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International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education
From the editors
Reviewer acknowledgment 2016
Reviewer acknowledgement 2017
Technology enhanced learning or learning driven by
David Baneres 1,2, Denise Whitelock 3, Eric Ras 4, Abdulkadir Karadeniz 5, Ana-Elena Guerrero-Roldán 1,2, M. Elena
1 D. Baneres, A.E Guerrero-Roldán and M.E. Rodríguez are with the Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications Department,
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona 08018, Rambla del Poblenou 156, Spain
2 D. Baneres, A.E Guerrero-Roldán and M.E. Rodríguez are with eLearn Center Department, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona 08018,
Rambla del Poblenou 156, Spain.
3 D. Whitelock is with Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, United Kingdom
4 Eric Ras is with Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, 5 Avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, L-4363 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
5 A. Karadeniz is with Open Education Faculty, Anadolu University, Yunus Emre Campus, 26470, Eskisehir, Turkey
Students’ expectations have evolved during the last decade about how and when to study. Traditional teaching
methodologies based on static material or master classes are not always the best approach to promote learning. Information
and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been introduced to enhance the way the teaching process is undertaken.
Utilizing ICT in education, or in other words, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), can facilitate efficient e-learning
models where technology helps learners to build their knowledge and develop competencies. Online learning is continuously
promoting new methodologies for learning by using technology as a cornerstone for this type of development and
performance. Onsite teaching focuses on maintaining the interest of the learner by applying active learning or by moving to
blended learning and using the technology as a new resource in the learning process. Thus, instructors and practitioners face
revolutionary changes in teaching methodologies since the introduction of TEL. Technology is evolving incredibly fast, new
trends are appearing and, also, the expectations of all actors (i.e., teachers and learners) are changing. TEL is helping to
develop new teaching methodologies, yet technology is not the only resource to foster students’ knowledge. The intended
technology should be examined based on the pedagogical necessity and integrated into education models. Because of this
comprehension, this thematic series mainly focuses on disseminating learning experiences and critical studies enhanced by
technology and not compelled by the use of technology.
Technology Enhanced learning, active learning, e-assessment, pedagogical models, innovative teaching technologies.
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”
The organization of instruction is a form that is built on previous practices and, it has a sustainability principle. According to
Dewey quoted above, the instruction should aim the development of its own structure as well as it aims to the development
of inputs after a certain period of time. This development will undoubtedly lead to better structuring as it is built on previous
processes just like technology. The improvement in technology is similarly continuous, and the basic intention of technology
is to advance human life. Considering that education is an imperative part of human life, we can imagine how significant the
literal link between technology and education is. Therefore, we can state that advancement in technology has a reasonable
impact on teaching manners and students learning, which are the basic inputs of the teaching and learning processes. It is
perceived that the expectations of students have remarkably changed recently. Likewise, Rotherman and Willingham (2010)
emphasize that a growing number of business leaders, politicians, and educators are united around the idea that students
need “21st-century skills” to be successful today. Therefore, educational environments need to have better content, better
teaching, and better tests and activities to enhance these skills. In order to suffice these expectations and to perform crucial
learning experiences, various learning models, pedagogical approaches and technologies should be utilized.
E-learning appeared many years ago in a way totally different we face today. We can start explaining that the first e-learning
course was by correspondence in 1840 by Isaac Pitman or the first testing machine in 1924, but for this thematic series, it is
better to start in the digital era where delivery methods and tools were improved with web-based communication
technologies. Gerstein (2014) defines this new era as Education 3.0 where “Education 3.0 recognizes that each educator's
and student's journey is unique, personalized, and self-determined”. Other experts expect that education will change work
contexts with the fourth industrial revolution (World Economic Forum, 2017). In any case, technology is playing a crucial
role in this era and looking at the education as never has been seen before.
This change impacts all types of education levels, from elementary to higher education, but nowadays the impact in the
economy and society is expected in higher education. Universities are preparing students for an uncertain future with new
jobs needs, and they have to respond to this new challenge with the support of technology. Better learning environment
spaces, better tools to communicate, better tools to practice skills, or better tools to support teacher’s work. These are some
examples of where technology can impact. Thus, technology has not to be seen as a sustaining factor of the current learning
methodologies, it has to be seen as a disruptive factor to reinforce the new economy and industry.
