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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2022-2023

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Education

EDUC3391: Digital Society, Theory & Practice

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims to engage students in:
  • The study of different digital and societal issues and their connection with education;
  • Discussions of different theories relevant to understanding the phenomenon of the digital and its connection to education;
  • Sharing ideas and theories relating the digital phenomenon to education in a clear fashion to peers and tutors;
  • Designing curricular activities inclusive of critical understandings of digital technologies;
  • Collaborative learning


  • This module explores the intersection of education and digital technologies in and for a contemporary society. On this module students will explore the role of education in a so-called digital society and how educational institutions shape social practices. The module will be guided by the following questions:
  • * What does the digital society need from education?
  • * What can education give the digital society?
  • * How can education engender a more inclusive society by fostering critical digital practices and literacies?
  • The module will be developed around four core themes. The module themes (and indicative foci of discussion) are:
  • Inside the digital society: the role of education
  • * A historical overview: conceptions and misconceptions of the digital world
  • * Pedagogical traditions and transitions (conservative, progressive and critical/emancipatory)
  • * Key digital cultural principles
  • Digital education and issues of inclusion
  • * Digital divides: technical, skill-based and cultural
  • * Other structures of digital in/exclusion (ethnic, gendered and classed identities/roles)
  • * The support of disability and special needs education online
  • * Digital ethics and digital data
  • * Digital wellbeing: cyberbullying and the search for recognition
  • Curriculum design
  • * Digital literacies
  • * Digital curriculum principles
  • * From content to context: Designing for participation and engagement
  • Educational futures

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
  • Identify and explain the significance of different theoretical concepts relevant to education and digital practices.
  • Develop Knowledge and understanding of critical theories pertinent to the digital phenomenon.
  • Explore key interpretations of digital education as a site of social, cultural, symbolic and political reproduction and transformation
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Critically assess and critique current digital education phenomena with the support of key academic work.
  • Critically engage with concepts and theories encountered in the module.
  • Apply concepts and theories to the analysis of digital educational issues, current issues and debates.
  • Read, analyse and critique seminal theoretical texts.
  • Critically develop interpretations and commentaries on current issues with the support of critical theory
Key Skills:
  • Design curricular activities that apply the principles of digital participatory culture.
  • Read and think critically and independently.
  • Develop critical inquiry.
  • Analyse, synthesise, evaluate, identify and deconstruct issues, norms and practices.
  • Construct and sustain a reasoned argument.
  • Develop study and research skills, information retrieval, and the capacity to plan and manage learning, and to reflect on own learning.
  • Use written and spoken communication skills.
  • Work collaboratively online.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module will be developed in a blended format with some sessions being offered face to face and some sessions being done online so that students can experience first-hand and put into practice the ideas they are studying.
  • Teaching will involve a number of sessions taught via a combination of face to face lectures and live seminars, using traditional classroom teaching as well as online sessions. There will also be digital collaboration spaces. The tutor will present some of the ideas, concepts and debates around each session topic, but above all the sessions will rely on student participation, interaction and critical discussion/contribution. Group and shared work activities and discussion will facilitate a more in-depth student engagement with the themes and issues covered in the module. As such, the responsibility to foster a fruitful and satisfying learning experience is shared between the tutor and the students.
  • In addition to the taught sessions, students are expected to work independently on each module. This ‘out of class’ work can include readings relevant to the next session, preparation for a discussion or presentation, participation in the digital networking activity, providing and receiving peer feedback.
  • The three summative assessments allow students to demonstrate their acquisition of the learning outcomes. Online participation requires a minimum of one contribution /per session to the discussion points proposed, evidenced by engagement in module activities via the digital networking space. The presentation of a curricular activity designed by the students (groups of 2/3), incorporates theories and practices discussed during the sessions. The reflective piece of 2000 words allows students to reflect on their experiences of the online world. Students will be invited to reflect on a particular issue they may have witnessed or experienced (via vicarious or first-hand experience) and take a critical account to the issues at hand via the use of pertinent literature and theories. The formative assessments support these activities.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Interactive Lectures 14 weekly 1.5 hours 21
Seminars 7 fortnightly 1 hour 7
Workshop 1 2 hours 2
Presentations 1 3 hours 3
Reading & Preparation 167
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Participation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Participation Minimum of one contribution per session 100%
Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group Presentation Approx 10 mins per presentation 100%
Component: Reflective Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

1. 1-2-1 session with tutors - students will have a 1-2-1 15 minute session with the tutor to discuss their curricular design activity. Students are expected to submit a one-page outline of the proposal prior to the meeting. 2. Students will be encouraged to engage in reflective practices that link theories to personal experience. This will enacted through seminar discussions, peer conversation and reflective activities. 3. Students will be given guidance on how to participate online, including a reading card to guide critical discussion. The tutor will also have an active participation online, providing guidance and feedback as and when needed.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

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