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How do we face the challenges of tomorrow?


In this chapter we’ll look at any challenges or barriers we may encounter when implementing our innovative practices. We’ll also look at what’s coming down the track and what we can continue to do to keep our learning experiences cutting edge, while also understanding how changes in technology and pedagogy may impact our work.

Why is this important?

In this book we’ve covered a lot of ground on emerging pedagogies, technologies and our ability to back up our decisions when implementing these choices. It’s important though to consider how our use of these practices may be met in our workplaces or learning contexts, and any potential barriers that may arise in our use of them. Being able to anticipate any challenges or barriers will help us plan for them, and thus be able to implement any changes we want in a more effective manner, because we’ll have a plan.

Guiding Questions

As you’re reading through these materials, please consider the following questions, and take notes to ensure you understand their answers as you go.

  • How does change happen in your workplace or learning context? Is it smooth or bumpy? Why?
  • What agency do you think you have to affect change with regards to new pedagogies and technologies?
  • Who would we need to work with when trying out new things in teaching and learning spaces?

Key Readings

Englund, C., Olofsson, A. D., & Price, L. (2017). Teaching with technology in higher education: understanding conceptual change and development in practice. Higher Education Research & Development36(1), 73-87.

Phillips, R. (2007). Pedagogical, institutional and human factors influencing the widespread adoption of educational technology in higher education. (Just skim through this one to get a feel for what the author is trying to accomplish).

A lot of moving parts

Though we won’t cover this in great detail in this chapter, we need to be aware that implementing technology and pedagogical changes involve change management, is a whole separate field of research and practice that deals with how we can manage changes that happen within an organisation, either planned or unplanned. For the use of technology in education and innovative pedagogical practices, we may never have to deal with it on a larger scale, and simply implement in our own classroom. Nevertheless it is useful to think about the changes we may bring on a larger scale as a way to inform ourselves of potential issues that may arise at this level.

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The Phillips article covers lots of ground and discusses a number of important issues that come up at this higher level of implementation.

First there’s the model of ‘Top Down and Bottom Up’ change management. Top Down usually refers to the supports given from leadership to those ‘in the trenches’ doing the work. This can come in the form of funding, administrative support and even just communication to ensure everyone knows what is going on. Sometimes, we run into the challenge of leadership being disconnected from the every day worker and thus not being able to accurately or appropriately speak to or support this change in any meaningful way, however, most effective leaders will already know of this phenomena and support as best they can. From a bottom up approach, the people doing the work – the ones ‘in the weeds’ so to speak – are the ones driving the change, by learning from each other, encouraging and supporting each other.

Recent research in this area has shown that neither approach works to effectively manage change independently, but a combination of the two is what really matters.

Phillips also raises McNaught’s model as well, which recommends the following considerations when implementing technology on a larger scale. These include:

  • Policy
  • Institutional Culture
  • Infrastructure and Support
  • Intellectual Property
  • Collaboration
  • Databases

Challenges in implementation

On the ground, there are always going to be roadblocks to a smooth implementation of technology or innovative pedagogy and that can come from a number of sources.

Technology Availability

Probably the most immediate challenge to doing anything is the simple availability of the technology we wish to use to innovate. While this may be frustrating, there’s a lot you can do with the tools you already have, which brings us back tot he mantra of ‘pedagogy before technology’. If you’re in an organisation or learning context where the tools you have to use are limited or ‘set in stone’, have a look for other opportunities to accomplish your pedagogical goals or teaching intensions in other ways. Given that many learning technologies have similar or overlapping affordances and feature sets, you may not always be able to do 100% of what you want, but you can get close with existing technology choices.


This can come from a number of sources including leadership, peers and even students.

Leadership – There might just not be support for what you want to do. There may be processes in place, cultural norms or the ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ mentality that may get in your way.

Peers – Many times colleagues a source of inspiration and will be willing to try new things. In some circumunstances though it could be a colleague who oversees something related to what you do and may not be willing to change their practice.

