The Rhetoric of ICT and the New Language of Learning: a critical analysis of the use of ICT in the curricular field


What the resource is:
This academic paper, published in the European Educational Research Journal, is a study of how information and communication technologies (ICT) are perceived in educational settings. It seeks to establish a critical link between the political rhetoric of ICT within the Norwegian education system and what the authors refer to as a new 'language of learning' that ICT can help to facilitate.


The aims of the resource:
The resources aims to:


  • Explore this 'new language of learning' within which the learner is defined as being a consumer, with particular educational needs that must be fulfilled by the teacher;
  • Analyse the rhetorical implications of an emphasis on 'teaching' being replaced by 'learning' that this new language of learning implies through documentary analysis of key Norwegian government papers;
  • Consider the influence of ICT on the production and reception of this new language of learning on the processes of teaching and learning;
  • Provide a range of possible interpretations of the way that this new language of learning is exemplified in the context of ICT as a particular tool used within the Norwegian education context but with wider implications .


Key findings or focus:
The 'new language of learning' in which ICT can inspire or facilitate is based on a rhetorical shift which, the authors assert, has resulted in a change of emphasis from teaching to learning. This shift is a notion that is linked to a number of underlying tendencies in contemporary society. These include post-modern theories of learning, the effects of individualism and, most notably, the heavy marketing and promotion of ICT as a learning tool. Within the main context of the use of ICT within the Norwegian curriculum, the authors assert that ICT has taken a position as a rationalising tool through which teaching can be seen to be made more efficient, and learning can be designed for the individual. Whilst the authors believe that this new ICT-mediated language for learning is clearly traceable in the government papers they have analysed, they are less clear about its possible interpretation and meaning for the future of education (with or without ICT). This is not necessarily a weakness of the paper. Rather, it is clear that this is a problematic area and simplistic solutions are not the way forward. The paper, as a whole, presents a scholarly account of the issues and raises as many questions as it answers. For example, it questions one of the key claims for ICT use was its interactivity when much software had rather limited interactivity, perhaps when compared to a teacher. They go on to begin to map a change in the discourse within education which could be seen reducing the role of the teacher in education. A perennial worry of any worker: when and if they will be 'replaced by a machine'.

This provides a helpful key for further study, in other educational contexts or arenas.

The quality, authority and credibility of the resource in relation to ITE:
The authors of the paper have both worked in Norwegian universities for a number of years. The resource is a scholarly piece of work about the impact and use of ICT in education within their national context, but has a much wider potential influence.


The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact:
The study has quite a narrow focus and, as such, would be particularly interesting for those ITE tutors/mentors with a specific interest in either the development of ICT in education or in policy analysis. Those interested in issues associated with how new educational 'languages' or discourses emerge within educational policy would also find an interesting case study here.


The relevance to ITE students - how and why it has importance:
This study provides an interesting case study of ICT and its impact on processes of teaching and learning at a policy level. It may be a little too divorced from the practical experiences of most ITE students who will be considering more pedagogical elements relating to the use of ICT. However, those students undertaking research studies in related areas as part of their written work for ITE may find this useful.


Reviewed by:

Dr Jonathan Savage



Related Resources
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986) Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Emerson, C. & Holmquist, M. (eds.) (trans. McGee, V. W.) Austin, University of Texas Press.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination: Four essays by M. M. Bakhtin. In Emerson, C. & Holmquist, M. (eds.) (trans. McGee, V. W.) Austin, University of Texas Press.

Biesta, Gert (2004) Against Learning. Reclaiming a Language for Education in an Age of Learning, Nordisk Pedagogik, 24(1), pp. 70-82.

DCSF & Futurelab (2009) Beyond Current Horizons. [last accessed 14/1/10]

Wertsch, J. (1998) Mind as Action. Oxford, OUP. (especially Chapters 2 and 3)


ICT, Teaching, Learning, Document analysis, Rhetoric

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Authors :

Geir Haugsbakk & Yngve Nordkvelle

Source :

Publisher :

European Educational Research Journal

Article Id :


Date Posted: