Rethinking Education in the Digital Age

  • Neil Selwyn


The educational use of technology has remained on the periphery of the sociological gaze for a number of wholly understandable reasons. In comparison to other areas of society, education offers a rather underwhelming case study of the technological. Sociologists wishing to gain rich insights into the dynamic nature of technology use in everyday life are best advised to look elsewhere. Conversely, the grand narratives that dominate sociological accounts of education touch rarely upon technology use. At a micro-level of analysis, sociologists of education continue to direct their attention towards unpacking enduring issues of inequality, resistance, identity and culture which pattern the processes and practices of ‘doing education’. Macro-level studies, on the other hand, remain concentrated on issues of social mobility and the entrenched stratification of educational opportunities and outcomes (see Delamont, 2000). Whilst implicated in many of these issues, ‘technology’ has simply not merited any particular foregrounding within such accounts.1 Yet whereas the ‘new’ information technologies of the 1980s and 1990s could be said in the hindsight to have been little more than tokenistic additions to educational settings, digital technologies now constitute an ever-increasing presence within the processes and practices of contemporary education.


Education Technology Individual Learner Digital Technology Educational Setting Grand Narrative 
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© Neil Selwyn 2013

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  • Neil Selwyn

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