MA Digital Technologies, Communication and Education

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Educational Technology and Communication

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC70141
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Educational Technology and Communication (hereafter ETC) is a core unit for the MA: Digital Technologies, Communication and Education (DTCE) and is fundamental to it. It is the unit in which key theoretical and practical concepts are explored and then applied by the students, in a self-reflective way, to their own current and future work with the design of learning environments. Students are directed throughout towards the evaluation of a portfolio of work accumulated either through their activity on other DTCE course units, or their professional activity. The fundamental principle of the ETC unit is reflective practice, and its application to the evaluation of educational technologies and, more broadly, educational texts and utterances. Students are expected to explore the more generic principles and frameworks for analysing educational environments within specific, personally-relevant contexts.

There are several ways in which students can apply the general principles they are investigating, including assessed discussion activities with their peers and a field trip to a museum (either in Manchester or their own locality).


Develop in learners who complete it a personal framework for the study and use of digital technologies and communications techniques in a broad range of educational settings. The framework will be based on reflective practice, evaluation and techniques to help students develop knowledge of their own specific context.

It also aims to induct students into the learning community of the MA: DTCE and, particularly, to make connections between new on-campus and new distance learners.



Content of the unit includes the following:

+ Historical development of educational technology, starting with the book and then investigating developments in ICT from the 1940s to the present day;

+ Reflective practice and the professional development of teachers, educators and learning designers;

+ Pedagogical techniques and methodologies for the design and evaluation of learning environments including instructional design, participatory design, connectivism, learner-generated contexts;

+ Digital divides, appropriate and assistive technology;

+ The social shaping of technology, political and organisational issues arising from ICT and educational technology

Teaching and learning methods

On-campus students: 36 hours on-campus classes (17 x 2 hour sessions, each comprising lecture elements and interactive workshop elements in varying proportion, then also the final 2-hour ‘poster day’ session that concludes the second assessed discussion activity) + 4 x 1 hour tutorials = 40 hours teaching.

Distance learners: 8 hours synchronous online sessions + 32 hours engaging with podcasts, web pages and self-guided activities = 40 hours teaching All students: 3 asynchronous collaboration/discussion activities (2 assessed, one unassessed but with formative feedback) @ 20 hours each = 60 hours. Written assignment prep = 75 hours + 5 hours for field trip = 80 hours Additional private study time, reading papers, reflection, etc.: 10 hours/week for 12 teaching weeks = 120 hours


Knowledge and understanding

...define significant frameworks for the analysis and evaluation of educational technology, particularly including:

+ Laurillard’s Conversational Framework;

+ Wenger et al’s ‘digital habitats’

+ Luckin’s Ecology of Resources model;

+ and models influenced by the Social Shaping of Technology thesis.

restate the history of educational technology and how it has been shaped by a range of forces operating at personal, organisational and structural levels.

Intellectual skills

Evaluate the impact of educational technologies and, more broadly, educational texts and utterances, on their own practice and that of others, by applying one or more of the frameworks mentioned above.

Engage in discussion and analysis of relevant academic literature

Practical skills

Take decisions as part of a team and arrange an appropriate division of labour.

Communicate ideas through posts in online fora and a poster presentation.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will develop the following transferrable skills and personal qualities:

  • actively engage with reflective practice and demonstrate its fundamental importance for the professional practice of educators and learning technologists
  • organise their work effectively.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%
Portfolio 25%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%

Feedback methods


Recommended reading

Laurillard, D. (2002) Rethinking University Teaching, Routledge, London

Laurillard, D. (2012) Teaching as a Design Science, Routledge, London.

Luckin, R. (2010) Redesigning Learning Contexts, Sage, London.

Veletsianos, G. (Ed.). (2010). Emerging technologies in distance education. Athabasca University Press, Edmonton.

Benson, A. and A. Whitworth (eds). (2014) Research into Course Management Systems in Higher Education. IAP, Charlotte.

For Information and advice on Link2Lists reading list software, see:

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 60
Fieldwork 3
Lectures 45
Practical classes & workshops 45
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Whitworth Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Distance learners teaching and learning process is as follows: 6 hours synchronous online sessions + 3 hour field trip + 40 hours engaging with podcasts, web pages and self-guided activities = 49 hours teaching  


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