Technology in the Pandemic: Rupturing the Aura of Higher Education


  • Mr. Graham Lean Ontario Tech University
  • Wendy Barber Ontario Tech University



technology, higher education, critical theory, reflective inquiry


Framed by Benjamin’s (2008) concepts of aura, technological reproduction, and miniaturization, this paper argues that technology provides students with greater opportunities to take control of their learning in ways that were not possible when education took place largely on-campus, in the higher education classroom. Post pandemic, digital technology has influenced, and will further impact, the way in which we teach and communicate with our students. Educators emerging from pandemic pedagogies need a deeper understanding, and more judicious and effective use of technologies for learning. By understanding and using technology in these ways, educators can help students become more empowered, collaborative, and critically reflective. A lack of readiness for emergency online learning has been replaced with a sense of acceptance that educators  must incorporate digital tools into their practice for both educational and communicative purposes. This means that our intellectual and social attachment to the physical classroom as a place for learning and communicating is not as strong as before. Far from being a eulogy for the physical classroom, this paper aims to interrogate the proliferation of technology, and the broad implications for higher education. It argues that the use of technology may help diminish the historical power and aura of higher education and intellectual pursuits, thus undermining the traditional overt and covert control of the institution as an ideological state apparatus. Nevertheless, this shifting educational landscape brings new challenges and questions about the historical aura of higher education, and the concomitant evolution of teacher student relationships and power structures through technology implementation. While maintaining optimism about educational technology, this paper urges educators to consider the broader context of our educational settings, and argues for prioritising critical engagement with technology that aims to utilise its potential for collaboration, empowerment and critically reflective inquiry.

Author Biography

Mr. Graham Lean, Ontario Tech University

Graham Lean is an Associate Researcher at the Education Informatics Lab , Faculty of Education, Ontario Tech University. He holds a BA in Sociology from Newcastle University and is pursuing a Master of Education at Ontario Tech University. His areas of interest include critical pedagogies for online learning, democratizing online learning, student agency and digital technology, metacognition, and authentic assessment.