Research themes overview

The Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning conducts a range of research work organised around three main themes.

Inclusivity, pedagogy and learning

Inclusivity, pedagogy and learning

We are interested in how educational uses of technology can change practices to become more inclusive. Introducing technology into practice is often argued to be disruptive: where established practices are discarded, innovative forms of learning are fostered and so new opportunities are created for the previously disempowered to participate and empower themselves. That disruption of established practice might be seen to arise, for example, by enabling new ways of communication between people; by making more accessible a range of resources; and through the provision of enriched forms of information representation—video, image, sound and text, or ‘multimodal’ combinations. We wish to investigate the reality of those claims—understanding how practices actually change where technology is introduced, which properties of technology provide the bases for the disruption of particular practices, how power relations are transformed or persist, what opportunities can be created to empower the marginalised, and the range of outcomes that might be typical and possible.

Read more about our work on inclusivity, pedagogy and learning.

Criticality, theory and research

Criticality, theory and research

We are enthusiastic about technology enhanced learning, but we are also critical. We want to improve learning using technology, but we understand that there is no single or direct relationship between technology, learning and education. We recognise the need to theorise the complex role of technology in educational practices. That if we want to change learning and education using technology, we must account for theories of learning, education, and institutional change. That if we want to change the world by improving education, we must account for the wider nature of that world: sociologically, politically, historically, and economically. That we must develop disparate visions of technology enhanced learning that learn from, further develop, and speak back to other disciplines—so understanding the nuances of educational phenomena from a range of perspectives. That theorising technology enhanced learning and engaging with academic fields is a necessary precursor to empirical advancement and the changing of real-world practice.

Read more about our work on criticality, theory and research.

Mobility, time and space

Mobility, time and space

In recent years the settings in which education occurs have become more varied and less predictable. Online technologies connect learners across great distances and link them with those back home when they travel. The use of communication technologies can change the pace and timing of educational interactions: whether enabling bursts of informal communication, slower and more reflective responses, or the sending of messages at unconventional but convenient moments. The physical environments of education are infused with personal technologies and ubiquitous information, so even how people communicate face-to-face can be re-shaped. Those developments require a deeper understanding of the physical and temporal nature of education in a digital age. We wish to better understand the roles of physical location in learning, including in online distance education; how technology supports people during difficult transitions in their lives; how people integrate and separate the time spent engaging with formal programmes with their other professional and personal commitments; and how institutions provide spaces that support new forms of education. In short we focus on how people appropriate and combine the different spaces, times and technologies of their lives to accomplish their objectives.

Read more about our work on mobility, time and space.