Increasing Flexibility in Lifelong Learning through the use of technology in Irish Higher Education: A Conceptual Framework

Cashman, Sarah Jane and Wall, John (2016) Increasing Flexibility in Lifelong Learning through the use of technology in Irish Higher Education: A Conceptual Framework. In: Waterford Institute of Technology - Research Day 2016, Waterford Institute of Technology.

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Poster - Increasing Flexibility in Lifelong Learning through the use of technology in Irish Higher Education - A Conceptual Framework - Sarah Jane Cashman.pdf

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Background: A 50% increase in annual entrants to the Irish Higher Education sector is expected by 2025; with the bulk of this increase accounted for by adult, lifelong, learners, (DES, 2011). This sectoral expansion is happening against the backdrop of reduced funding and staffing levels. The challenge for the sector is effectively preparing for this expansion despite these reductions and while maintaining high levels of service to traditional full-time learners. A system with an emphasis on lifelong learning through flexible delivery is the key to planning for future demand, (DES, 2011; European Commission, 2015). Technology enhanced learning, TEL, may be seen as at the centre of flexible lifelong learning because it facilitates learning at any time and any place. Flexible lifelong learning allows unprecedented opportunities for access to education as learning can fit around, rather than disrupt, the lives of adult learners. A brief literature review discovered that Ireland is among the least likely counties in the European Union to successfully implement TEL policies in Adult Education, (European Commission, 2015). Although the impact of TEL on many aspects of education has been well documented, it has not been fully explored by Irish educational research in some areas, including elements of curriculum design, pedagogy, training, disciplinary commonalities and learner experience. It is clear that the potential of educational technologies is not being harnessed fully. The research aims to address these matters by developing a unique framework which will allow Higher Education practitioners to design and deliver flexible lifelong learning programs using targeted, state of the art, educational technologies as pedagogically beneficially and effectively as possible. Proposed Methodology: This research uses a concurrent triangulation mixed methods design which includes three discrete empirical data collection phases. In this type of design qualitative and quantitative data are collected over a period of time, analysed and merged, (Bryman, 2008; Creswell, 2009; Punch, 2009). The data collection phases will examine faculty experiences and learner experiences of educational technologies and also assess learning analytics data; to consider these experiences through the lens of actual usage. A grounded theory data analysis approach will be used to triangulate the empirical data, relevant policy and findings from current research to develop a flexible learning framework. Conceptual Framework: This research is underpinned by a theoretical framework. Evans et al, (2011) explain that theoretical frameworks can be seen as ‘navigational devices’ to aid research, aiding in the design of research, alignment of phases of data collection, and finally in aiding data triangulation by considering convergence and returning the researcher to the original research questions. The theoretical framework for this study has been designed around a 19 point flexibility matrix outlined by Collis & Moonen (2001). Further research is used to update the matrix and increase the scope to ensure that the theoretical framework is applicable to this research project. The poster proposed presents the conceptual framework which underpins the research and argues that its use, in addition to strengthening the study overall, will aid the development of the framework

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Flexible Lifelong Learning Technology Irish Higher Education Theoretical Conceptual Framework
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Depositing User: Mrs Sarah Jane Cashman
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2016 15:50
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2016 15:50

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