Relationship Between Knowledge, Learning and Technology in Higher Educational Environment

5978 words (24 pages) Essay in Education

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Technologies such as the laptops, mobile cell phones, computers, emails, web browsers, whiteboards, power-points, wikis, blogs, and the internet have re-modeled how people get information, conduct research, write and communicate with each one another. It has shortened the distance and has enabled teachers of higher education to teach students both home and across international frontiers.

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Technology-enhanced, learning, and teaching have increased and has served and continue to serve as an important tool among educators for more than two decades now. The introduction of Web 2.0 and several social media, as inventive easy to use, and improved means for using online technologies to activate learning. Holistic application of various digital media can enhance both teaching and learning experience, foster learners’ expertise, promote learners’ self-sufficiency, collaborate, and involve students in reflective and real life-related activities. Besides, it also tasks learners to discover inventive technologies and improve their digital media literacy. However, the use of innovative media in a classroom can only improve face to face teaching and learning when integrated with relevant curricular changes. The period of open education provides diverse avenues to advance educators’ digital skills and boost institutional technological competences.

This literature review presents a synthesis of the relationship between curriculum, knowledge, learning, and technology in higher education.


Curriculum, Knowledge, Learning, and technology

1. Introduction

“The general use of diverse and modern technologies and its effect on the enhancement of educational achievements has been pleasing the consideration of educators, and other educational professionals since 1990’s ” (Daniel 1996; Bates 2000; Nickerson and Zodhiates 2013; Salomon 2016).

Modern advances in the method of teaching and learning have enriched classroom teaching and learning globally with the use of various traditional and new digital technologies such as flipped classroom, blended learnings and massive online courses just to mention few. Theses educational resources have been transforming the traditional classroom teaching and learning making learning more effective for students.

” Online learning as well as various educational technologies. E.g., integrated learning system and computer augmented instructions as well as intelligent teaching systems provides new ways of learning” (Cheung & Slavin 2011)

The availability of technology as a tool for learning and providing instructions for students has caused a shift in pedagogy whereby teachers gives instructions to transform education. According to Online Learning Consortium (2015), ” educational technologies are enhancing normative classroom learning as well as online education beginning from second cycle education to higher education and has over 5 million students’ registered for an online course” (2015:1) This means that pedagogy has shifted from the traditional face to face classroom learning to include the use of the computer, mobile phones, tablets and the internet to speed up learning processes in higher education.

1.2 Aims

To provide available literature on curriculum, learning, knowledge, and the use of technology in higher education and draws a link between them

1.3 Objectives

This paper will evaluate the relationship between learning, knowledge, and technology in learning at higher education .Will explore any gap in the available literature about learning, knowledge and the use of technology in teaching/learning in higher education in Ghana three public universities: The University of Ghana, the University of Cape Coast and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology The literature review will explicitly define what is learning, knowledge, and technology and link it with how learning and the acquisition of knowledge is gained with technology in higher education.

1.4 Objectives of ICT in Education

 1) Increase acquisition of knowledge and skills

2) To augment the idea of lasting education

3) To enhance technology literacy

4) Improvement in learning

 1.5 Research Question

 ” What is the relationship between learning, knowledge and the use of technology in learning in a higher education environment in Ghana”?

This study will address these specific questions.

How do teachers use technology in teaching/learnings at higher education?

How do teachers at higher education work to integrate technology into their curricula?

What are the factors that build a link between learning, knowledge, and technology in higher education?

   1.6 Methodology

A review of the literature was undertaken in March, April, and June 2019. A systematic search of primary research literature was performed using a selection of electronic search tools over four broad categories: curriculum, technology, learning, and knowledge. Online databases including (a) OneSearch, EBSCO Host, ERIC (Education Resource’s Information Center), (b) Science Direct, (c) Academic Search Complete and (d) Ghana’s Office of Education Research Database. (e) British Library, electronic database, (f) University of Portsmouth, electronic library and Open Source electronic library. Searches were not limited to articles published in journals but include books.

