Understanding 'new professionals', academic development and ‘new technologies’ in the changing university: struggles in the field

Alison Hudson

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The term 'new professional' emerged in the late 1990s alongside changing work boundaries in UK higher education. The concept drew attention to the proliferation of job titles which were beginning to be applied to various forms of support for teaching and learning in higher education. At this time many universities were occupied with addressing a ‘change’ climate which included shifting emphasis from teaching to learning, policies to widen participation and widespread use of information and communication technology. Thus, perceptions of the ‘new professionals’ varied substantially; for example, as an ‘emergent new group’ having hybrid roles for the support of teaching and learning (Gornall, 1999, p. 45) or as an university instrument for controlling and servicing the needs of re-formed institutions which had become dominated by economic imperatives, market forces and new forms of management (Beck, 1999). My own career in UK higher education positioned me as a ‘new professional’ working at the intersection between the teacher, researcher, academic developer and learning technologist so I was deeply involved in practice at the intersection of these groupings, bodily, emotionally and intellectually. This paper draws on a thesis which investigates the social and cultural forces that have shaped what are becoming increasingly recognised as new professional fields in UK higher education. In particular it explores the background and struggles of two specific groupings of new professionals; ‘academic developers’ and ‘learning technologists’. The terms academic developer and learning technologist, along with other terms, for example, educational developer, and educational technologist, instructional designer, IT pedagog are frequently seen in discourses of the area studied. Equivalent exemplars and variations can be found throughout Europe and in other international settings. Whilst there has been a lot of interest in the use of information and communication technologies, academic development and indeed, university reform, the practices and the working relationships between academic developers and learning technologists and the socio-political conditions which shape their practices are largely unexplored. What is under investigation is the social and cultural context, relationships, principles, characteristics and practices that govern the two groups of new professionals, rather than explicit focus on individuals within the groups as objects of research. The paper discusses the development of the theoretical framework and the empirical base of the study as one approach taken to exploring fields and sub-fields as social arenas in which capital is accumulated and where struggles over position and agency take place
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventThe European Conference on Educational Research 2009 - Vienna, Austria
    Duration: 28 Sept 200930 Sept 2009


    ConferenceThe European Conference on Educational Research 2009
    Abbreviated titleECER 2009
    OtherTheory and Evidence in European Educational Research
    Internet address


    • Academic staff
    • Staff development
    • Information technology


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