Students – Depending on the culture of your institution or of the geographical region where you work, students may be used to a certain way of learning, including the ways in which materials are presented, the ways in which they are assessed and the ways in which they work together, and may express resistance to a change in these norms (e.g., Dutch University students may learn very differently than Australian students).

In addressing these different parties and how we can still innovate, there may be different approaches depending on your own knowledge of your workplace or learning environment. In most cases it will be a matter of motivation – the answer to that question “why should we change?”. For students there are a few studies that speak to their ability to ‘unlearn’ how they have been taught to learn previously, and this takes a type of meta-instruction – teaching students how to learn in different ways and how to study in different ways that may benefit them. For our colleagues and leaders, again it’s about motivation – they need to understand why this change is worth exploring or is necessary, which goes back to what is discussed in the previous chapter in terms of providing evidence for potential improvement.

Key Literacies

When making supporting students in the adoption of new pedagogical practices or learning technologies, it’s very important not to make assumptions about what the students know and don’t know, and gather feedback about their experiences as they go. As Beckman et al. (2019) discovered, a student’s understanding of a task or what they’re expected do is linked to their ability to set goals, regulate their study and learning behaviour and ultimately successfully complete a task, so this makes student understanding incredibly important.

This extends to common and sometimes controversial issues surrounding academic integrity. Sites such as Course Hero and Chegg, provide tutoring services, but have been, in the past accused of facilitating plagiarism as some users uploaded past assignments for the same class, which could then be downloaded by others, all outside of the control of their teachers and institutions. There are also some sites which are described as so-called ‘Essay Mills’ in which users can pay others to complete written assignments for them.

The question is then, why do students use sites like this? Well there’s probably many reasons, but from an educational design perspective, we could just say they’re bad assignments – if all students are expected to create the same artefact (e.g,. respond to the same prompt with little agency for personalisation) this means that every essay should look the same, which opens the door for many of these essays to be floating around online.

Most of the time, though it has to do with motivation and the value they place on their time – if they don’t see the value in what they’re learning, then it makes sense to take a shortcut – after all the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, whereas learning can be a long a winding road.

Another key literacy to think about is Information Literacy. Providing resources to our students like the ones below, in a format that is easy to digest will do wonders compared to giving them pages and pages of text to read about a subject. So again, supporting our students in the understanding of WHY we are trying new things and using different technologies will go a long way in their willingness to come along for the ride, and this starts with an instructor being clear and transparent regarding what these new pedagogies and technologies will entail, being sure not to assume the students already know this.

‘Big Tech’ in EdTech

As budgets for education constantly change (usually going down), one trend that has emerged in recent years is the emergence of ‘big tech’ in education and the tools that we use to support our teaching and learning efforts. For years, companies like Microsoft and Google have been a part of our teaching and learning processes, however in recent years their integration with our administrative and pedagogical work has increased even further. Other companies such as Apple and Amazon have also joined the club and Amazon in particular is starting to partner with many educational organisations simply because their AWS (Amazon Web Services) now forms a large and foundational role in the actual infrastructure of the internet – their data centres store a large chunk (30-40% via The Verge / Forbes) of all the information on the internet. In addition, their cloud services that include AI and ML technology along with scalable web application infrastructure mean they are in the perfect position to partner with educational institutions to reliably move things forward.

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This is the reality of our educational technology landscape now – the present of ‘big tech’ in our organisations and in our classrooms, and whether we like it or not, it seems to be a snowball that is on the move. While these big tech firms represent the most well known names in technology these days, other tech companies specifically focusing on educational technology have been partnering with schools and universities for years, and their solutions are much more targeted, focusing on things like plagiarism detection (TurnItIn), Library catalog and searching (Summon Library Discovery), Grammar support (Grammarly) and remote proctoring of exams (Proctorio, ProctorU, etc.), Video Conference / chat (Adobe, Zoom, Blackboard, etc.) and even most LMS platforms are private companies – even Moodle and Canvas, which are open-source platforms usually charge organisations for hosting and support packages.

