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2 Technology or pedagogy?

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Figure 3 Using technology can enable learning.

Despite the advantages of online learning identified in the previous section, there is often a tension between technology and pedagogy in online teaching. Some people view the technology simply as a delivery system and focus on the pedagogy. Others prefer to make use of the possibilities offered by technology and wait for the theory to catch up.

It is probably more useful to think of the two as being involved in a dialogue. Technology opens up new possibilities and it can be used in ways that its designers never intended. This drives new ways of approaching teaching and learning which feed back into technology development, and the cycle continues. This view of technology, and particularly how it relates to education, is addressed by Weller (2011) in Chapter 1 of The Digital Scholar [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

This tension between the roles of technology and pedagogy is apparent throughout the educational system, but it is particularly acute when it comes to online education. Many of the topics covered by this course would not be possible without internet technology. However, it is also important to consider the roles of learners and educators and what they bring to each online education context.