23The Investment in Learning Technologies: Evidencing Value for Money?

Jane Massy

23.1 Introduction

In the past, the promise of pedagogical innovation, the expectation of significant improvements in knowledge and skills, and the anticipation of “disruption” in the cost of education and training prompted investment in learning technologies running into multiples of billions by providers, customers, and potential users across the world. Disappointment in user take up (“we built it but they did not come”), a majority of teachers that made no or only limited efforts to design new pedagogical approaches using technology, huge write-offs, the turn of the century dotcom bubble burst, and, more recently, the banking and economic crisis and recession across the globe has led many to question the value of investing in learning technologies. Most investments by client users, whether ministries of education, schools, universities, or workplace organizations, require a robust and incontrovertible business case to gain approval and few get passed—not least because of past experience of projects where no value was evident for so many investments. In education, while there is still a high level of interest, innovation tends to be driven by the desire to reduce costs, rather than improve educational outcomes. Innovation in pedagogy and institutional support models has been rare. The highly innovative “disruptive” models, such as that led by Betty Collis at the University of Twente in the 1990s and ...

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