Skip main navigation

Introduction to issues in learning and teaching

In the third week of the course we continue with our focus turns to pedagogical issues in learning and teaching.
© UNSW Sydney
In Week 3 of the course we focus on pedagogical issues in learning and teaching.
We start with blended and online learning as different modes of teaching. No matter what mode of teaching is used, the teacher needs to make sure that assessment is well-designed as both assessment and feedback play a pivotal role in the curriculum and in supporting student learning. Therefore, this week we will also begin to investigate the issue of assessment, and related issues of feedback and academic integrity.
Historically, teaching and learning have been conducted ‘in person’, in physical spaces and places where people would come together. The activities of teaching and learning were physical. As technologies advanced, ‘distance education’ emerged using such mediums as paper, post, radio, film, video and television. Today, the Internet, computers, tablets and smartphones have enabled further developments in integrating technology into the teaching context and opening up new ways to facilitate teaching and learning. Among other terminologies, ‘digital’, ‘online’, and ‘blended’ learning have become useful and practical concepts for integrating technology to facilitate teaching and learning.

Reflection point

Consider a course that you have taught or studied.
  • What was the role of technology in the course?
  • How did technology help students to learn?
(Keep a record for your ePortfolio)
As well as continuing to teach face-to-face teachers worldwide are engaging students online or in digital tasks for learning. Increasingly, universities ‘blend’ the face-to-face course with the online aspects of the course. Teaching in these complex environments provides both opportunities and challenges for teachers and learners.
Let’s explore what these terms mean.

Online learning

Online learning gives students access to their courses from a remote location. They can complete learning activities and assessments online that are equivalent to an on-campus course (UNSW, 2015).

Digital learning

Digital learning is any type of learning facilitated by technology or by instructional practice that makes effective use of technology. Digital learning occurs across all learning areas and domains. It covers the application of a wide spectrum of practices including: blended and virtual learning. (Education and Training, 2015).

Blended learning

Blended learning uses various combinations of traditional face-to-face learning experiences with online and mobile technologies. Blended learning can, but doesn’t have to, occur at the same time as face-to-face. These days many universities provide blended and online courses It is now one of the most significant technological trends driving educational change in higher education institutions (Johnson, et al., 2016, p. 1).
Blended learning can support student-centred approaches to learning. It enables teachers to move material that would usually be covered in class into the online or mobile environment, sharing the responsibility for learning with the student. The online components and the face-to-face time need to be integrated so that the learning experience is connected in the two modes. This requires thoughtful course design to make best use of both contexts.

Reflection point

What is your experience with blended learning?
(Keep a record for your ePortfolio)
Education and Training (2015). Teaching with Digital Technologies. Victoria State Government.
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Hall, C. (2016). NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
UNSW (2015). Blended and online learning.
© UNSW Sydney
This article is from the free online

Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education