While these technologies were in use before the COVID-19 pandemic many educational technology leaders scrambled in the early days of the pandemic to meet the new needs of teaching and learning to adapt to an ’emergency remote teaching’ model of teaching (have a look at Modalities in Introduction to Learning Technology for more). This has led to great successes both in terms of a fast ‘pivot’ to online learning for many instructors, with some outlying experiences not being so good. The growth in these technologies has also shone a light on what can happen if universities partner with companies that may not act in good faith( see the case of Proctorio suing critics including educators and students over their privacy practices) or have algorithms that perpetuate inequality and racial bias (read more in this article on MIT Technology Review)

In the for-profit educational sector, we have seen the rise of a number of ‘online course’ sites such as Skillshare, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning and even YouTube – just to name the big ones – that allow people to simply learn from a series of videos (for a small fee).

Beyond these larger companies that integrate and embed with our existing platforms, we also have small ad-hoc technologies that we use to augment our teaching here and there (covered in previous chapters), but these are usually still small for-profit companies.

Within this landscape, how we teach and learn is now (not in the future, but now) strongly linked with how internet commerce works – the embedding of technology, and the monetisation of individual use through shared analytics, web traffic monitoring and aggregation and capitalisation of our habits as commodities. While this may sound scary, it has been how the internet has worked for years – it’s just now clearly embedded in educational settings more than it was before (for a good overview of how this process works, The Social Dilemma is a good documentary on the subject).

This is not all doom and gloom though. As these practices become more understood in the public sphere, the more agency we as users are given to control what is data is collected about us, and the more we can opt-out and even download the data that these companies have about us. This trend will no doubt find its way into education, as trends such as Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining start to allow learners more agency in what teachers and organisations can do with what they collect.

There are still pockets of innovation happening within our educational institutions, just not the scale that it used to be – teachers, edtech leaders, IT support workers and others are creating and sharing fantastic tools that are incredibly valuable to a lot of people, so it is comforting to know that combined with the private sector’s collaboration with their educational clients and the grassroots development of small tools, innovation in educational technology is still pressing forward on multiple fronts.

The Future of Learning Machines

As covered in a previous chapter, learning technologies that are emerging today will only improve, but there’s actually no way to predict what technologies we can use for learning. Who could have predicted the rise of TikTok, Instagram and other tools 15 years ago? Whatever you, the reader, could imagine about technology and its advancement in the years to come may be informed by science fiction at this point. Chips containing wikipedia embedded in our brains? The Internet of Things expanding to physical learning objects? Using voice recognition and facial recognition to take attendance? Real-time mood and attention detection to alert instructors about student understanding and boredom? Personal Assistants moving into the education sphere to support learners by quizzing them? Any of these scenarios is possible, so having an understanding of current trends and where they may go, is always an exciting discussion point.

What about Web 3.0?

In previous chapters we discussed how Web 2.0 and its participatory and collaborative nature changed the internet and how we engage online. Discussions now are around Web 3 and how this will change the internet, and by extension education.

In a nutshell, Web 3.0 is all about decentralisation of the internet. While now we rely heavily on ‘Big Tech’ for storage of information, communication and commerce, Web 3.0 is built around technologies that actively decentralise everything we do, and it does this securely. In the late 90s and early 2000s, peer to peer technologies like Napster, BitTorrent and other tools allowed users to share resources and communicate with each other without ever needing to store that information on a server (like Facebook, Amazon, or Google servers) – we simply shared from our computer directly. Web 3 is similar in concept to this, in that whatever is happening isn’t served to us through platforms where we store stuff, but is shared by individuals and secured by technology tokens or keys.

A lot of Web 3.0 discussion is currently centred around DeFi (decentralised finance) because the technologies that allow us to exchange information in Web 3.0 came about through the use of cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology of blockchain. Ok, so what is blockchain? Without going into detail, blockchain is a technology that allows for a decentralised and secure means of representing anything – a person, a product, a file etc. by associating a unique and secure identifier to that thing (key or token).

Confused? So is this author. All you need to know about Web 3.0 is that it exists and it may or may not affect how learning with technology will work 10+ years down the track. Given that Web 2.0 technologies have taken over 15 years to gain traction in education, it’s safe to say that we don’t need to be worried about implementing Web 3.0 any time soon. If you’d like to watch an in depth explanation on the topic, check out this video (completely optional).

