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Title: A critique of the policy and practice associated with the adoption of educational technologies in higher education
Author: Michaelson, Rosa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 6488
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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As each change in computing becomes more generally available or popular as a form of educational technology in higher education, an associated set of visionary and dystopian responses has arisen, in which new technology is presented as an inevitable change mechanism, and as the answer to several problems such as the issue of wider access, the globalization of education and budget constrictions. But how are these new forms of educational technology used in practice, and how do the outcomes of their adoption differ from the expectations of those who fund new developments? Using the social shaping of technology as the main theoretical basis, this thesis investigates different scales of educational technology adoption, as well as the cyclic nature of the policyadoption nexus, demonstrating how differences in adoption processes are amplified by specific forms of technology and examining the extent to which technology lends itself to control by specific groups. There are three parts to the thesis. The first section presents the theoretical framework, a discussion of method in educational research, including specific methods employed in this work, the context for the research (a historical mapping of technology and policy), and the identification of important issues arising in the adoption of educational technologies during funding initiatives of the 1970s and 80s. The middle section of the thesis consists of two case studies, both of which occurred during the period of interest in learning environments and web-based systems: that of a small, single-subject project and, in contrast, the university-wide adoption of a virtual learning environment. The third section consists of the critique, in which the issues arising in different phases of educational technology adoption are compared, noting when these differences can be shown to be strongly influenced by a particular form of technology or a particular group of people. The are four main findings from the work of this thesis. First, the results suggest that there are distinct cycles of technological change and associated policy intervention, in which previous forms of educational technology are subsumed. However, analysis suggests that the rhetoric of the previous cycle often persists in succeeding phases. Second, that it is possible to identify to what extent technology rather than social process predetermines the adoption outcome, as in the case of the second case study. Third, the thesis demonstrates the existence of an implicit assumption concerning computers and computing as educational technology that there is little if no difference between university education and distance learning. Finally, an alternative history of successful educational technology adoption exists, which is not of interest to many of the groups identified in the thesis, does not produce the same level of rhetoric about innovation or change, and hence does not feature directly in policy statements and funding initiatives, but is one that has been more directly controlled and shaped by educators.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available