Enabling disruptive technologies for higher education

Flavin, Michael (2014). Enabling disruptive technologies for higher education. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f845

Abstract

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK have invested significantly in technologies for learning and teaching, especially technologies designed to support learning and teaching such as Virtual Learning Environments, which are more or less universal. However, technologies provided by HEIs have not been universally successful in terms of adoption and usage. Meanwhile, academic community members use non-institutional technologies, or “disruptive technologies,” to support their learning and teaching.

A number of researchers anticipated that the use of technology in learning and teaching would transform higher education. However, and to date, this has not happened. There is therefore a need to understand how non-institutional, disruptive technologies can be effectively incorporated into formal structures for supporting learning and teaching. In order to address this issue, this thesis set out to understand how HEIs in the UK can engage constructively with non-institutional technologies, using the concept of disruptive technologies as the primary analytical framework. The underlying aim was to establish whether non-institutional technologies can be effectively incorporated into HEIs systems for supporting learning and teaching.

The thesis investigates these issues by carrying out a detailed analysis of practices of academic community members with non-institutional technologies used to support learning and teaching, over a period of two years. Data is gathered via surveys, interviews and observations. Study findings indicate that non-institutional technologies are used frequently to support learning and teaching in higher education, often in preference to institutional technologies. Study findings also indicate that non-institutional technologies can be effectively incorporated into learning and teaching if social and cultural practices around usage are clearly understood prior to incorporation.

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