Policy briefs

Learning Analytics

Learning Analytics is a rapidly growing research field and commercial , with potentially disruptive potential. While educationalresearchers have for many years used computational techniques toanalyse learner data, generate visualizations of learning dynamics,and build predictive models to test theories — for the first time, these techniques are becoming available to educators, learners and policy makers. Learning analytics promise is to transform educational research into a data-driven science, and educational institutions into organisations that make evidence-based decisions. However, critical debate is needed on the limits of computational modelling, the ethics of analytics, and the educational paradigms that learning analytics promote.

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Alternative Models of Education Delivery

The key goal of this Policy Brief is to produce a number of alternative models of education delivery in the formal education sector. It was felt that the creation of five alternative models would sufficiently populate the various subsectors of formal education. The models have to be “archetypal” in the sense of being easy and quick to describe, memorable, repeatable to others without distortion, and translatable into other languages. In practical terms they should also be generalisable, scalable, sustainable, deployable without further research, and deliverable in most high-income economies. For each model the features, the advantages and the disadvantages are outlined, followed by the policy shifts (if any) necessary to facilitate their development. The models described are an ICT-rich primary school, a virtual supplementary school for specialist subjects (e.g. science), a college model based on OER for trade skills, the Multeversity (a 21st century reconceptualisation of the 20th century polytechnic/university of applied science) and a support/network model for research intensive elite universities.

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How Technology Can Change Assessment

Many discussions of technology-based assessments concentrate on automating current methods of testing to save time and cost. However, technology also changes what educators can assess, how and when to assess it, and for what purpose. Assessments can be embedded in ICTs, and have the potential to measure learning processes, in addition to end-of-lesson knowledge. Technology-aided assessments are useful not only in the evaluation of ICTs, but also as part of the design process, leading to iterative improvement. This brief focuses on assessment in ICTs, discussing how technology-enabled assessments can be leveraged to improve ICT design and student learning.

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ICT and General Administration in Educational Institutions

This policy briefing provides an overview of the Information and Communication Technologies that are used to support educational administration. It covers the full range of technologies used to support learning, teaching and research. This includes technologies used to support learners from their initial inquiries about courses through to graduation, technologies to support teachers in the design and delivery of teaching and technologies to support the research lifecycle from bidding through to project management and fi nally research dissemination. In particular it highlights the importance of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) to support learning and teaching. It concludes with a set of recommendations for institutions.

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ICTs in TVET

Major research projects by different international organizations concentrate on the “21st century competencies” in our knowledge economy driven by technology. The efforts aim at finding indicators, criteria, and benchmarks for international comparisons in order to assess the effects of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in education.1 Recent documents emphasize innovation strategies for education and training. Attention is given to skills and needs used by modern firms, working population, and also in the arts and science education.2 In Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) there is a tendency to emphasize the “learning by doing” approach.

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ICTs and Teacher Competencies

Technology is a critical component of education in the 21st century; today’s students live in a global world and need to compete intellectually with peers worldwide. Data suggest that digital tools and strong pedagogy may help schools employ the best strategies for student achievement of both traditional and 21st-century skills. The goal of information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives in schools is not simply to use ICTs more effectively in teaching; rather, the goal is to impact and improve economic development at many levels through the use of ICTs. Learners around the world are comfortable using technology for daily connecting, creating, and sharing.

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Digital natives: How do they learn? How to teach them?

Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) have changed our societies. Not only they provided us with new techniques and tools; they are also changing many core concepts and values. The relationship people have with technology is changing, and new social behaviors are appearing: we collaborate with peers in new ways; we network with others. Knowledge is changing; access to and acquisition of knowledge are changing; the ways in which we work with others are changing. In this digital society, a new generation has emerged: the digital natives. Who are they? How different are they? How do they learn? How can one teach them? Such questions are now raised for all education systems.

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New-Generation Electronic Educational Resources

The importance of enhancing quality, effectiveness and accessibility of education has been discussed all over the world for many years. Fast-paced information production and the necessity of continuing upgrade of skills are no longer a subject of debate in newspapers and magazines – the problem has fallen into the background and become a commonplace. The time has come to find a radical solution, which would make it possible to expand access and ensure improved effectiveness and quality of education.

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Diversification of learning platforms

A learning platorm is an integrated set of resources, tools, and interactive online services for teachers, learners, and others involved in education to support and enhance educational delivery and management (Wikipedia, 2011). The term ‘learning platform’ often refers to a number of tools and services available in a range of products known by various names, including learning management system (LMS), virtual learning environment (VLE), course management system (CMS) and learning content management system (LCMS) providing learning experiences and content management. The term ‘learning platform’ also includes the personal learning environment (PLE) that helps learners to keep control and manage their own learning by personalizing the content and process.

