Original Research

Embodied digital technology and transformation in higher education

Jean du Toit, Anné H. Verhoef
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 3 | a52 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v3i0.52 | © 2018 Jean du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 July 2018 | Published: 23 October 2018

About the author(s)

Jean du Toit, School of Philosophy, North-West University, South Africa, South Africa
Anné H. Verhoef, School of Philosophy, North-West University, South Africa, South Africa

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Background: The use of digital technology in higher education is overwhelmingly positively assessed in most recent research literature. While some literature indicates certain challenges in this regard, in general, the emphasis is on an encouragement and promotion of digital technology in higher education. While we recognised the positive potential of the use of digital technology in higher education, we were cautious of an instrumentalist and disembodied understanding of (digital) technology and its potential impact on higher education – as a sector of education and as a body of students.

Aim: To re-conceptualise the way in which technology is understood for its use in the higher education sector, as is argued, would be of benefit for transformation in higher education.

Setting: South African Higher Education sector.

Methods: Phenomenology of embodiment.

Results: An embodied understanding of technology through the embodied phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty and an explication of its potential for transformation in higher education via the working concept of the Embodied Screen leads to a full understanding of the student as embodied and socially-embedded individual.

Conclusion: A more holistic and embodied understanding of digital technology serves to supplement transformation in higher education, especially if transformation is itself understood in concrete social and bodily terms as is the case in the South African context.


digital technology; technology; embodiment; higher education; transformation; merleau-Ponty; phenomenology


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