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Damaged and refractive teaching and learning practices in international developing university contexts
Uzair Shah, Vivien Hodgson, Department of Management Learning & Leadership, Lancaster University, UK
While research is available that explores teachers' use of learning technology within western contexts, there is less research that provides insights into teachers' use of learning technology within non-western contexts. Currently we know little about higher education within developing contexts in terms of the prevailing pedagogical understandings and practices, the use of learning technology, and the contexts within which these practices are embedded. Similarly although there is evidence available on potential barriers faced by teachers in using learning technology within western contexts, we know little about the nature, scope, scale and influence of potential barriers teacher may face when teaching in less developed contexts. We do however know that there is within the field of networked learning an increased recognition that contextual aspects both influence and effect pedagogical practices.
This paper consequently aims to shed light on teachers' experience of using learning technology in less developed countries and, more specifically, elaborates on the influences contextual realities have on the use of learning technology and pedagogical practices. It builds on previously reported work that examined the variation in pedagogical understandings of using learning technology in a public university in South Asia. In that study five different ways of teachers' understandings of using learning technology were identified. Further analysis and review of the data identified an additional aspect influencing the ways teachers understood and experienced the use of learning technology which is ‘response to contextual limitations'. This aspect is associated and related to the socio-economic and technical context within which the teachers operated. In the paper we examine the teachers' different responses to contextual limitations within their pedagogical practices in more detail. The teachers' descriptions of experiences suggested their response to the contextual limitations varied from passive to active. Further some participants described their teaching experiences as ‘damaged' as the contextual limitations prevented them from using learning technology and teaching students according to what we describe as their embodied pedagogical understandings. In the paper we argue that due to these contextual limitations, the teachers' actual practices are refractive practices, as their actual practices seem to bend away from their pedagogic understanding and intentions. The paper elaborates on the two notions of damaged teaching experiences and refractive practices and concludes with potential implications for networked learning in universities located in less developed countries.
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