Cautiously optimistic : the work associated with on-line university teaching
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Leonie Rowan
Contemporary educational, economic, technological and equity pressures have given rise to a veritable flood of 'innovative' university teaching practices ostensibly designed to make teaching at once more effective, more efficient and more attractive to the student population. While the existence of these teaching innovations is easily documented and while many are celebrated uncritically - and optimistically - for their 'innovative' and 'flexible' nature, there is an absence of research focused on the actual and ongoing work (including significant technological, political, social, ethical and economic negotiations) required to make any educational innovation durable and stable. This paper reports on research within a current Australian Research Council Large Grant project that is designed to explore and document the actual work required to make university teaching innovations stable and durable. Drawing on the analytical resources provided by the sociology of translation (actor-network theory: ANT) and focusing on a particular instance of web-based university teaching within a Queensland university, this paper explores the usefulness of ANT for identifying the full range of influences, pressures and contexts (social and technical) which shape the design, development, implementation and, potentially, the stabilisation of educational innovations. The paper explores the way ANT based educational research can help us translate optimistic teaching goals into sustainable teaching practices.