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ICTs and Indigenous People

Although worldwide there has been significant growth in access to computers and the Internet, the lack of access to such resources continues to be a major form of social and economic exclusion for many peoples across the globe. Among these are indigenous peoples who, both in developing and developed countries, often experience the greatest disparity in access to the educational opportunities afforded by information and communication technologies (ICTs).

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Digital literacy in education

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have penetrated all areas of contemporary life. In this context, digital literacy has become much more than the ability to handle computers – just like traditional literacy and numeracy, it comprises a set of basic skills which include the use and production of digital media, information processing and retrieval, participation in social networks for creation and sharing of knowledge, and a wide range of professional computing skills. Digital literacy improves employability because it is a gate skill, demanded by many employers when they first evaluate a job application. It also works as a catalyst because it enables the acquisition of other important life skills.

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Cost-benefit Modelling for Open Learning

Open learning provides flexible remote access to learning that enables people to study and achieve qualifications ‘any place, any time’. Information and communication technologies make this possible by providing online access to the digital resources and student-tutor communications needed for study.
The growth of open learning is already outstripping the growth of campus learning, but economic viability is often difficult to achieve for the full range of the curriculum. Initial costs are high and must be managed over the long term to be sure that ICT yields its two main benefits: access to education for large student numbers, and high quality support for independent learning.
This policy brief provides a model and recommendations that keep per capita costs as low as possible and learning benefits as high as possible, by fully exploiting what ICTs have to offer.

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Social Media for Learning by Means of ICT

Social media enable human relationships through technology. In other words, social media are the media for social interaction. The two most visible applications of social media are the building and consolidation of friendships among youngsters, and the building of networks for career development. The two “hottest” applications of social media are marketing and advertising for political/ideological purposes. In social media, just as occurs with the Web2.0, users have become producers and co-creators.

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ICTs for New Engineering Education

The severe shortage of qualified engineering work force is creating social and economical crisis on a global scale. Two of the observable factors are the shortage of engineering school enrolment and the quality gap between engineering education and society’s needs on engineering talents. To address these issues, it is necessary to reform existing engineering and technology education. This document presents a five-layered model to set up a new, ICT-enabled vision for engineering education.
ICTs can play an important catalytic role in the improvement of engineering education on a global scale. When educators and policy makers employ ICTs as a strategic instrument to enable student-centred learning activities on an Internet-wide scale, it would be possible to implement an improved engineering education paradigm that addresses the global engineering talent shortage problem.

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Open educational resources and intellectual property rights

Open Educational Resources (OER) are starting to have impact in influencing those that are planning educational policy as governments look for ways to meet ambitious targets at lower costs and also altering the way institutions can collaborate by making it much easier to share content. OER also have the potential to support more informal ways to learn that might mean new opportunities in working with learners or the need for existing providers of education to change their approaches.

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Mobile learning for quality education and social inclusion

Mobile learning is part of a new learning landscape created by the availability of technologies supporting flexible, accessible, personalized education. Learners’ everyday uses of mobile phones and other devices such as games consoles, which can also be used for learning, are now major drivers for the rapid uptake of mobile learning throughout the world. Crucially, mobile learning can contribute to the global commitment to provide quality education for children, youth and adults, as expressed in the goals of Education for All (EFA).

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Global trends in the development and use of open educational resources to reform educational practices

This policy brief examines the major trends in the development and use of open educational resources (OER). It notes the growing expansion in the quantity of OER and how that is already impacting learners, teachers, educational institutions and governments. It argues that to be truly successful in improving educational opportunity and attainments OER are a necessary stimulus for a broader shift in opening up educational policies and practices. It concludes that such a cultural change needs a wider societal change to thinking of educational resources as largely a public rather than a private good.

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ICT for Inclusion: Reaching More Students More Effectively

Persons with disabilities have traditionally been excluded from receiving an equitable education as the result of attitudinal, physical and infrastructural barriers within educational systems and throughout wider society. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can enable persons with disabilities to receive an equitable education and facilitate them to reach their full potential as productive and integrated members within society. This policy guide provides policy makers with advice on the development of systematic and comprehensive policies that will contribute to the integration of persons with disabilities into the national educational systems through the use of ICTs.

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Cloud computing in education

This policy brief discusses the phenomenon which has become known as cloud computing, analyzing the benefits and risks for educational institutions and examining some of the legal and contractual issues. It provides guidelines for the selection on and deployment of cloud services and suggests some policy implications and future scenarios for their use in education.

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