Learning from a Deceptively Spacious Policy Discourse

  • Sarah HayesEmail author
Part of the Research in Networked Learning book series (RINL)


In this chapter, the way in which varied terms such as Networked learning, e-learning and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) have each become colonised to support a dominant, economically-based world view of educational technology is discussed. Critical social theory about technology, language and learning is brought into dialogue with examples from a corpus-based Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of UK policy texts for educational technology between 1997 and 2012. Though these policy documents offer much promise for enhancement of people’s performance via technology, the human presence to enact such innovation is missing. Given that ‘academic workload’ is a ‘silent barrier’ to the implementation of TEL strategies (Gregory & Lodge, 2015), analysis further exposes, through empirical examples, that the academic labour of both staff and students appears to be unacknowledged. Global neoliberal capitalist values have strongly territorialised the contemporary university (Hayes and Jandrić. Open Review of Educational Research, 1(1), 193–210, 2014), utilising existing naïve, utopian arguments about what technology alone achieves. Whilst the chapter reveals how humans are easily ‘evicted’, even from discourse about their own learning (Hayes. Evicted by words: Seeking to reoccupy educational technology policy texts, 2015), it also challenges staff and students to seek to re-occupy the important territory of policy to subvert the established order. We can use the very political discourse that has disguised our networked learning practices, in new explicit ways, to restore our human visibility.


Networked learning E-learning Technology enhanced learning Critical discourse analysis Policy discourse Hidden academic labour 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Learning, Innovation and Professional PracticeAston UniversityBirminghamUK

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