IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE academic awarded Major Research Fellowship

3 December 2020

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) academic Professor Lesley Gourlay has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for her work on the role of digital technologies in universities today.

Lesley Gourlay

Professor Gourlay’s research career has focused on the relationships between technologies, artefacts and meaning-making, with a particular focus on the digital.

Digital technologies play an increasingly central role in universities, and the benefits and potentials of these technologies are well-recognised. However, in the age of 'big data', algorithms increasingly govern the way universities work, with technologies such as 'learning analytics' becoming increasingly prevalent.

The project will analyse the effects of the increased use of digital technology, the role and value of data, and technologies of surveillance and audit in higher education. It will investigate how this influences student engagement, academic work, texts, and how knowledge itself is created.

Professor Gourlay said: “Combining insights from science and technology studies, posthuman theory, new materialism, and linguistic ethnography, I will write a monograph critically interrogating the claims made for these technologies in higher education, taking into account the ethical, political, pedagogic, epistemological, and ontological implications of the rise of the ‘algocracy’ in higher education and beyond. This research is of particular importance at this time, when the sector is rushing to an increase in digitisation, which carries risks, in addition to possible advantages.”

Leverhulme Major Research Fellowships are for well-established, distinguished researchers in the humanities and social sciences to complete a piece of original research. Professor Gourlay’s Fellowship will commence on 1 September 2021.