What’s in a name

The ambiguity and complexity of technology enhanced learning roles


  • Kate Mitchell
  • Colin Simpson
  • Chie Adachi




technology enhanced learning roles, academic/professional divide, third space


With the growing ubiquity of educational technology, there has been an increased need for specialised practitioners to advise on and support technology enhanced learning within Higher Education. Academic developers, instructional designers and educational technologists are all examples of these skilled individuals typically working in ‘third space’ that crosses complex boundaries - between the pedagogical and technological, and the academic and professional. However, role titles and descriptions of duties are often unclear at best, with a lack of consistent terminology used across institutions and in the literature. This can lead to confusion and tensions when working with multiple institutional stakeholders who are uncertain about the abilities and knowledge of people in these roles; potentially exacerbating ‘the academic/professional divide’ in Higher Education and weakening the collaborative relationship between TEL workers and academics. This paper presents a synthesis of key literature related to contemporary TEL advisor and support roles in Higher Education alongside a preliminary analysis of 37 recent position descriptions of these roles. The application of social practice theory as our conceptual framework enables us to further explore the significance of practices in defining and differentiating these roles. This paper offers a step forward to the ways in which clarity and consistency of these roles might be sought. Future implications of this study are included for further consideration.






ASCILITE Conference - Concise Papers