Media and Learning 2010

Higher education and media resources - can universities keep up with student expectations and experience?

Join the discussion

Universities and high level institutions increasingly face a situation where students entering higher education are more regular users of media and ICT than academic staff.

Join the panelists:

  • Clive Young, University College London, UK
  • Rosanna de Rosa, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  • António Teixeira, Universidade Aberta, Portugal
  • Ferdinando Cabrini, Università Torino, Italy
  • André Rosendaal, Project Manager ICT in Education, Centre for ICT in Education (ICTOL), Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Moderator: Erik Duval, K.U.Leuven, Belgium


Conference Team

Can universities keep up with student expectations and experience when it comes to media applications and resources?
Should university staff try to adopt the media-rich services available to students nowadays when student users are often more skilled in their usage than staff? what are the most appropriate media applications to use for higher education? join our discussion and have your say!

André Rosendaal

To answer the question, it may help to identify who we see as ‘the university’. A possible though rough division of the university could be: university and faculty boards, educationalists, IT & Media experts, and teaching staff. And students, off course, but they play a separate role within this question. Secondly, and Rosanna’s remarks are helpful with this: what do we know about the expectations and experience of students?
Most important in education is a good pedagogical design and assessment. Use of media is derived from this, but (almost) never a goal in itself. It is therefore a means to achieve certain educational goals. Whether multimedia can or should be used is primarily a choice made by the teaching staff. However, now that we see a trend to make students partly responsible for their own education, and give them the opportunity to find their educational resources also outside the borders of the institution, it has also become a choice that we allow students to make. This requires from teachers that they are able to judge whether a certain media channel is valuable, and therefore they need to have at least a basic knowledge about different media channels. I am very much in favor of a so called Basic Teaching Qualification, which can assist teachers in acquiring the necessary competences for this. This qualification should be compulsory for all teachers, and knowledge of media should be part of it. I think this should have a greater attention than e.g. putting lectures online, which universities seem to do often for PR purposes and to attract new students, and not so much in support of their own students. This sometimes reflects a different attitude towards modern media between Board and teaching staff. Secondly, I would also like to stress that we mustn’t assume that students are way ahead of teachers when it comes to knowledge of media or computers in general. The idea of the ‘digital native’ is simply an over-simplification as e.g. Sue Bennett pointed out. Just as there is a huge difference between teachers when it comes to knowledge of the use of media, students differ widely in this respect. Ideally, the educational environment allows for these differences and supports individual learning styles.

Erik Duval

My experience with my own students certainly confirms the point that André makes about the diversity of media skills: some students know way more than I do about Cool Tools and some are still quite uncomfortable with very basic media skills. They all know how to use Facebook though ;-)

André also suggests to make compulsory a qualification for teachers that includes media skills. I wonder what others think about this suggestion? Is there not a danger that we keep imposing more and more formal requirements on teachers?

Do feel free to add your thoughts!

André Rosendaal

Personally I am not teaching any classes, so I could be accused of imposing a compulsory qualification and not being affected by it myself.... My university (and many others in the Netherlands) demand from newly applied teachers that they get this certificate, whereas others can get it voluntarily. The time investment is at least 80 hours, which can increase to over 200 hours if they make use of personal counseling. Yes, that's a lot of time, not only for the teachers but for the trainers/the organisation as well. However, I am convinced that even with all these educational tools around us, people still learn best from good, motivated, encouraging teachers. Assuming the qualification makes better teachers, students, teachers and institutions will benefit from the training, which off course is only partially aimed at IT-related competences. I think educational institutions should invest in the competences of their staff and not focus only on technical innovations. (Did I just say that? My job is to research and implement IT innovations in education....). It will surely help if teachers are compensated for attending the training sessions and the extra time they spend on this. And to relate this to the original question: I think that using media in education should be part of this training, because media play such a big role in our modern society, and increasingly in education.

António Moreira Teixeira

I agree with André's perspective. Given my own university is a distance learning institution, now operating fully online, this aspect of teacher training is vital. Anyway, I believe training in educational media should be a part of compulsory qualification for becoming an university teacher. In the case of the Portuguese Open University, this was a strategic decision that prooved to be a critical factor for the successful implementation of innovation. It helped improve the quality of learning process. Because, in order to assure quality in education we have to care not only for learners, but also teachers. In any case, I think students need to be trained in ICT competences as well. Even if most of them are much more familiar with the available technologies than teachers, they still need to learn about all the personal and social implications of the use of technology. Important notions as for instance the ethical issues related to the use of media should be a part of their education too.

Steven Malliet

This question could be raised with respect to primary and secondary schools as well.
To what degree do you think nowadays' teachers are aready willing and capable of doing this?

Erik Duval

It seems to me (caveat: based on anecdotal evidence only!) that the introduction of smartboards in many primary schools has accelerated the adoption of richer media by teachers? I'd be interested to see statistics or reports on this topic...

Andrew Watt

I think you are right Erik, the Smartboard has opened up a whole new range of tools for them to use, but I don't have any statistics - purely based on observation. However, sadly, I have begun to notice an increasing number of boards now standing idle because the bulb in the projector has gone and the school currently can't afford the huge cost of a new one!

Rosanna de Rosa

At the university of Naples, with the Federica Projects, we are triyng to use all kinds of media integrating them in a unic platform for orientation and web-learning. However, thanks to a survey aimed at exploring how our students are going to change their habits in using the information and the Ict's, we have learned that they are much more looking for simplicity, userfriendliness, and immediate availability of information as well as of fuctions (viewing, listening, playing, searching, counting, and so on are all features expected to be at their own fingertips and more important - embedded into media itself). The critical question should be: does the universities are becoming (and needs to be) an educational media channel? How to preserve the university's mission and, at same time, encountering the emerging studing styles?

Mathy Vanbuel

Re: "...universities are becoming (and need to be) an educational media channel...": that is an interesting point, and a point that probably will also be brought up during the conference by Deborah Arnold, Ferdinando Cabrini, Cecilia Edwall and colleagues from the EUTV - European University TV initiative. How will these media channels look like: will it be an enhanced TV as in Stanford, or a channel on YouTube? And how about iTunesU ?

Rosanna de Rosa

Few weeks ago I've been in Monaco for the iTunes U conference. Many universities all around the world are very much involved in iTunes U with different strategies and products. The Open University, for example, has clearly adopted a media-logic strategy while the Duke University seems to be devoted to the university mission allowing teachers, students and librarians to manage the iTunes U platform also in a private manner, as an institutional repository for all kind of materials.

Deborah Arnold

In 2006-2008 we carried out a small scale study of netgen students' needs and expectations (90 students in 6 member states) as part of the eLearning programme project eLene-TLC and presented at the Bremen Forum in April 2008.

Main conclusions:

- ICT should be up to date
- ICT should support collaborative work (social and interactive)
- ICT is a means to offer more service (web lectures)
- They don’t expect their university to be a front runner
- Quality of information needs more attention (4/6 countries)

You can find a PowerPoint summary of the results here:

If anyone is interested in the full report, please contact me:

Conor Galvin

@ Antonio Teixeira commentary; This notion of 'faculty' is a key one. Universities ARE in so many ways their faculty in the world as we know it. I am in many ways disconcerted by and deeply concerned about glib commentary on the qualitity control discourse... what we (try ) to do in the university is too important.

25 - 26 November 2010 Flemish Ministry of Education Headquarters, Brussels
SMART Intel Adobe Microsoft