New tech: Do different and better


New technology and media create challenges for educators, in that, in the early adoption period, we do not initially understand the affordances of them nor how to best use them in our teaching.

Bates identifies that the challenges of designing and teaching for a new technology, as is the case emerging technologies like mobile learning or mlearning, is the use of “old formats and approaches” because “it is sometimes difficult to see these unique characteristics clearly at this point in time.” (Bates, 2015). New technologies are developed at a rapid pace, surpassing the development of media formats and teaching frameworks. Media are dependent on technologies and there is a process of understanding and time required to identify what unique affordances (Bates, 2015) an emerging media will offer and what new pedagogy will be required. In not being able to see these initially, we use the formats and approaches we currently use with older technologies; so we literally adapt new media but use approaches from the past.

But, as Bates argues, what we as educators have to do is to to “do different and often better teaching by adapting it to the medium” (Bates, 2015) and in doing so “students will learn more deeply and effectively” (Bates, 2015). In order to do so “we need to understand better the affordances of each medium… and use them differently but in an integrated way so as to develop deeper knowledge, and a wider range of learning outcomes and skills.”

In support of Bates’s view, the authors of Students’ Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study state in the conclusion:

“Our multi-year findings are consistent with prior research, indicating that ownership of mobile devices is high and continues to increase among students. However, mobile learning’s potential has yet to be fully realized. Our results suggest that students and instructors need technical, logistical, and pedagogical support for integrating mobile devices and apps. Our future plan is to continuously update our faculty support resources and implement them on a larger scale.” (Seilhamer, Bennett & Bauer, 2015)

In conclusion, educators require support and resources to help in fully understanding the unique affordances of a new medium in order to leverage them to provide better teaching to provide learners with a deeper understanding and new skills.


Bates, A.W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Vancouver, BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-9952692-0-0. Retrieved from:

Seilhamer, R., Bennett, L., Bauer, S. (2015). Students’ Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study. Retrieved from:


About jhounslow

Soccer enthusiast, cyclist, web developer, e-learning professional, educator, husband to a graduate student, and father of four daughters.
This entry was posted in Bates, EDTC0560, Media, mlearning and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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