Technology, History and Pedagogy: Exploring the Distance between Theory and Practice.

  • Graeme Athey

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This thesis examines the apparent paradox between the introduction of new technology into the classroom and studies that have reported that they have had little effect on learning (Cuban, 1986; 2001; 2003; Selwyn, 2014; 2015; 2016a; 2016b). If this is the case, then it raises the question of why.Central to this thesis is the apparent distance between expectations of technology in teaching and learning and the current practices of teachers and young people. The context for this enquiry is a special school in the UK that is designated as an IT Showcase School. Following an examination of the literature, the thesis provides an account of the history of the Gutenberg press as a means of identifying how technology might change social and educational practices. Given the length of time it takes for major technological change to take effect, any study of the impact of new technology needs to be placed in a historical context. Of particular note, is that with respect to the Church the role of both the priesthood and the laity changed as a result of the Gutenberg press. The dissemination of knowledge through the books produced by the technology of the Press enabled the traditional authority of the Church to be challenged. This analysis is used as a guide to examining the current social and educational practices of young people and teachers to try to elicit whether any parallels can be drawn between the history of the Gutenberg and current uses of new technology. The historical analysis lays the ground for a study of the views of teachers and students to assess the ways new technology is being used by them. The views of young people and teachers are garnered through focus groups, a collaborative IT tool, and open-ended questionnaires.It is found that the traditional role of the teacher is being challenged as are the ways young people communicate outside the classroom. The teachers raised a series of issues that were barriers to the innovative use of technology, while the students drew a strong distinction between the uses of technology outside school and inside, which may also deter innovative technologies for learning. This thesis concludes with a set of practical implications for how we might improve the incorporation of technology in the learning process, more effectively.
Date of Award21 Nov 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHugh Lauder (Supervisor)


  • Education
  • Technology
  • Pedagogy
  • History

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