This thematic series collects some advances in technology-enhanced learning related to higher education contexts. We tried
to choose some relevant studies, where technology is used during the learning process. Also, selected papers where
technology-enhanced environments with student-centered methodologies are compared with more traditional
methodologies. Note that, this is a small selection of works for this topic. More relevant papers can be found within the
journal or specific conferences on TEL such as the International Technology Enhanced Assessment Conference (TEA ). We
invite the readers to visit those sources to read other relevant works.
In order to introduce this special issue, we propose a review of the different topics of the thematic series and how technology
is crucial on its development when learning is taking place. Section 2 introduces innovative teaching methodologies in
Higher Education. Section 3 describes pedagogical models and theories underpinning technology-enhanced learning.
Section 4 contains how technology helps on active learning, while Section 5 explains several innovations actions in
Innovative teaching methodologies in higher education
Nowadays, teaching methodologies have been undoubtedly impacted by technology. Their evolution is not only by the
technology intervention, but the need of involving students in the learning process (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). Teacher-
centered approaches have evolved into student-centered ones. This has contributed to engaging student on the learning
process and not only be “empty vessels who passively receive knowledge” (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). Based on Weimer
(2002), student-centered approaches “focus attention squarely on learning: what the student is learning, how the student is
learning, the conditions under which the student is learning, whether the student is retaining and applying the learning, and
how current learning positions the student for future learning”.
Based on the distinction between teacher- and student-centered approaches and based on technology use, teaching
methodologies can be classified into four types. The less technological and teacher-centered approaches are traditional
instruction in face-to-face learning environments. Here, direct instruction (Adams & Engelmann, 1996) can be found where
the teaching strategy relies on explicit teaching through lectures; or kinesthetic (also known as hands-on) approach (Begel,
Garcia & Wolfman, 2004) where students perform practical activities rather than listening to lectures. Technology helped to
improve teacher-centered approaches. Flipped classroom (Bergmann, & Sams, 2012) is a clear example where technology
helped to switch the teaching structure by leaving recorded lectures for homework and then, employing in-class time on
performing assignments and promoting discussion. Although one may think the flipped classroom is a more student-
centered approach, this method still relies on the idea of the teacher as the main authority figure.
When we analyze student-centered approaches, there are also methodologies where technology is not mandatory to be used.
An example is a differentiated instruction that Tomlinson (2005) defined as “a philosophy of teaching that is based on the
premise that students learn best when their teachers accommodate the differences in their readiness levels, interests and
learning profiles”. Thus, this instruction is a student-centered approach that provides students with different resources,
activities, and learning processes based on their needs according to teacher evaluation. Another example is expeditionary
instruction (Klein & Riordan, 2011) commonly used in schools or professional development where students go to
expeditions and consequently they are engaged in an in-depth study of topics that impact their knowledge.
Focusing on the utilization of technology, we can find inquiry-based instruction (Edelson, Gordin, & Pea, 1999) where
students acquire knowledge through finding information, resources and asking questions. Here the teacher’s role changes to
be a facilitator that guides students throughout their learning process. Note that here, technology is a valuable asset when
seeking information or presenting the findings as videos, websites or presentations.
Another approach is personalized learning. We can define it as an evolution of the differentiate learning with the main
difference that it is the learner who decides what and how to learn. The United States National Education Technology Plan
(2017) defined personalized learning as “instruction in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are
optimized for the needs of each learner. Learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content (and its
sequencing) may all vary based on learner needs”. Technology is relevant to facilitate the instruction as Pogorskiy (2015)
stated as “ICT and communications technology can be a powerful tool for personalized learning as it allows learners access
to research and information, and provides a mechanism for communication, debate, and recording learning achievements”.
Finally, game-based learning (Prensky, 2003) is also another student-centered approach which also requires high use of the
technology to provide the environment to learn. Students learn through games by solving exercises or solving problems.
Engagement is enhanced by using game-based techniques such badges, achievements, and quests, among others.
