4. The 3E Framework explained
Recognising the iterative nature of adopting technology, the 3E Framework is based on a tried and tested Enhance-Extend-Empower continuum for using technology to effectively support learning, teaching and assessment across disciplines and levels of study. The three broad stages within the continuum are:
Enhance: Adopting technology in simple and effective ways to actively support students and increase their activity and self-responsibility.
Extend: Further use of technology that facilitates key aspects of student’s individual and collaborative learning and assessment through increasing their choice and control.
Empower: Developed use of technology that requires higher order individual and collaborative learning that reflect how knowledge is created and used in professional environments.
Within the 3E Framework, a small blends approach is suggested as the starting point for making active use of technology in modules. At a minimum, this should involve identifying two or more straightforward interventions at the Enhance level that need only require a modest workload to implement, and which facilitates the active engagement of students throughout the trimester.
The 3E Framework comprises illustrative examples for a range of LTA activities that might be incorporated as a minimum (to Enhance), and which advances the use of technology to underpin more sophisticated learning, teaching and assessment activities (at Extend and Empower levels) where desired and appropriate.
In using the 3E Framework, staff are directed towards the illustrative and real examples (Sections 7 and 8), and the LTA Resource Bank which has searchable 3E categories. In considering how they might adopt or adapt similar approaches within the context of their own modules, staff should also consider the further support available to them (Section 6).
In considering the 3E Framework, and what it generally indicates about the kinds of changes to learning, teaching and assessment practice that can be effectively supported through technology, the following points should be kept in mind.
1. Although the 3E levels can be seen as a continuum of change in technology-enhanced learning and teaching practice, they should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. In any single module context, there may be a range of learning tasks and activities that align with any of the three levels within the Framework.
2. Similarly, although the 3E Framework is most likely to be applied within a modular context, it can equally be applied at programme level where common technology-enhanced approaches are used across modules, or to support a progression to more advanced learning across as programme stages.
3. In being part of a continuum the 3E levels are not clearly distinct categories, and it is to be expected that some technology-enhanced activities will blur the boundaries between one level and another. This point perhaps applies particularly at the Enhance and Extend levels, and maybe less so at Empower.
4. Where students are likely to be largely unfamiliar with the subject matter then activities at primarily the Enhance level are going to be most appropriate. Similarly for new undergraduates a balance towards predominantly Enhance level activities will be more appropriate.
5. Enhance activities can work well in any subject at any level of study. In encouraging the development of learner autonomy and other key graduate attributes required in the workplace then an increase in Extend and especially Empower activities would be more appropriate.
6. The 3E Framework does not promote the Empower level as an ideal, and an important part of the approach is that tutors and their students will start from (and may end up at) different points on the 3E continuum in terms of applying and using technology in a particular learning, teaching and assessment context.
7. If the tutor is doing a lot of work at the Extend level, then aiming for the Empower level in some aspects of what they do would be very worthwhile. However, if a tutor wants to begin by Enhancing several aspects of what they already do, then this is an equally valuable step in the adoption of technology-enhanced learning.
8. Classroom to fully online? Although Enhance represents simple adjustments to existing practice, and Extend a more purposively blended approach, Empower does not imply fully online. Although practice at the Empower level could result in fully online courses, this is not the intended end-point for the use of technology in learning, teaching and assessment except where fully online provision is being purposefully developed at advanced levels of study.
9. As students transition along the 3E continuum, the tutor is relinquishing more control and responsibility to their learners. While this brings benefits, it can take adjusting to and requires the tutor to be comfortable with assuming a facilitating role or, for some kinds of activities, a co-learning role (e.g. student-led seminars).
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