The Future of Pedagogy

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic changed education and the way we work. It made us panic. Many of us lost our jobs, or had to switch careers. We were physically displaced, separated from friends and family and had to adapt as best we could. From this massive disruption in all sectors of education, the pandemic did ‘shine a light’ on many aspects of our work that did have gaps before the pandemic arrived – these issues just became more pronounced as a result of a micro-organism.

What it did teach us though is that we are adaptable, both as teachers and as learners, and with technologies to support these efforts technology and online learning can help students to complete activities and assignments in new and exciting ways. Conversations around technology and online pedagogies exploded in online communities in March 2020, opening a “floodgate” of content devoted to the topics both on youtube and in blogs and online articles. Particularly with online learning (or ‘learning’ as we should really be calling it now) the myth that these learning experiences were ‘less than’ or lower quality than face to face learning experiences has been re-evaluated, leading to a greater interest in more flexible options for delivery.

Dr. Bates also has another great talk on how to approach teaching and learning post-COVID in higher / tertiary education (about 30 mins)

One challenge that may arise out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that any educators who taught online since its outset may now consider themselves experts, both at teaching online and at designing technology-enabled or online learning experiences. While we cannot discount our colleagues self-perceptions, engaging in this sort of work takes knowledge, expertise and experience that may not be gained by delivering a few Zoom lectures. It’s important to respect our colleagues’ experience nevertheless, and understand that as these modalities change and technology use increases, there will always be a need for people who understand the impact that innovative pedagogies and technologies can have on learners and learning.

Key Take-Aways

  • Challenges to implementing new pedagogies and technologies can come from many sources, so it’s important to understand these sources and their motivations before you can move forward.
  • Educational Technology includes private company players now, and this is only increasing over time. Being aware of this and understanding the role that these companies play in teaching and learning can help us to use their tools more effectively, while ensuring our students’ privacy is protected.
  • The future of technology-enabled and online learning has been steered in a specific direction by COVID-19, so the use of technologies that support these modalities in leraning

Revisit Guiding Questions

Imagine you’re talking to a fellow Learning Technology enthusiast. The question comes up “how do we prepare for the future in learning technology?” How would you answer?

  • Additionally, do you have a better understanding of who you might need to work with to try out new practices and tools?
  • Do you feel more confident in your ability to do the above?

Conclusion / Next Steps

In this chapter, we’ve considered issues around change management and the potential changes in learning technology related to ‘big tech’ and the impact COVID-19 has had on how education is delivered. While technologies and tools will always evolve and change, the nature of that change and the ways people react to it may not. The transition from the printing press, to the dot-matrix printer to the smartphone gave us vastly different ways to consume text information, and while there may be stragglers and traditionalists who hold on to the old ways, there are many of us who are completely willing to pull others into the future. Good luck!


Bates, A. W. (2015). Chapter 8: Choosing and using media in education: The SECTIONS model. In Teaching in a Digital Age. [Open source e-book]. Retrieved from

Beckman, K., Apps, T., Bennett, S., Dalgarno, B., Kennedy, G., & Lockyer, L. (2019). Self-regulation in open-ended online assignment tasks: the importance of initial task interpretation and goal setting. Studies in Higher Education46(4), 1–15.

McNaught, C., Phillips, R., Rossiter, D., & Winn, J. (2000). Developing a framework for a useable and useful inventory of computer-facilitated learning and support materials in Australian universities.

Feathers, T. (2021). Proctorio Is Doubling Down On Lawsuits Against Its Critics. Retrieved from on Aug 11, 2021.

Further Reading

Barak, M. (2018). Are digital natives open to change? Examining flexible thinking and resistance to change. Computers & Education121, 115-123.

Dembo, M. H., & Seli, H. P. (2004). Students’ Resistance to Change in Learning Strategies Courses. Journal of developmental education27(3), 2.

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Last Modified on March 20th, 2023 at 9:39 am by Stoo Sepp | BookSS Theme, 2021.

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