The following keywords integrating ‘learning’ as a part of the search were used: blended learning, flipped classroom, computer literacy, curriculum, information communication technology (ICT) information technology (IT) Pedagogy, higher education, active learning. The search criteria adopted included studies in which the abstracts included one or more of the following terms: digital literacy, new literacies, technology in literacy education, and digital tools, ideas about learning, curriculum, knowledge, and learning. These terms were chosen because they represent and identify studies, which were for digital literacy (technology) learning, curriculum, knowledge, and higher education. Will use qualitative research and semi-structured interviews and participant observation. The method will be in grounded theory and statistical method with SPSS will be used in data analysis.

 ”Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has impacted greatly on teaching, learning, research, and school management in many ways, these resources that ICT have employed to enhanced teaching and learning are through eBooks such as Open Oregon Educational Resources, Open-Source soft-ware that enables students and teachers get access to free educational textbooks online,” ( Khan  2012.p.2)

According to Loing (2005:2) ” ICTs are different technological tools and resources which is used to talk and produce, distribute, store and manage information “. This wide view of ICT includes television, video, DVD, internet access, telephones, satellite system, computer, and network hardware. These tools and equipment are used in video conferencing and electronic mails in delivering instructions to students at higher education.

ICTs “are powerful tools for distribution of knowledge and information; an aspect of the education process “(Khan 2012.3)

 Toro & Joshi argues that “ICT plays a pedagogic role because it complements and enhance the traditional practices of the education sector (2012.2) and that, the availability and use of ICT in educational pedagogy have changed relationships in the classroom and the means of approaching teaching and learning (Sime and Priestley, (2005) ;(Wegerif and Dawes( 2004) claimed that” ICT has now become the vehicle through which educational practitioners build an environment that enables collaborative discourse and learning”. Tolme (2001) insists that ” It is “Therefore” crucial that the use of technology carefully plans, to match established education activities for experts to have control over learning results and to gain a thoroughgoing advantage from it. This debate has fashioned an argument in the academic literature on how ICT should be used in Higher Education”.

2.2 Constructivist Paradigm of Pedagogy

 Crotty, (1998: 58) defined “constructivism as a meaning-making action of someone’s mind”. This means that everyone developing their understanding and knowledge of their atmosphere from experiencing it and thinking about or reflecting on those experiences.

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“ Constructivism is therefore, a method that is focused on problem-solving and understanding how concepts and knowledge can be used through the resolution of dependable tasks and using practical experiences whose content is presented in a holistic manner not being broken down into smaller parts” (Christie, (2005;) Kharade & Thakkar, (2012). Those who used this philosophy believe that knowledge is not only created by people but also built up with social collaboration where expressive answers to problems can be supported in a sincere situation. These demands building an atmosphere which enables collaborations and interacting with and constructing of knowledge rather than one in which knowledge is only transferred to learners (Kharade and Thakkar, 2012). Constructivism will enable students to learn how to learn ‘and enable them to find solutions to specific problems that manifest themselves within the educational ecosystem. In these circumstances, ICT can be employed as a research tool to gather information, as a means of communicating with others and as a medium through which work can be produced (Facer et al.,2003). Constructivism pedagogy is a system whereby learners can be encouraged to engage in collaborating literacy (Wegerif and Dawes, 2004), extend their knowledge whilst developing their skills in critical thinking and analysis. Experts who follow Constructivist principles use ICT as a means of enhancing teaching and learning effectively (Sutherland et al., 2004), employing much information that is accessible via the Internet. This can aid high education learners in the creation of knowledge for individuals and groups in that, it can be cost-saving and used in a way that meets their needs (Loveless, 2003). It is through accessing of information via modern technology that learners can understand the concepts and the world around them, develop the ability to handle data to meet their needs, make links between different pieces of information and extend the base of their knowledge (Loveless & Ellis, 2001). Molenda and Robinson (2008) explain that “educational technology’s distinguishing moral concerns based on the developments of creating instructional materials and learning environments for learners during the use of those materials and environments” (p.245).

