Educational Technology and Communication

University of Manchester, Manchester Institute of Education, MA Digital Technologies and Communication in Education.


The ETC unit is led by Dr. Drew Whitworth, (follow on twitter) author of Information ObesityRadical Information Literacy and Mapping Information Landscapes. Teaching of the unit is divided into four blocks exploring: What is a learning environment; what shapes learning environments; deconstructing and (re)designing learning environments; and looking forward, looking back.


Block 1: What is a learning environment?

Block 1 explores learning environments and ecologies of resources. Students use mapping activities to explore and represent their own learning environments


Block 2: What shapes learning environments?

This block introduces the idea of technology affordance: that technologies are not just ‘black boxes’ but can be adapted to many different uses, almost regardless of the original knowledge that was designed into them. The social shaping of technology, the use of social media for learning, communities of practice and professional development are further themes in this block.


Block 3: Deconstructing and (re)designing learning environments

This block explores instructional design, including the work of Robert Gagne, considerations for designing in the service of learning such as cognitive load and frameworks for supporting learning design such as Diane Laurillard’s conversational framework.


Accessibility and appropriate technology way it can empower yet also disempower learners is investigated in this block. A field trip to a museum, not a formal educational institution but part of the education infrastructure, forms the basis of an assessed task.


Block 4: Looking forward, reflecting back

The final block of the unit explores the learning theory connectivism and the MOOC phenomenon before looking forward to developing technologies such as augmented reality and the increasing influence of big data and learning analytics.




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