Rethinking the relationship between learner, learning contexts, and technology: a critique and exploration of Archer's morphogenetic approach

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The contextualized nature of learning with technology is widely acknowledged in research, but there remains a lack of sound social theorization to conceptualize and understand this contextualization. Giddens' structuration theory has been proposed as an appropriate tool for analysing and understanding human interactions with technologies. Drawing on Archer's critique of structuration theory, this paper critically analyses some of its recent uses in relation to e-learning and discusses their explanatory limitations. As an alternative, the paper proposes the use of Archer's morphogenetic approach and illustrates how it overcomes some of the major analytical weaknesses of structuration theory by enabling engagement with the powers of both structure and human agency without conflating them in a process of ‘mutual constitution’. It suggests that Archer's approach provides central analytical and explanatory significance to the multiple specific social contexts within which any e-learning course exists and the specific social interactions that take place amongst those engaged in it. Although based in e-learning for illustrative purposes, the conclusions drawn from comparison between structuration and morphogenetic approaches have application in the enhanced understanding and theorization of learning situations more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-520
Number of pages20
JournalLearning, Media and Technology
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Archer
  • education technology
  • morphogenetic approach
  • social theory
  • structuration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Media Technology

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