Robinson et al., (2008) emphasize that “we must acknowledge the diversity of the individual” (p.42). General computing and social software offer new learning opportunities and are driving changes in the organization of the education system (Attwell, 2007), which are not only technological but also social, with the learner at the center (Ebner, Holzinger & Maurer 2007). For educational institutions, they need to sustain the helping of learning and by using a systems theory approach, educational technology helps organizations advance performance by distinguishing and giving significant features (Molenda& Pershing, 20087). In constructivist learning, students developed their knowledge and serve as a resolute nature to designing learning activities. A bond is made between what students now know and what they are anticipated to learn (Gagnon &Callay 2006:4). Additionally, educational technology allows learners, and teachers, complete user-centered design (Molenda& Robinson, 2008). Teachers who teach in the classroom, thus become facilitators who help students in making their understandings and using their capabilities in performing works on computer technologies. The transformation from lecture and reading, which is widespread in secondary classrooms, to tutoring certainly foster a constructivist style of learning; computer enables the teacher to perform the role of a coach (Collins 1991). Salomon (1998) cautions against the threat that technology may transform the way of learning ecosystems and the philosophies of constructivism.

 2.3 History of Technology use in Schools

Technology in schools is in its infancy form, came through the availability of electronic media as a resource in the classroom. Televisions and movie projectors were the first, and new technology tools to be used in the classroom to enhance education. In the mid-1970s, the discovery of the personal computer permitted the use of this new technology in schools. The dawn of the TV in the 1930s and its acceptance by the public in the 1940s provides an expectation of how vital TV would be to education. The 1970s witnessed the starting of the microcomputer. Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs, personal computing became commonplace to most people, including schools. While it took almost ten years to see Microcomputing become a reality in schools, the predictions were that machine like the personal computer would fundamentally modify how we teach and learn. (Bigenho, 2015, p. 20)

In 2007, the Ghana government launched an educational reform that was to ensure the integration of ICT in pre-tertiary education to enable students to acquire fundamental ICT skills including the use of the internet and their use in daily life activities (RDD, 2007a.b and c)

Karsenti (2003) observed in a study funded by IDRC that, limited research was done on the integration of ICT into African education and that this study was done in South Africa by scholars. The result of the studies shows that there was a tremendous lack of research on the use of ICT in education in Africa which has a possible impact on the quality of African education.

The use of computer labs in education stems from the use of a single computer in a classroom, from one classroom to a lot of classrooms and provided easy access for the student. whilst this growth continues, whether one believes that computers remain an integral part of education for pedagogical reasons is yet to be seen. (Coley, Cradler, & Engel, 1997, p. 11) As access and availability of technology have grown, so has the hardware. Desktop computers were replaced by laptop computers, which are presently being changed by handheld gadgets. Laptop computers and handheld devices allow for easy mobility from one classroom to another. “The availability of mobile, handheld devices has expanded in the past five years with the invention of touch screens and decreasing prices” (Williams, 2014, p. 2). According to Williams (2014), an increasing number of schools have incorporated BYOD, or bring your device, as a technique to ensure everyone’s accesses to technology. Handheld devices, such as cell phones and tablets, provide the same level of technology as desktop and laptop computers. The use of laptops and handheld devices has made technology accessible inside or outside of the school setting.

2.4 Definition of learning

 Definition of ‘learning’ adopted from psychological research. Following this definition, something is learning only if it is a ‘process by which relatively lasting changes occur in behavior through experience’ (Anderson 1995, p. 4-5). Notwithstanding the above definition the other definition is the one we find in typical psychology textbooks, e.g., (Gray 2011; Gross 2010; Klein 2012; Poling et al. 1990). “The present century learning is the master plan of how to generate innovative, relevant practices in education,” says (Lucy Miller-Ganfield 2010) “Twenty-first century learning is a remix of multiple literacies which fuse with the tools of technology and the skills of critical thinking to stimulate authentic, relevant learning opportunities for all learners, anywhere, anytime. The tools allow individuals to be collaborators and creators of authentic solutions to global problems as they emerge over time,” she says. Echoed in the work of (Lachman 1997), various textbook definitions of learning refer to learning as a transformation in behavior that is due to experience. This is further discussed in (Domjan, 2010); (Lachman, 1997); (Ormrod, 1999, 2008) that behavior alone is not sufficient to define what learning is about or how it occurs.

