Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

M. Oliver (2011) Technological determinism in educational technology research: some alternative ways of thinking about the relationship between learning and technology, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2011), 27, 373–384

This paper argues that research on the educational uses of technology frequently overemphasizes the influence of technology. Research in the field is considered a form of critical perspective, and assumptions about technology are questioned. Technological determinism is introduced, and different positions on this concept are identified. These are used to discuss the ways in which work within the field might be described as technologically deterministic. Four theoretical perspectives (activity theory, communities of practice, actor–network theory, and the social construction of technology) are then briefly characterized, demonstrating that alternative positions are viable, and positioning each in relation to the earlier discussion of technological determinism. The paper concludes by arguing that research, building on such alternative conceptions of technology, is important in developing our understanding of the relationship between technology and learning, as well as identifying potential methodological implications.

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