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School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Steve Higgins

Higgins, S. (2016). New (and Old) Technologies for Learning: Innovation and Educational Growth. In Psicología y Educación: Presente y Futuro. Castejón Costa, J.L.(coord.). Alicante: Asociación Científica de Psicología y Educación (ACIPE). 45-52.

Author(s) from Durham


In this chapter I take a retrospective look at the use of technologies for learning, and learning in in schools in particular, through the technological developments of last century into the first two decades of the 21st Century. There are two main sections to my argument. The first is that we should learn from the lessons of the past, both from what has and, perhaps more importantly, what has not been successful before. The second is that the evidence from research clearly shows that it is the pedagogy surrounding the use of technology, and the skills of the teacher or learning technologist in designing, supporting and enabling learners to interact productively which makes the difference in terms of successful learning. How we use technology is usually more important than which digital technology we choose. One way to understand this is to think of teaching and learning settings as ecologies. These grow and change over time and digital devices have to adapt to survive in different settings. Some technologies become successfully embedded, such as interactive whiteboards in schools or virtual learning environments in Universities, so find their ‘niche’ and flourish and develop, although the reasons they are successful and their role in the ecology may not improve learning outcomes. It is only by understanding the systemic nature of learning environments that we can design effective digital technologies and innovative tools for teaching and learning. In a final section I briefly look at a recent attempt to design a learning space, SynergyNet, using multi-touch technologies, which supports both group collaboration and the teacher’s pedagogical ‘momentum’ by using the concept of digital and pedagogical ‘flow’.