on teaching practice. But it seems plausible that this time things really are different, and that the information society will transform universities just as it is transforming many other institutions.
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