About Productivity

Productivity – Achieving higher quality and more effective learning in affordable and acceptable ways

A beta version of the Productivity theme research briefing is now available to download – click here.

Introduction

The TLRP-TEL Programme Call outlined the importance of understanding how TEL can improve the productivity of teaching and learning:

For technology enhanced learning to become embedded in mainstream education, there needs to be rational economic and social models for its use – and these need to be culturally and politically acceptable. Greater public understanding of the different kinds of value that technology enhanced learning offers is likely to be a precondition for widespread and sustainable adoption. Research under this heading will assess the extent to which both learners and teachers can achieve more with the time they invest, the sustainable economic use of technology enhanced learning, and the technology diffusion rates and socio-cultural processes of adoption in, and beyond, conventional education and training settings. The intention is to inform the development of practice and investment policy in this field. In particular, proposals are invited which contribute towards an evidence-informed cost-benefit analysis of the personalisation of learning through technology across the life-course. (TEL Programme Call, 2007).

The simple definition of improving productivity is an increase in the value of output per unit of resource input. In the context of education, the value of the output is usually thought of as the level of achievement of the learner (sometimes the value added by the institution), and the number of learners achieving at that level. The main unit of resource that concerns us is time: teacher time and learner time. Therefore:

Improved productivity is defined as Improved quantity or quality of learner achievement per unit of teacher time, and/or learner time.

This leaves open the possibility that improved productivity might be achieved through an increase in total teaching time, as long as it results in an even greater increase in learner achievement for their time.

In looking to TEL for improvements in productivity we therefore need to look for ways of:

  • Improving the quality of teaching in order to improve the quality of learner achievement against the learner’s time
  • Increasing the number of learners achieving quality outcomes against teacher time
  • Reducing the amount of teacher or learner time needed for learner achievement.

Relation to other challenges

The other challenges for the TEL programme are to improve personalisation, inclusion, and flexibility, and all of them contribute to improving productivity:

Personalisation is a way of improving the use of learner time – they are able to work at their own pace, receive targeted feedback, be supported in their learning without relying on teacher presence, pursue their special interests, use design technologies to improve their communication and production skills.
Inclusion is a way of increasing the number of learners attaining a particular level – attracting disaffected learners through more engaging forms of learning, providing additional help for learners with special needs, motivating learners who cannot attend school.
Flexibility is a way of improving the use of both learner and teacher time – face-to-face teaching can be replaced by asynchronous online teacher support, lectures can be replaced by digitised audio, video, text and illustrations for learners to use as they wish, group work can take place online.

The TLRP-TEL projects are exploring these and a variety of other ways of making the most of learning technologies, and these are being captured through this website.

Projects contributing to improved productivity for teachers or learners

The current TLRP-TEL projects were asked to reflect on how they are contributing to:

  • Improving the quality of learner achievement against the learner’s time
  • Increasing the number of learners achieving quality outcomes against teacher time
  • Reducing the amount of teacher or learner time needed for learner achievement
  • Improvement of the quality of the learning experience

Read more: Projects contributing to improved productivity for teachers or learners.

Diana Laurillard, London Knowledge Lab

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