In this scope, we propose two case studies. The first one is “Comparison of pharmacy students randomized to receive drug
information reference education via recording or interactive Moodle lesson” by Wisniewski & Hortman (Wisniewski &
Hortman, 2019). It is a comparison of traditional direct instruction with personalized learning instruction with Moodle.
Authors showed a considerable improvement in retention on learners who learned by the online lectures. The second case
study is “Enhancing students’ written production in English through flipped lessons and simulations” by Angelini & García-
Carbonell (Angelini & García-Carbonell, 2019). Authors evaluated the learning process based on web-based simulations
with a flipped classroom approach for learning a foreign language. The evaluation demonstrates the effectiveness of such
combination in the student’s written production.
3. Pedagogical models and theories underpinning Technology Enhanced Learning
When technology met learning, some authors found that technology was not innovating the learning process, but learning
processes were technologized. Ravenscroft (2001) claimed that “the industry was technology-led rather than theory-led (the
e-learning)”. Similarly, Nichols (2003) was concerned about e-learning conceptualization and claimed that “It is unlikely
that e-learning practice will continue to evolve unless the theoretical underpinnings of e-learning are explored and debated”.
Some authors put effort into defining new theoretical frameworks to support e-learning based on pre-existent learning
theories. A relevant work can be found in Anderson & Dron (2011) where the combination of traditional models was
analyzed in distance learning supported by technology.
Note that, those models helped to create new pedagogical models. Some of those models appeared when technology was
capable to support them. One example is open learning. D’Antoni (2007) defined “Open and distance learning seeks to make
education more open to those who need or wish for alternative opportunities to the traditional system”. With the support of
the technology, open learning was accessible for the citizens by the use of web-based communication technologies and
creating spaces such as MOOCs platforms (Pappano, 2012), and elaborating free resources such as open educational
resources - OER (Atkins, Brown, & Hammond, 2007).
Another example is learning communities (also known as communities of practice) where learners who have some common
academic goals, join to advance in their acquisition of knowledge. This is not a new concept. Smith (1993) defined “the
learning community approach fundamentally restructures the curriculum, and the time and space of students. […] learning
community models intentionally link together courses or coursework to provide greater curricular coherence, more
opportunities for active teaming, and interaction between students and faculty”. Technology (Dede, 2004) has helped to
create large learning communities previously limited by time and space constraints by using web-based, synchronous and
asynchronous technological tools.
A variant of the previous one is a knowledge building community where the main goal is not the acquisition of knowledge
but its construction. The first conception appears in the nineties in Scardamalia & Bereiter’ (1994) work where authors
proposed this type of communities to foster learning with the utilization of nineties technology (e.g., CD-ROM). However,
similar to the learning communities, the knowledge building communities have increased in size and relevance with web-
based communication technologies. A clear example is Wikipedia (Korfiatis, Poulos & Bokos, 2006).
In this scope, we present two case studies. The first case study entitled “Promoting open educational resources based
blended learning” by Sandanayake (Sandanayake, 2019), proposes an evaluation on Open Educational Resources (OER) in a
blended setting. The study shows the effectiveness of their utilization in performance and opinion. The second case study
namely “Persuasive Technology for Enhanced Learning Behavior in Higher Education” by Widyasari, Nugroho, &
Permanasari, (Widyasari, Nugroho, & Permanasari, 2019) is related to the application of persuasive technology. As stated by
Mintz & Aagaard (2010), persuasive technology is built from behaviorism pedagogical model, social-cultural theory and
cognitive psychology. We consider this case study interesting to analyze how such systems can impact on the behavior of the
4. Active learning methodologies
Across the years, technology also enhanced active learning methodologies. These techniques were initially proposed in the
eighties due to the urge of involving students in the learning process. Chickering & Gamson (1987) suggested that “students
must do more rather than just listen: They must read, write, discuss, or be engaged in solving problems. Most important, to
be actively involved, students must engage in such higher-order thinking tasks as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation”.
Following this statement, Bonwell & Eison (1991) defined active learning as “any instructional method that engages
students in the learning process. In short, active learning requires students to do meaningful learning activities and think
about what they are doing”.