 2.5 Definition of knowledge

Dombrowski et al. (2013) paper on integrated nature of knowledge espoused that “there are three kinds of knowledge: a) experiential knowledge; b) skills; and c) knowledge claims”. The three are unified but have some specific features of their own. Experiential knowledge is gained from the direct interaction with the environment, either through our sensory system and processed by the brain. E.g., if we want to know what coal is, then we have to go where coal is located and touch it, smell, it, feel it and play with it. We cannot get that knowledge only from books or seeing some movies about coals. 

Experiential knowledge is personal since it can be acquired only through a direct interface of our sensory system and then processed by our brain. It is essentially of perception and reflection. Several people having together the same experience may acquire different experiential knowledge since reflecting on a living experience means integrating it in some previous similar experiences and knowledge structures, if they do exist. “Things are not always as they seem to be and our viewpoints impact our interpretations. Still, watching out for errors in thinking can advance enormously the quality of our reflections on our experiences” (Dombrowski et al.,2013; p. 38). Experiential knowledge can be seen as fashioned by the collaboration between emotional, rational and spiritual knowledge which is believed results from the body and mind, active participation (Bratianu 2015).

A clear definition of the word “knowledge” is difficult hitherto vital to any search for shared understanding. Hinchley (1998) notes, “Like other cultural assumptions, the definition of ‘knowledge’ is rarely explicitly discussed because it has been so long a part of the culture that it seems a self-evident truth to many, simply another part of the way things are” (36). Nevertheless, the concept of knowledge is fluid and subject to cultural and historical forces; as Horton and Freire (1990) argue, “If the act of knowing has historicity, then today’s knowledge about something is not necessarily the same tomorrow. Knowledge is changed to the extent that reality also moves and changes. The blend of these origins pre-supposes a relationship of knowledge, power, and agency that is grounded in both the social and the political spheres. Knowledge represents “positions from which people make sense of their worlds and their place in them, and from which they construct their concepts of agency, the possible, and their capacities to do” (Stewart 2002, 20).

2.6 Changing Knowledge

New communication technologies and the speeds at which they allow the dissemination of information and the conversion of information to knowledge have forced us to re-examine what constitutes knowledge; moreover, it has encouraged us to take a critical look at where it can be found and how it can be validated. The explosion of freely available sources of information has helped drive rapid expansion in the accessibility of the canon and the range of knowledge available to learners. Online access to thousands of primary documents may be provided via the Internet for less than it costs to provide far fewer examples in a traditional textbook package (Rosenzweig 2003). In addition to this increased accessibility of primary documents, a new breed of user-generated content has emerged on collaborative Web sites and in other online platforms. 

2.7 Definition of Technology

Technological devices and networks have changed the way we learn in schools and classrooms.

We now have computers and interactive whiteboards in schools and universities, and this has made schools/Universities connected and the world at higher speeds than ever before. Using technology in schools has become mobile, with laptop computers, tablet devices, and smartphones now part of the teaching and learning process. When we talk about technology in teaching and learning, the word ‘integration’ is often used. The idea of integrating technology into the curriculum came about through a concern that we may have been teaching about and teaching how to use technology but not addressing how students can apply technology-related knowledge and skills. To address this problem, there was a move to integrate technology into each key learning area.

2.8 Definition of Curriculum

According to Pratt (1994, p.5) and Barrow and Milburn (1990, p.84), the word “curriculum” came from the Latin verb currere, “to run.” “Currere” became a miniscule noun and meant a “racing chariot” or “race track.” Cicero expanded it by associating the term with curriculum vitae that means “the course of one’s life.” He also linked it with curricula mentis that figuratively refers to “the (educational) course of the mind.” It was not until the nineteenth century that the term was commonly used in the educational discourse. Most researchers or educators (e.g. Barrow & Milburn, 1990; Beauchamp, 1977; Goodson, 1994; Longstreet & Shane, 1993; Marsh, 1997; Wood & Davis, 1978) have shed light on what curriculum is about. Marsh (1997) states, “the actual curricula which are applied in classrooms comprise of a combination of plans and experiences…” (p.5). In other words, teaching is wholly natural or planned, nonetheless moderately an interaction between instinct and intention; learning experiences encompass past the classroom to activities outside the classroom (Marsh, 1997). While “curriculum” is a collaborative procedure advanced among learners, teachers, materials, and the environment (Chen, 2007), it works as a mirror that echoes cultural beliefs, social and political values, and the organization.


