Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice

Abstract

This paper explores the interface between digital technologies and the teaching labour process in Australian higher education. We develop an adaptation of the seminal Clark (1983, 1994, 2001) and Kozma (1991, 1994) debate about whether technology merely delivers educational content unchanged – technology as the ‘delivery truck’ – or whether education is changed as a result of using different technologies – education as ‘groceries’. Our adaptation is an extension of this metaphor to include the academic teacher as the driver of the grocery truck. With the implementation of new educational technologies, the human resource management aspects of job design, motivation, skilling and work identity are often overlooked, with critical debate about the impact on the teaching labour process seldom considered. In this argument, we will unpack the Clark-Kozma dichotomy of the education/technology interface by looking beyond the embedding of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Australian higher education to examine more broadly the changes to the traditional academic role as the creator, developer and delivery agent of the educational groceries. This has been reinforced by the marketisation of the sector and the concomitant reconfiguration of the traditional teaching process. All this has led to changes in the sense of work identity for academics (McShane, 2006). While we embrace ICT as a potential benefit for both students and academic teachers, we seek to ensure that the ‘truck driver’s’ evolving role is acknowledged in scholarly debates and included in models of learning and teaching if long-term sustainable work practices are to be achieved. One such model is offered.

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