Thursday, 23 April 2009
It is what you do with the tool that is important
I am currently the guest of Pyatigorsk State Linguistics University (PLSU) in Russia (http://www.pglu.ru/) and it is interesting to observe that culture and language make little difference to the problems and potential solutions to the effective use of technology in teaching and learning (T&L). It is often said that pedagogy is the key issue, and so it is, but it is only one part of the complex problem of using technology to support T&L. There are a number of others. One of the more important is to acknowledge that information and communication technologies (ICTs) offer new ways of working and to make this part of the strategic plan of the institution. This requries a significant input and vision from the senior management of the university. PLSU has such support, both from their Rector who is championing the changes, and key academic staff (Deans). Another key factor is the flexibility, willingness to listen and innovative approaches to solving problems by the information technology support group. PLSU has a young dynamic IT Head who sees opportunities rather than threats (e.g., tight budgets = work smarter by using free and open source software). A third factor is the willingness and support for staff to work in new ways. Change is always difficult but there is a synergy of key factors working together here and I am certainly learning a lot from interactions with the staff and students.