7Problem Spaces: A Framework and Questions for Critical Engagement with Learning Technologies in Formal Educational Contexts

Keith Turvey and Norbert Pachler

7.1 Introduction: Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Learning Technologies

In this chapter we attempt to set out the genealogy of a conceptual framework for the critical analysis of learning technologies in formal educational contexts with a particular emphasis on schools, drawing on significant research and theory in this contested area. In so doing we make some reference to notable contemporary technology-enhanced learning “initiatives” internationally. The aim of the chapter is to provide a generic framework of critical questions that practitioners, researchers, and policy makers in the field can use to illuminate the complex and nuanced domain of the use of learning technologies in formal education. Consequently, this chapter takes an antithetical stance to instrumental or deterministic views of learning technologies often predicated on “means to an end,” “best practice,” or “what works” meta-narratives (Selwyn and Facer 2013) that focus on narrow measures of gains in attainment (Crook et al. 2010; Pachler 2014; Weston and Bain 2010).

First, such views—often promoted by corporate technology vendors—are unhelpful as they project learning technologies as simplistic solutions to educational problems, concealing the reality that learning technologies bring added layers of complexity, including political and moral ambiguities, to the ...

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