The future of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) is in the hands of the anonymous, grey non-descript mid-level professional manager.

Tony Murphy


Much of the research into the implementation of TEL has centred on teaching approaches and the change (or not) in the role of the academic, which is reflective of the importance of the academic to what takes place in a Higher Education Institute (HEI).  Technology enhanced learning (TEL), however, poses a considerable challenge to how the Higher Education (HE) sector operates, as it has done with numerous other sectors.  Typically, technology confronts existing practices and boundaries.  For HEIs, TEL has accelerated the move away from the discipline-based academics as being at the centre of the education process and replaced them with students.  This displacement of the academic for the student has been complemented by changing approaches to teaching, (the growth of network learning for example) and the introduction of new work practices from the private sector in the guise of new managerialism. With the academic’s role reduced from controller to that of participant, the space left is being filled by client-focused mid-level professional managers.  Distinct from academic managers, mid-level professional managers are situated between academics and senior management, which is a key position for the implementation of TEL at a time when its future rests on bridging the gap between the bottom up initiatives of the past and the institute-wide initiatives of the future.  This discussion piece reflects on the changing role of the academic in a new managerialist TEL HE sector and argues for the overdue recognition of the importance of the mid-level professional manager to the future of TEL.  

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