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Unit information: Education in a Time of Social and Technological Change in 2021/22

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Education in a Time of Social and Technological Change
Unit code EDUCM0064
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Manchester
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Sociotechnical changes create a wide range of challenges and opportunities for educators and those who support learning around the world. Digital technologies (such as credit-card sized computers, digital games, mobile devices, massive online open courses, robots, social media, tangible technologies) are increasingly becoming embedded in our societies and being used for a wide range of purposes in educational settings. At the same time we are seeing growing global economic inequalities, increasing environmental and resource crisis, rapid demographic and political change and changing learning ecologies where traditional institutions are increasingly seen as ‘unfit’ for purpose. This unit will provide a critical introduction to debates about the relationship between social and technological change and education.

This unit assumes that we cannot understand the current educational landscape without considering social and technological change, and that this requires careful theoretical reflection. The unit therefore explores a range of theoretical approaches concerning technological and social change. This includes the analysis of current debates about technology in education and debates about how social change and technological change are intertwined. The unit then applies these theories in a variety of learning contexts, in educational policies and in practices. The underlying assumption is that social and technological change cannot be understood without engaging in critical inquiry using a wide-ranging literature.

The aims for this unit are:

  • To introduce key theories relating to education in a time of social and technological change;
  • To provide students with an understanding of sociotechnical change and its various effects on and in learning contexts, broadly defined;
  • To provide students with conceptual and methodological tools to understand current practices and policies surrounding digital technologies and their various ‘effects’ in education and other settings;
  • To enable students to analyse specific uses of technology practices and policies in education and other settings in the light of the perspectives introduced in the unit.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this course unit students will be able to:

  1. Critically assess theories relating to education in a time of social and technological changes;
  2. Produce multimodal, coherent and critical reflective learning accounts through a range of activities, including the use of blogging;
  3. Utilise a range of theories relating to sociotechnical change in the context of changing educational landscapes to understand the various ‘effects’ of social and technological change;
  4. Choose appropriate theories and put these theories to work in critically analyzing specific uses of technology in educational and other settings.

Teaching details

Teaching will adopt a blended approach involving a mix of online asynchronous and synchronous lectures, reading, group work and activities provided online. Reflective practice is key to the teaching and learning experience - students will be asked to keep an online reflective learning diary/blog to record, reflect and critique on their learning during this unit.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment

Throughout the unit, students will produce multimodal and critical reflections on the concepts introduced during class, using a blog or other digital media. Blog posts will be discussed with peers and shared in synchronous or asynchronous online discussions. Formative feedback will be provided by tutors commenting on at least one blog post per student, as well as discussing good examples with the whole group.

Summative assessment:

Part 1 (40%) (ILOs 1 & 2)

A 1500-word or equivalent critical and reflective account of your own engagement with the concepts and examples discussed on this unit, to include reflection on your own learning and understanding. This reflective account should be developed from, and refer to, one or more blog posts or other activity engaged in through the course of the unit.

Part 2 (60%) (ILOs 1,3&4)

A 2500-word academic essay theoretically examining an example of sociotechnical change and its various ‘effects’ in a chosen educational context. Students will be expected to critically apply theories and concepts learnt on the course.

Reading and References

Biesta, G., Feld, J, Hodkinson, P., Macleod, F. and Goodson, I. (2011) Improving Learning through the Lifecourse. London: Routledge

danah boyd & Kate Crawford (2012) Critical questions for Big Data, Information, Communication & Society, 15:5, 662-679, DOI:10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878

Facer, K. (2012) Learning Futures: Education, technology and social change. London: Routledge

Elkjaer, B. (2009) A learning theory for the future. Chapter 5 in Illeris, K. (2009) Contemporary Theories of Learning: Learning Theorists - In Their Own Words, London: Routledge. [electronic resource]

Livingstone, S. and Sefton-Green, J. (2016) The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age. New York University Press:New York

Loveless, A. and Williamson, B. (2013) Learning Identities in a Digital Age: Rethinking Creativity, Education and Technology. London: Routledge

Selwyn, N, (2011) Education and Technology: Key Issues and Debates. London: Routledge

Selwyn, N. & Facer, K. (2013) The Politics of Education and Technology. London: Routledge.