28The Dystopian Futures

Neil Selwyn

28.1 Introduction

Learning technology is a topic that has long been associated with expectation and speculation. It is an area that is driven by questions of what might happen, and of what could be. In the main, this forward-looking perspective tends to be broadly optimistic and forward looking in tone, despite the obvious impediments to the implementation of digital technology in educational settings. As Colin Latchem (2014, 5) observes:

The last 40 years have seen an ever-repeating cycle of hope and hype, adoption of much-heralded new tools or methods, lack of evidence of positive educational outcomes and subsequent transfer of enthusiasm to the next development.

This prevailing hopefulness and enthusiasm reflects the fact that learning technology is essentially a “positive project.” Notwithstanding the day-to-day frustrations of working in schools, universities, and other education settings, the majority of people working in this area retain an underlying belief that digital technologies are capable of improving learning and/or education in some way. This mindset is evident, for example, in the recent tendency to refer to “technology enhanced learning” or before this to “computer assisted learning,” descriptions that are both intended to leave little doubt over the connection between technology and the improvement of learning and teaching. Accordingly, the de facto ambition of the learning technologist is presumed usually to be one of finding ways ...

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