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Attracting and Teaching International Students in an Interactive World: Can We Adapt?

Innovators in education are using technology to produce better educational outcomes. Another set of innovators in academia are using technology to differentiate higher education program offerings and stand out in the global marketplace.

We will share a range of innovation trends in pedagogy with you today. Ever since we traveled to Australia and talked with UK universities last year for our last ebook on agent management, we have been spending more time evaluating and researching these markets. 

Today, we are sharing a little paper published by UK Open University *.

The report we reviewed, Innovating Pedagogy 2013: Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment to guide educators and policy makers, covers a broad range of pedagogy innovations. This report one takes us beyond MOOCs -- which we appreciated very much.

The authors summarize the current state, estimate the impact and timeframe for innovation, and provide helpful links to additional resources. We had to limit our summary below to two of trends (the first two bold bullet points). We encourage you to download the full report which provides insights into a fascinating list of topics: 

  • Learning from gaming: Exploiting the power of digital games for learning
  • Seamless learning: Connecting learning across settings, technologies and activities
  • MOOCs: Massive open online courses
  • Badges to accredit learning: Open framework for gaining recognition of skills and achievements
  • Learning analytics: Data-driven analysis of learning activities and environments
  • Crowd learning: Harnessing the local knowledge of many people
  • Digital scholarship: Scholarly practice through networked technologies
  • Geo-learning: Learning in and about locations
  • Maker culture: Learning by making
  • Citizen inquiry: Fusing inquiry-based learning and citizen activism

Maybe not so surprising, learning from gaming intrigues us as a concept and challenges us as parents of four teenagers who cannot be separated from their games. As digital markteters, we use engagement games and quizzes to generate interest in our university clients' programs among international students. The report summarizes their findings about games as follows:

"There is increasing interest in the connections between games and education. When implemented as "edutainment’ or ‘gamification’ of learning, teaching practices can gain superficial elements of entertainment and reward. This may encourage learners to continue, however misses the power of digital games for engagement, reflection and self-regulation. New approaches of ‘intrinsic integration’
are linking the motivational elements of games with specific learning activities and outcomes, so that the game-play is both engaging and educationally effective. Game designers can achieve this by developing games with elements of challenge, personal control, fantasy, and curiosity that match the pedagogy. They can manipulate aspects of ‘flow’ (a player’s feeling of absorption in the game) and strategy to produce a productive cycle of engagement and reflection. The shared endeavours, goals and practices in games also help build affinity groups gathering learners into productive and self-organising communities."  

We recognize that for many campuses, new interdisciplinary skill sets will be needed to develop such teaching gaming environments. And we imagine that the most likely source of these skill sets will be private service providers who invest in and develop platforms for academic departments. This structure is no different than text book publishers in the past. 


Seamless learning seems such an obvious idea but we don't hear much about it. The authors are describing the trend in the following way:

"Seamless learning (connecting learning experiences across the contexts of location, time, device and social setting) is moving from research to mainstream adoption. Mobile technologies enable learners of all ages to operate across contexts, for example schools allowing students to bring their own devices. Pedagogy is emerging, based on learners starting an investigation in class, then collecting data
at home or outdoors, constructing new knowledge with assistance from the software, and sharing findings in the classroom. There is also a broader notion of seamless learning arising from connected experience. Our activities online are increasingly matched to our interests: search pages order responses based on previous queries; websites recommend content related to our past viewing. The benefits are that personally relevant information may be readily at hand, but the danger is that we may come to believe that our views, preferences and connections are not just the most relevant, but all there is."

Our regular readers know that we are early technology adopters and we experiment with new ways to improve how we deliver relevant digital information at the right time to the right person across vastly varied international markets using many different technology platforms. The Open Universities Australia report shows that pedagogy is entering a fascinating phase of experimentation as well. 

Yet the underlying principle should be nothing new. Great teachers and great marketers have always tailored their content delivery and message to their audience. Technology is an ever present and increasingly flexible assistant to us. And the delivery channels continue to expand.

We all must adapt. Frankly, we're eager to give it a try. We hope you are too. 


Blog updated 2/27/2014. We apologize for the incorrect attribution of the report to the Open Universities Australia in the original version.