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Invisible success: Problems with the grand technological innovation in higher education

Computers & Education Volume 59, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This paper investigates a ‘grand’ educational technology innovation through theoretical lenses inspired by Cervero and Wilson’s (1994, 1998) work. Through taking this approach it is possible to show how ideas about the form of the innovation and perceptions of its ultimate ‘success’ or ‘failure’, varied between stakeholder groups. The project was pedagogically effective and popular with students, but was difficult to ‘sell’ to academics, had no senior management sponsor, and was unable to bring about cultural change in the institution despite the capital funding designed to do just that. Although many pedagogical lessons were learned, and have since been applied in other learning spaces around the host campus and elsewhere, these successful disseminations of changed practice were not in accordance with the objectives of key stakeholders. Therefore, they went unconsidered when decisions were taken about the project’s sustainability: hence the notion of ‘invisible success’. The project’s ‘failure’ is only apparent when viewed from certain perspectives; nevertheless, these perspectives are those of the powerful (or in Bourdieu’s (1986, 1988) terms, those possessing capital and academic power) and are the consequence of deeply-rooted structural features in HE, which include funding models, risk-averseness, and fragmented responsibilities.


Whitworth, A. (2012). Invisible success: Problems with the grand technological innovation in higher education. Computers & Education, 59(1), 145-155. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved February 5, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 31, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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