Many traditional strategies have been defined to better engage students in classrooms. Prince (2004) summarized those
strategies as two core elements of active learning: Introducing the student activity during a traditional lecture and promoting
student engagement. Many works empirically supported the effectiveness of these core elements (Ruhl, Hughes, & Schloss,
1987; Hake, 1999; Laws, Sokoloff, & Thornton, 1999; Wankat, 2002).
With the irruption of technology on education, supporting active learning has been easier in all educational contexts. In
traditional contexts, computer-equipped classrooms fostered active learning. Note that, it differs from computer-assisted
classrooms as Holbert, Karady (2009) stated, “A computer-assisted classroom is defined as that having a single computer for
instructor use only, whereas a computer-based classroom provides each student or pair of students with a computer”. The
computer-equipped classrooms help instructors and learners to collaboratively work by, for instance, sharing solved
exercises (Simon, Anderson, Hoyer, & Su, 2004), meanwhile the latter promotes simply an exhibition of prepared slides.
In online context, technology has generated new ways of delivering education. Learners are able to practice and acquire
skills. Sophisticated online games have been developed to foster collaborative communication skills, creativity, and critical
thinking. Some examples can be found in different knowledge areas like nutrition (Mellecker, Witherspoon & Watterson,
2013), medical (Telner, Bujas-Bobanovic, Chan, et al., 2010), or nursing (Boctor, 2013) among others. Augmented reality
and virtual worlds are also substituting the real fieldwork. In this regard, taking a virtual role helps to build empathy and a
better understanding. Some examples can be found in aerospace design (Okutsu, DeLaurentis, Brophy, & Lambert, 2013),
architecture engineering construction (Rahimian, Arciszewski, & Goulding, 2014) or chemistry laboratory (Ali, Ullah,
Alam, & Rafique, 2014), among others.
Within this scope, we propose the paper “Integration of good practices of active methodologies with the reuse of student-
generated content” by Arruabarrena, Sánchez, Blanco, Vadillo, & Usandizaga (Arruabarrena, Sánchez, Blanco, Vadillo, &
Usandizaga, 2019). It proposes a list of good practices related to active learning methodologies and they have been tested in
a qualitative manner in different subjects in higher education.
5. Assessment and Evaluation in Technology Enhanced Learning
One great contribution of technology is the one related to assessment or better denoted as “e-assessment”. Guàrdia, Crisp
and Alsina (2017) defined e-assessment as “the use of ICT to facilitate the entire assessment process, from designing and
delivering assignments to marking, […] reporting, storing the results and/or conducting the statistical analysis”.
Technology offers new opportunities for assessment. The learning process can be more student-centered and activities can
be even providing practice for complex cognitive skills to prepare students for the professional world (Crisp, 2009). There
are several technologies for enhancing assessment: multi-choice test (Bull & McKenna, 2004; Conole & Warburton, 2005;
Jordan, 2012), rubric-based (Dornisch & McLoughlin, 2006), peer review (Loddington, Pond, Wilkinson, & Willmot, 2009;
Barbera ,2009), e-portfolios (JISC, 2008; Whitelock, 2010), among others.
However, sometimes there is some misunderstandings about the potential of the application of technology in e-assessment.
As it is mentioned by the European Commission (2012) e-assessment brings an added value. Adopting e-assessment
involves much more than introducing online technologies into the assessment process; it means supporting effective
learning. In JISC 2010, the same conclusion is highlighted: “Effective assessment and feedback can be defined as practice
that equips learners to study and perform to their best advantage in the complex disciplinary fields of their choice, and to
progress with confidence and skill as lifelong learners, without adding to the assessment burden on academic staff.
Technology [...] offers considerable potential for the achievement of these aims”.
This leaves us with the question of how assessment with feedback can assist students to perform to their best advantage?
Digital feedback is moving forward more quickly with the advent of learning analytics. Data can now be collected
unobtrusively and during learning activities. However, collecting more student data does not necessarily mean that it can
provide “just in time” good teaching guidance. It is the latter which is advocated by Whitelock (2011) who suggests good
feedback provides “Advice for Action” to the student. Tutors can be assisted to give this type of feedback using
OpenMentor (Whitelock et al., 2012b), an open source system that analyses tutor feedback. One of the problems which
students experience with tutor feedback is that socio-emotive support can be neglected while only cognitive feedback is
supplied by the tutor. More importantly, the feedback also needs to be relevant to the assigned grade (as demonstrated by
Whitelock, Watt, Raw & Moreale, 2004).
