Bayne (2015) deconstructs the term ‘technology-enhanced learning’ (TEL) and states it is UK specific (p.6). She argues that the term ‘fails to do justice equally to the disruptive, disturbing and generative dimensions of the academy’s enmeshment with the digital’ (p.7).
One aspect of Bayne’s argument relates to the use of ‘enhancement’: ‘Part of the problem here is the inherent conservatism of any discourse of “enhancement”, assuming as it does a pre-existing set of practices which are not in any need of radical shift or displacement, but are rather simply open to being made even “better” by the judicious application of a little (in this case technological) assistance’ (p.10). It is, however, possible that ‘enhancement’ can imply a sufficiency rather than a deficit, and it is hard to imagine a system without scope forimprovement.
Bayne cites Fenwick, Edwards & Sawchuck (2011), who critique educational research for tending to ‘privilege the intentional human subject’ (2001, p. 1). However, the use of an Activity Theory lens can identify the human subject as one of a range of factors, but without asserting its pre-eminence or indeed centrality in practice.
Bayne raises an interesting point when she argues, ‘In most instances, when we speak of “TEL” we are in fact referring to technology enhanced teaching, and to institutional goals…’ (p.15). TEL strategies issued by UK HEIs might well bear out the argument. Bayne develops her point by arguing that the primary concern ‘is oriented to specific teaching and administrative goals (for example, improved assessment and feedback or more flexible course provision) rather than to learning per se’ (p.15, emphasis in original).
Drawing on Biesta (2012), Bayne argues that learning is teleological and contextual (2015, p.16). The point is, arguably, a truism, but it is sometimes in danger of being overlooked.
Bayne, S. (2015) ‘What’s the matter with “technology-enhanced learning”?’, Learning, Media and Technology, 40 (1), 5-20.
Biesta, G. 2012. ‘Giving Teaching Back to Education: Responding to the Disappearance of the Teacher,’ Phenomenology & Practice 6 (2), 35–49.
Fenwick, T., R. Edwards & P. Sawchuk (2011), Emerging Approaches to Educational Research: Tracing the Sociomaterial. London, Routledge.