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MirandaNet Fellowship Profiles (MirandaNet Archive - as of March 2015)
Educational Technology. A ‘missing link’ perspective on Utopian or compromised reality.
Since its inception in the early 1980s digital technology, in its current format, is now considered to be at the heart of contemporary education in the developed world, supported by national ICT strategies and exponentially rising levels of public funding. (£600 million in the UK by 2014 despite frozen budgets in overall school expenditure). Yet the promised educational transformation, as measured by learning outcomes, has failed to materialise while developing countries continue to emulate such unproven digital educational programmes. A substantial body of empirical research, conducted by policy makers, business and educators over the past forty years has consistently found sustained and tangible beneficial evidence elusive.
My qualitative-based study seeks to explore this dichotomy by critically investigating what is actually happening when digital technology meets education in UK secondary schools as opposed to what is often envisaged as ‘should’ or ‘might’ be happening, by moving the debate beyond the deterministic view of education and technology and the simplistic ‘cause and effect’, impact which focuses on explaining why technology is not solving problems which is outside technologies’ remit to address, to one which makes greater sense of educational phenomenon by reference to the broader context of the social, political, historical and cultural conditions that influence all educational practices and which recognises the mutual social-shaping nature of the relationship.
This investigation utilises in depth life-history style interviews in a descriptive framework to explore how secondary school Heads of Department have responded to the introduction of ICT from the 1980s to the current day, exploring both continuity and change over time and seeking to understand within this context why (often unforeseen) developments have occurred, how they are perceived by teachers, how they have evolved and with what consequences for the profession and educational institutions.
By giving those with a long term understanding of the processes, namely educational middle managers, (at the crucial intersection of organisational structures) a hitherto denied voice in explaining their perspectives, experiences and behaviours in their own words, it is proposed that the ‘missing link’ in this debate will be addressed and that a unique contribution to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of educational technology will be made.
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