Learning and teaching with technology in higher education

The systematic review "Learning and teaching with technology in higher education" was commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

The systematic review answers the following research question: How can teaching with technology support student active learning in higher education? The systematic review was conducted in collaboration with SLATE (Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology) and has explored how technology is influencing educational practices in higher education institutions.

35 studies conducted in 14 countries, published between 2012-2018 are included in the systematic review. A configurative synthesis suitable for analysing findings from heterogenous studies has been conducted.

Because of an increasingly diverse student population and the expected exponential growth of demand for educational provision, higher education institutions currently face major changes. The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research has recently taken several initiatives to promote technology use in higher education institutions, both on infrastructure and related to teaching and learning.

The findings of this review suggest that technology use in higher education is adapted to traditional teaching practices, not challenging the tradition. The included studies show inertia in higher education institutions. Sharing of exemplary practices occurs only to a limited extent and staff shows reluctance to change. Teaching in higher education appears to be trapped in prescriptive practices inspired by a behaviourist idea about learning where teaching is perceived as one-way «delivery of content».

A core message in this systematic review is that technology implementation in higher education institutions must follow a scholarly approach to teaching and facilitate student active learning. This requires that teachers work collaboratively and know how to develop learning designs. Most studies included in the review stress the need for staff professional development related to the use of technology in teaching and learning.

Accordingly, technology implementation in higher education must follow a scholarly approach aligned with:

  • goals for teaching and research stated in national and institutional plans and strategies
  • what students expect to learn in higher education, tested in a variety of formats, evaluated and renewed in accordance with acknowledged and familiar academic work procedures,
  • big data, student feedback, teacher feedback and new research.

Importantly, this work needs leadership and can only be achieved through a collaborative effort.