Enhancing on-line teaching: Designing responsive learning environments
Higher education is undergoing major changes in the development and delivery of courses. These changes arise from a range of social, economic and technical factors operating across the higher education sector. The use of technology in both teaching and learning is both a response to, and a reason for, these changed practices. Technology provides new ways of catering for the traditional learning needs of students and also enables new forms of support appropriate to technology-based delivery. One of the outcomes of the increased use of technology is the development of on-line approaches to teaching and learning. This requires a reconceptualization of the role of support mechanisms for students, which has implications for the professional development of academic staff. This article considers the ways in which the wider trends in education impact upon on-line learning environments and the implications of this for professionals involved in the development and delivery of the courses. Particular consideration will be given to the range of approaches of support in online delivery, which include stand-alone resources and generic support, parallel or adjunct learning opportunities, and integrated strategies. It examines these in relation to the characteristics of pedagogically defensible teaching activity and proposes ways of conceptualising the work practices of professional staff involved in student support, professional development, discipline-based teaching and resource development.