Different systematic points can be utilized when attempting to review and or synthesize research studies in this field, albeit, depending upon the purpose they are intended to serve. Some research has been done on assessing the use of technology in the higher education sector (e.g., Walker, Voice, and Ahmed 2012). Furthermore, some reviews are undertaken to synthesize finding a type of technology usage (see. E.g., (Kay and LeSage 2009); (Naismith et al. 2004); (Sim and Hew 2010). Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK/TPACK) is about how to teach specific content-based material, using technologies that best exemplify and support it, in ways that are suitably harmonized to students’ needs and preferences.

In current knowledge-based society, lifelong learning is a vital measure for dealing with economic, occupational and social challenges.  People need to have numerous skills to succeed in lifelong learning. According to (European Parliament, & Council of the European Union, 2006b; Sharma, 2004), These talents consist of learners taking more responsibility and creativity to plan their learning processes. e.g. from the awareness of learning needs to the assessment of learning results personally or in a group, this is referred to as a method of self-directed learning.

There is general acceptance of Self-directed learning (SDL) (see Loyens, Magda, & Rikers, 2008) both are necessities for and the result of lifelong learning. However, (Merriam & Bierema 2014) Similar points were explored by (Andersson and Gronlund (2009); (Unwin et al. 2010) ;( Bolu and Egbo 2014). Moya et al., (2011) who notes that the use of digital technologies improves the quality of teaching and learning, efficacy and accessibility. However, the adoption of digital technologies in resource-constrained higher institutions of learning remains a challenge (Stantchev et al. 2014).

 In education, digital technologies provide avenues for new pedagogical approaches, whereby students play a more pragmatic role than before (Beebe 2004), thus concentrating on the decisive aspects of how people communicate and learn in an electronic ecosystem.

 And then again in the context of digital technologies in higher institutions of learning, Rumanyika and Galan (2015) asserts that they are used for creating course material; delivering and sharing content; communication between learners, lecturers and the outside world; creation and delivery of presentation and lectures; academic research; administrative support, student enrolment, Teaching and learning approaches (e-learning, blended learning, and mobile learning). Similar points were explored by (Moya et al. 2011). On the use of digital technologies and that it advances the teaching and learning process and can potentially lead to better students learning outcomes.

 According to Kaware and Sain (2015), teaching learners in a world of instantaneous information is a test for educators. Reflecting on the work of (Kaware & Sain, 2015), (Kelly; 2013) ;( Hung, Lee, & Lim; (2012) ;( Liu & Tee, 2014). On the use of the Internet, smartphones, computers, tablets, gaming systems, and multimedia devices may be problematic for the educational community. To correctly teach children to evaluate, interpret, and effectively use technology, educators have to support technology, utilize technology in their classrooms, and teach proper use of technology to accomplish tasks.

 3.0 Discussions and Conclusion

According to a study carried out by (ERNWACA, 2009) indicates that there are several uses of ICT’s in schools/colleges/universities in Africa even though its uses vary from the introduction of learners to the rudimentary of computing, and also the creation of websites, multimedia, and online research. The literature also reveals that constructivist concepts are of importance to teachers in their efforts to help students grasp the substantive and syntactic components of the subjects they are teaching. Educational technologists need to ensure that these meaningful and relevant practices are accessible and used to promote learning about and identity, which is so central for contributing, reshaping, and enriching the educational experience. One of the distinctive advantages that a constructivist learning environment utilizes is experience, collaborative discourse, and reflection which, together with support the learner to confront his/her own learning needs (Brooks & Brooks, 1999).

 Synthesizing from the available literature review on curriculum, knowledge, learning and the use of technology in teaching at higher education, (Oldaker;2010) shows that student sometimes faced technical difficulties, limited time for technological instructions which hinder smooth integration of technologies into higher education classroom.

Synthesizing the literature about learning, knowledge, and technology has shown a clear relationship between them.


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