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Journal Article

Empirical Data and Emerging Power Critiques: Lessons Learned  pp312-321

Caroline Stockman

© Dec 2016 Volume 14 Issue 5, Editor: Robert Ramberg, pp291 - 349

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Abstract: This paper evidences the importance of maintaining a dynamic interpretive stance in e‑learning research. In particular, it shows how a rigorous methodology, tailored to the research question, overlooked the importance of power and knowledge in technology acceptance research for education. It was perhaps the affordance of the mixed methods design, explained in this paper, which allowed for a blind spot to come to the surface, and prompt a renegotiation of the data. Empirical studies on the use of technology in education don’t always take the pervasiveness of power dynamics into account. Yet this study shows how direct and effective they are in a teacher’s decision to use or not use a technology. Using Michel Foucault’s theory as an analytical tool, the findings from an original empirical study are re‑examined. The analysis offers a new understanding of the critical manifestations of a performance culture in UK schooling, which goes hand in hand with a culture of observation and accountability. This is further underlined by the authority of time pressures. Both of these go at the cost of pedagogical considerations, which is arguably the primary concern of educators. That is where a power critique shows it value, but also its necessity. It traces the breaking points of the system; the moment where it undermines the rationality which it uses as its own justification. We correctly motivate our research choices through methodological paradigms and domain loyalties, but including a power critique suggests a new imperative for e‑learning research. It offers the possibility to question normalised forces and better understand technology acceptance in education. We need to consider this critical position in any research design to continue challenging our theorising about e‑learning.


Keywords: Keywords: technology acceptance, power, culture, Foucault, Ofsted.


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Journal Issue

Volume 14 Issue 5 / Dec 2016  pp291‑349

Editor: Robert Ramberg

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Guest Editors

Ramberg Robert Robert Ramberg earned his PhD in cognitive psychology at the department of psychology, Stockholm University and holds a position as professor at the department of computer‑ and systems sciences, Stockholm University (Technology enhanced learning and collaboration). Ramberg also holds a position as research director at the Swedish air force simulation center (FLSC), Swedish Defense Research Agency. Broadly conceptualized, his research focuses the design and evaluation of representations and representational artefacts to support learning, training and collaboration. Of particular interest to his research are socio‑cultural perspectives on learning and cognition, pedagogy and how these theories must be adapted when designing and evaluating technology enhanced learning and training environments. And more specifically how artifacts of various kinds (information technology and other tools) mediate human action, collaboration and learning. 


Keywords: Higher Education, Action Research, Digital Competencies, Mixed methods research, Technology enhanced learning, Staff development, HEIs , Technology acceptance, Power, Culture, Foucault, Ofsted, Autonetnography, ANG, Autoethnography, Meta-ethnography, eLearning, Networked learning, Reflexivity, eResearch methodology, Online learner and teacher scholarship, Online professional development, e-Learning research, Educational technology, Research designs, e-Learning effectiveness, Methodology, Validity


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