Sharing and shaping effective institutional practice in TEL through the 3E Framework

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


As Higher Education institutions seek to further embed technology-enhanced learning (TEL) within their course provision, and for addressing wider educational needs, we inevitably become more aware of the challenges to be faced in modelling what’s possible for those who have yet to engage in technology-enhanced practice, valuing and sharing current good practice in a useful way, and establishing a common understanding about the place TEL has within our institutions.

In respect to the latter issue it has been common practice in many universities to introduce an ‘institutional benchmark’ for TEL, often based on a set of minimum expectations for what information and resources will be provided on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). While not without value, engagement with this kind of approach can be problematic if it is seen as a top down edict, as insensitive to different disciplines, or promoting a generic template for TEL based only on institutional technologies (Czerniewicz and Brown, 2009; Hardaker and Singh, 2011). In seeing these limitations in the ‘minimum presence’ guidance for the VLE previously provided to staff, and to take forward good practice in a jointly owned way, Edinburgh Napier University recently developed a new institutional benchmark for the use of technology in learning, teaching and assessment (Smyth et al, 2011).

Comprising a 3E Framework that is based on an Enhance-Extend-Empower continuum, the new benchmark advocates a ‘small blends’ approach as the starting point for making active use of technology to enhance key aspects of the learning and teaching experience, and provides guidance on how technology can be used to support activities that extend the learners choice and control over how they learn, and to empower them to learn in ways that reflect as closely as possible the professional environments they are preparing for. To model general and discipline-specific good practice the 3E Framework provides illustrative examples for a range of learning and teaching activities, and examples of modules in different subject areas mapped to the framework. The 3E Framework has also been designed as platform independent, and to model uses of institutional and external technologies in ways that are easy for educators to grasp and see the potential of.

This chapter explores the design of the 3E Framework and its successful application in staff development contexts, how it is being used to inform thinking about TEL in alignment with important strategic initiatives including the move to a new VLE, and the ways in which staff at Edinburgh Napier are being given ownership of the 3E Framework through its embedding in learning and teaching awards, establishing of local champions, and the authoring of good practice exemplars.

With a strong focus on respecting practitioners, effective modelling of practice, and the sharing of lessons learned, this chapter will conclude with an overview of how other institutions have been adapting and working with the 3E Framework to support their own staff in TEL initiatives since its publication under Creative Commons as an open educational resource in late 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCase Studies in e-learning
EditorsSue Greener
Place of PublicationReading
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781909507814
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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