Academic perceptions of educational technology: towards communicative rationality in the higher education institution
AbstractThis thesis explores the management of change in higher education by applying a Habermasian conceptual framework to understand, explore and operationalise academic perceptions of Educational Technology. It questions the uncritical acceptance of techgerialism (i.e. managerialism through technology) in the Higher Education Institution (HEI) in a case study of academic perceptions of Educational Technology over a decade of change in one post-1992 HEI. Perceptions were drawn from participants in one school in the HEI to counter the paucity of research focusing on academics’ views of Educational Technology. Increasingly in-depth interviews were conducted over three rounds of data collection in an emergent research design based on narrative analysis. Each phase of change was interpreted as an example of formal, political and then more collegial change respectively. Academic participants expressed broadly similar negative perceptions of Educational Technology change in their HEI: suspicion, resistance, displacement and lack of confidence in leadership. These were categorised as examples of Habermasian social pathologies (anomie, alienation, disintegration and social instability) rooted in concerns about an increasingly powerful HEI systemworld. When discussing Educational Technology, participants expressed socio-cultural concerns more readily than they addressed pedagogic issues and demonstrated both critical and tolerant beliefs towards the management of change. The insider-outsider position of the researcher changed during the research which influences its development. The impact of this shifting perspective is considered reflexively throughout the thesis. The main contribution to knowledge is the augmentation of a Habermasian conceptual framework around lifeworld, systemworld and communicative rationality. Adapting his theory of social pathologies, the thesis suggests that there are corollary values, predominantly unarticulated by the participants, which may ameliorate these pathologies. The Educational Technology pathologies found in the data are ‘inverted’ to values (e.g. anomie to enculturation, alienation to solidarity) as part of the analysis. The thesis concludes by presenting a mechanism for operationalising a Habermasian public sphere, informed by these identified values, as a forum for developing intersubjective consensus and undistorted communication in the HEI.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Enquiry.
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