The authors discuss the increasingly technologised teaching and learning environment of higher education. While the imperative to use communication technologies to increase learner access is laudable, the question of 'access to what' needs to be addressed in all its complexity. The authors bring fresh pedagogical understandings to inform thinking about the design of teaching and learning environments. Their work illustrates the value of theoretically informed perspectives in researching the use of new technologies. They draw on several research projects in raising important questions about the changing nature of teaching and learning, and the potential of new communication technologies both to counter and to produce marginalisation. The argument is that all decisions about the appropriateness of particular pedagogical practices must engage with such possibilities.