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Unit information: Learning, Technology and Society in 2015/16

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Unit name Learning, Technology and Society
Unit code EDUCM0039
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Manchester
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Sociotechnical changes create a wide range of challenges and opportunities for educators and those who support learning around the world. Digital technologies (such as credit-card sized computers, digital games, mobile devices, massive online open courses, robots, social media, tangible technologies) are increasingly becoming embedded in our societies and being used for a wide range of purposes in educational settings. This unit will provide a critical introduction to debates about the relationship between learning, technology and society, examining sociotechnical change with a focus on the past, present and the future.

This unit assumes that we cannot understand technology without reference to the concept of ‘society’, a term that requires careful theoretical reflection. The unit therefore explores a range of theoretical approaches concerning learning, technology and society, and encourages students to analyse current debates about technology from a variety of perspectives. The unit then applies these theories in a variety of learning contexts, in educational policies and in practices. The underlying assumption is that the meaning of all of the terms in the unit title cannot be taken for granted and that they should be subject to critical inquiry using a wide-ranging literature.

The aims for this unit are:

  • To introduce key theories relating to learning, technology and society;
  • To provide students with an understanding of sociotechnical change and its various effects on and in learning contexts, broadly defined;
  • To provide students with conceptual and methodological tools to understand current policies surrounding digital technologies and their use in education and other settings;
  • To enable students to analyse specific uses of learning technology practices in education and other settings in the light of the perspectives introduced in the unit.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate that they can:

  • Critically assess theories relating to learning, technology and society
  • Utilise a range of theories relating to sociotechnical change in the context of changing educational landscapes
  • Utilize a range of new technologies to undertake independent research and conduct effective group work
  • Choose appropriate theories and put these theories to work in critically analyzing specific uses of technology in educational and other settings
  • Write coherent and critical reflective learning accounts

Teaching details

Teaching will adopt a blended approach involving a mix of face to face lectures with group work and activities provided online. Social media will also be used to support learning. Reflective practice is key to the teaching and learning experience – students will be asked to keep a reflective learning diary that will become their reflective critique at the end of the course unit.

Contact Hours:

20 hours

Assessment Details

Summative assessment:

For this unit students are required to submit two pieces of work. Both pieces of work are assessed as 50% and will receive individual feedback and a literal grade mapped against the fixed point numerical scale used in the Graduate School of Education. These two grades will create an overall weighted grade used to determine the overall unit grade. NB - This numerical weighted grade will be mapped back onto the literal grading scale.

Part 1: A 2000 word reflective critique demonstrating critical engagement with the theories, concepts and methods introduced on the course and their application in a range of settings. Students will be given guidelines on keeping a journal throughout the course and it will be made clear that students must go beyond description to critically reflect on their own learning processes throughout the course unit. (Weighted as 50%)

Part 2: A 2000 word academic essay theoretically examining an ‘educational technology’, a technology practice or an educational policy document. Students will be expected to critically apply theories and concepts learnt on the course. (Weighted as 50%)

Reading and References

  • danah boyd & Kate Crawford (2012) Critical questions for Big Data, Information, Communication & Society, 15:5, 662-679, DOI:10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878
  • Rebecca Eynon (2009) Mapping the digital divide in Britain: implications for learning and education, Learning, Media and Technology, 34:4, 277-290, DOI:10.1080/17439880903345874
  • Facer, K. (2012) Learning Futures: Education, technology and social change. London: Routledge
  • Loveless, A. and Williamson, B. (2013) Learning Identities in a Digital Age: Rethinking creativity, education and technology. London: Routledge
  • Selwyn, N, (2011) Education and Technology: Key issues and debates. London: Routledge
  • Selwyn, N. & Facer, K. (2013) The Politics of Education and Technology. London: Routledge.