Practice Example: Inquiry into Contemporary Issues in Learning Technologies

Chapter image for Practice Example: Inquiry into Contemporary Issues in Learning Technologies.
Authored by

Irwin DeVries

The following activity was introduced as the second in a series, and used in an Inquiry into Contemporary Issues in Learning Technologies course to continue to pilot the Rethink Learning resource model. Mirroring it’s companion in a previous course, it uses a learning design that focuses on choice and prompts learners to use the perspective framework to respond, reframe or rethink about critical issues related to learning technologies. Students were encouraged to revisit their posts from the previous activity and to make connections to others ideas and reflections.

Background and Blog Posts

Critical inquiry can be applied to all areas of study and research. To practice and extend your skills, this exercise puts you in the position of author and producer of content for a new iteration of an emerging open textbook. You are in a position to develop your own content in extending or reframing either (a) content that other students have contributed earlier or (b) other new content that you are also free to choose from the options listed below. In each of the options from which to choose, including something you find on your own, there are aspects of critical inquiry that you can apply to or from a new setting.

1. Peer writings

Select a contribution by a student from a previous class in the program as published in Managing Change in Digital Learning. You’ll find them in the “Perspectives Framework” section displaying Issues, Role Perspectives, Lenses, and Settings, on the main page. Make sure you credit the author, and include a link to their contribution page when you write your contribution.

2. Excerpt

Indigenization Guide: Indigenous Epistemologies and Pedagogies, in Pulling Together: A Guide for Curriculum Developers, a BCcampus guide. How might you envision placing this brief discussion of concepts such as relationality, sacred and secular, holism, and indigneous pedagogies such as personal and holistic, experiential, place-based and intergenerational, within a frame that speaks to your own issues of interest, roles, lenses or settings? How can you model these concepts as you imagine possible ways to flesh them out in your own practice? As you think about this excerpt you may also explore a variety of the resources to which it links.

3. Critical questions

Critical questions for big data in education, a blog post by Ben Williamson at the University of Edinburgh, touches on a number of significant questions and issues in how data is being envisioned for use in education. How any or all of the points potentially relate to other frames or perspectives? How do they connect to students, teachers, administrators, technologists, and/or others? How might the issues they touch upon affect the fundamental issues of our institutions of learning (whether public, private or other)? Alternatively, use the same approach with his blog post “The evolution of the global education industry during the pandemic.”

4. Rethinking the context of edtech

In this article, Tressie McMillan Cottom writes, “Edtech is not a set of tools; rather, it is a set of practices that further a greater good. Our educational mission is not just to keep students enrolled or even to graduate students. Our larger mutual goal should be to use edtech to address inequalities and truly improve learning outcomes in order to produce the most equitable educational processes that will enable our students to leave our institutions with better economic, social, and cultural opportunities than they had when they arrived.” How might you see this idea extended into different settings and contexts?

Reflect, Respond, Reframe


Read one of the posts provided or find another post or example from your own Read one of the posts provided or find another post or example from your own professional context to consider. Identify some of the main topics that the author addresses (see the list below for some highlights). Be sure to link to the resource and credit the creators.


Now consider one or more of the main topics that were raised in the post and consider how you might extend or reframe it from a different perspective. We have provided a “perspective framework” that outlines four different elements: Issues, settings, lenses, and role perspectives that might help you identify an alternative view.


Choose one or more of the different elements and use those to help shift your thinking or approach your change from a different angle. Create a short post on this page, by choosing one of the main elements, that will then form part of this new iteration of an emerging open textbook. You may use media other than text, such as audio, video, or others.

There are four buttons at the bottom of this page that aligns with the four elements in the framework; choose the one that best matches the main angle of your post. Your post should be 250-400 words or equivalent using other media. Once you posted, view a few others and comment, ask/questions and probe further. Your responses will be collected at the bottom of this page. Remember to add your name to your contribution.

The graphic below depicts some of the ways the different perspectives can be opened up for exploration in your writing.

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Issues – Reflection and Indigenous Knowledge

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Differences within a shared context: roles, goals, values, and tools

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Learning Technologist – focusing on learning

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Big Data Collection in Education From a Students Perspective

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Democratic Implications of the Privatization of Education

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Avoiding Pan-Indigeneity while Indigenizing Education

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EdTech in Corporate Learning Settings

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Textbooks, scholarly literature, and even current events reflected in venues ranging from social media to journalism, all present a continuous roll of issues that have topical relevance in a course setting. To use this lens dentify one or more issues that are relevant to the topic in this chapter. Issues can range very widely, from ongoing debates about privacy to public health to emerging stories about climate events.

Role Perspectives

Different roles can have an impact on interests and perspectives. For example, being a student is in itself a role – including domestic, international, full time or part time, newly matriculated or mid-career professional, along with such other possible roles as parent, administrator, educator or other areas within life outside of the educational milieu.


You may choose or be assigned to research the chapter topic from a particular lens, such as decolonization, historical justice, anti-racism, and other such anti-oppressive perspectives that centre on alternative narratives to those that present in dominant cultures. By working with a specific lens, you can research issues from a social justice perspective. In addition, the use of lenses can also encourage a focus on transdisciplinary approaches.


Many learning experiences in higher education include various forms of experiential learning intended to integrate workplace or community-based learning with formal education. Focusing on a specific setting can help focus the learning on specific settings. You may come to your studies from, or with ambitions toward, a particular industry or workplace, community setting, within education or a profession, corporate or public sector, or any of many possible disciplines. For instance, learning design in higher education is often quite different from the corporate world or within government. These settings may have an influence on the perspectives you bring and/or would like to bring to your research and course work.

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