What is interdisciplinarity?

The impact of the Internet on working practices and the way we share information and communicate has been profound. Recent web technologies have lead to a similar seismic shift in how people communicate, collaborate and network.

This leads to new challenges for the delivery of education across technological platforms in their many guises – Technology Enhanced Learning, Networked Learning, e-Learning, Learning Technology, and Virtual Learning Environments.

Consequently there has also been a growth in research into the use of technology in education to meet these challenges, and this has drawn together research teams from many disciplines including educationalists, computer scientists, psychologists, information scientists, educational technologists, as well as subject matter experts.

In parallel, there has been increasing prominence given to interdisciplinarity as a means of addressing cross-discipline research challenges, where researchers from two or more disciplines bring their approaches and adapt them to form a solution to a new problem.

Where does TEL come in?

The aim of this TEL strand is to study the nature of interdisciplinarity for Technology Enhanced Learning research, i.e. what can working in an interdisciplinary manner bring to multi-discipline research teams to help them address challenges that are too broad or too complex to be solved by a single discipline?

Interdisciplinarity happens all the time in education and this is evidenced by the development of roles such as educational technologists and learning and teaching technologists.

The team are exploring if there is anything specific about interdisciplinarity in a Technology Enhanced Learning research context, and explore strategies for how to support, communicate and document it.

The TEL Interdisciplinarity strand is led by Professors Gráinne Connole and Eileen Scanlon of the Open University

Activities include:

  • conducting a literature review of interdisciplinarity in general, and more specifically research into Technology Enhanced Learning
  • exploring what disciplines contribute to research into Technology Enhanced Learning
  • identifying the main research challenges for interdisciplinary teams


The social networking site Cloudworks for fostering sharing and discussions of learning and teaching ideas will be used to provide an on-going repository and discussion space for the work.


Research Briefing on Interdisciplinarity

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