Past Event details

Theorising Technology in Digital Higher Education

Monday, 03 November 2014

A one day seminar hosted by the Digital Education group in the School of Education, University of Edinburgh and the School of Education, University of Stirling, and supported by funding from the journal Pedagogy, Culture and Society and SRHE.

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the theorising of digital higher education, with particular attention being given to the nature and role of the computer-based technologies that are central to evolving practices. In a 2011 special issue of Research in Learning Technologies on theory, a number of contributors elaborated perspectives pointing to the active role of technology in shaping practices. In 2012, Martin Oliver also drew attention to the ways in which technologies are not simply tools, but are socially shaped and shape the social. This interest in theorising digital technologies is part of a wider social scientific endeavour to understand the role of computing technology, software, data, algorithms, code/space, visualisations, etc. in the framing of practices, building upon the well-established tradition of science and technology studies. It contrasts sharply with those who seek to argue that the power of computing and big data put an end to the need for theory.

Computing technologies play powerful roles in shaping the substance and relations of digital education, the possibilities, limits and imaginings over which can be diverse. And while the possibilities for software may be endlessly extendable, as some have argued, as educators we have judgements to make about their educational value and desirability. Theoretical work helps us to understand and postulate the ethical and political as well as practical possibilities. However, while such theoretical work has burgeoned in parts of the social sciences, in particular in the emerging area of software studies, among sociologists, geographers and STS researchers, it has received much less attention among educational researchers.

The focus of this symposium is therefore on:

  •    exploring different theorising of technology within digital university practices
  •    the extent to which there are or could be specifically educational theories
  •    the implications for research and practice of different theoretical framings


The Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC): Toward an accessible, open, accountable, transformative and transforming feminist university of our dreams

Alexandra Juhasz, Professor of Media Studies, Pitzer College

Calculating academics: theorizing the algorithmic organization of the digital university

Ben Williamson, Lecturer, School of Education, University of Stirling

From the (Online) Lecture to the (E)Textbook: Education as always-already Technological

Norm Friesen, Associate Professor, Dept. of Educational Technology. Boise State University 

Network: Digital University
Date(s): Monday, 03 November 2014
Times: 11.00 -16.00
Location: Edinburgh University Moray House Campus
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