With OpenMentor feedback is not seen as error correction but as part of the dialogue between student and tutor. This is
important since thinking of students making errors is unhelpful and as Norman (1988) points out, errors are better thought of
as approximations to correct action. Therefore, tutor feedback should move the student in the right direction.
In order to provide feedback OpenMentor has first to analyze the tutor comments on an assignment and classify them into a
number of categories. The system then compares the categories used by the tutor with the mark they have awarded to the
student. The classification system used in OpenMentor was based on that of Bales (1950). Bales’ model provides four main
categories of integration: positive reactions, negative reactions, questions and answers.
OpenMentor has been used in anger by Southampton University and Kings College London (Whitelock et al, 2012a; 2012b)
and it has had a positive effect on tutors’ feedback practice. Marking students’ work is always a challenge but we need to
maintain our empathy with the learner. Tools like OpenMentor can assist with prompting tutors to provide both emotional
support and conceptual guidance but how can we ensure that the feedback is given to the student who actually wrote and
submitted the given assignment?
E-Assessment is also capable of enforcing authentication and authorship in education. Online monitoring, also known as
proctoring systems, simulates face-to-face assessment in virtual environments. Companies such as Kryterion or ProctorU
offer this type of systems. Learners can perform an e-assessment activity while they are monitored through webcam.
However, scalability depends on the infrastructure and number of proctors the company is able to provide. Other companies,
such as Safe Exam Browser (http://www.safeexambrowser.org/) or Secure Exam (http://www.softwaresecure.com/),
proposed a more automated proctoring. Here, the system creates a controlled environment on the learner’s computer by
blocking undesirable applications and connections to online resources and monitoring all the actions performed by the
learner. Those systems are highly intrusive, and sometimes the learner may feel anxiety due to the security constraints to
perform the assessment activities. Here the personal data regulation plays an important role.
However, other methodologies have recently appeared. They are focusing on being less intrusive by applying technologies
previously applied in other areas such as banking or security. An example is the TeSLA system (Peytcheva-Forsyth, 2017)
where biometric recognition and plagiarism methods have been integrated into a unique environment. Keystroke detection
(Peacock, Ke, & Wilkerson, 2004; Choraś & Mroczkowski, 2007), forensic analysis (Koppel & Winter, 2014; García-
Gorrostieta, López-López, & González-López, 2018), face recognition (Sinha, Balas, Ostrovsky, & Russell, 2006), voice
recognition (Kinnunen, Karpov, & Franti, 2006) and plagiarism detection (Alzahrani, Salim & Abraham, 2012) can be
deployed during an e-assessment activity to check the identity and the authorship of the learner.
6. Concluding Remarks
Presently, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. In such a state, education cannot be expected to settle in
traditional ways. As in every area, education must continue its transformation with the support of technology. When this
transformation commences occurring correctly, we can say that the learning process will be affected positively. Technology-
enhanced learning environments not only promote the transfer of content but also support to use strong e-assessment
methods. These environments are directed towards active participation of teachers and students and interaction between
them. The usage of technology-enhanced learning environments contributes students to develop analytical thinking and
problem-solving skills. It also facilitates teachers to follow the learner status, organize the feedback system, and monitor her
In this paper, we have presented the benefits of using technology into the education of the digital era, but also separately the
benefits on different aspects of the education. The change is unavoidable, educational landscape is changing, and it is being
adapted to the society new needs. The effects were foreseen some years ago, but nobody knows how the change will be
complete. We will observe this shaping, and the teachers and the learners will play an important role.
This work is partially supported by the European Union (H2020-ICT-2015) through the TeSLA project (An adaptive Trust-
based e-assessment System for Learning). Number 688520 and the eLearn Center at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
through the project: New Goals 2018NG001 "LIS: Learning Intelligent System”.
Also, we would like to thank the Technology-enhanced knowledge and interaction group (TEKING) research group at
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya for its support on completing this editorial due to its expertise on technology-enhanced
learning, e-assessment processes, knowledge technologies and their application in the knowledge society.
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