Reframing the Role of Educational Media Technologies

Wim Westera

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    Distance universities excel in using digital media technologies for content delivery and collaborative interaction to compensate for limited face-to-face opportunities. Now that an ever-growing variety of media technologies, devices and services are flooding the market, possession of expertise about the educational opportunities of these technologies is becoming a strategic asset for any education provider. Distance universities may act as informative examples in this regard . This paper discusses how distance universities face the challenges of the ever-shortening lifespans of these new technologies. We describe some of the disruptive changes effected by the Internet, and discuss the critical factors for adopting and implementing the associated information and communication technologies in education. Although many practical, organisational, pedagogical and financial factors are relevant, this paper focuses on hidden conceptual barriers that are the result of misconceptions about the role and function that technology possesses and that seem to foster education’s intrinsic conservatism. Particularly, the notion of technology instrumentalism, which emphasises the one-sided subservient role of technology, is a widely popular, but at the same time a naïve, greatly outdated and fallacious view of technology that confuses the discussions and hampers educational innovation. This paper aims to contribute to the removal of these misconceptions by framing technology in a contemporary view that emphasises the enabling role of technology —particularly media technologies— to develop new pedagogical models and to offer new opportunities for augmenting human cognitive performance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-32
    Number of pages14
    JournalQuarterly Review of Distance Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Education
    • Media
    • Learning
    • ICT
    • distance education
    • transience
    • scepticism
    • instrumentalism
    • Educational Technology
    • Educational Media
    • Open Universities
    • Influence of Technology
    • Internet
    • Information Technology
    • Barriers
    • Misconceptions
    • Educational Innovation
    • Technological Advancement
    • Web 2.0 technologies


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