Week 3 2014

The pdf's for the readings are available on the L@G site

Weston, Jay. (1997). Old Freedoms and New Technologies: The Evolution of Community Networking. The Information Society, 13(2), 195-201.
Pireddu, Mario. (2011). Education as a dying and outdated system (?). In M. Ciastellardi, Cristina Miranda de Almeida & C. A. Scolari (Eds.), McLuhan Galaxy Conference. Understanding Media Today (pp. 154-168). Barcelona: Editorial Universidad Oberta de Catalunya. Retrieved from http://www.digitalrumors.net/mcluhangalaxybcn11/extended/McLuhanGalaxyConference_book.pdf.
Savage, Mike, Ruppert, Evelyn, & Law, John. (2010). Digital Devices: nine theses. CRESC Working Paper Series, (86). Retrieved from http://www.cresc.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Paper%20No%2086_0.pdf

By now you should have some sense of the history of computer use for educational purposes. What I want to suggest is that there are three rough, broad, mindsets that are useful ways to think about the way different folk talk about these issues.

Perhaps the most familiar is the view that all schools/educational organisations need to do is keep on adding technologies as they make judgements about their educational value. Here the concern is with integration, with what some have called domestication1. Change is typically spoken about in terms of Rogers' notion of diffusion of innovation and most of the research questions are questions about "how", how to best use a piece of software to teach something etc. This is a business as usual approach. It is the dominant approach to thinking about the use of these technologies in formal education settings.

The second mindset, more or less following the argument of Weston (1996) points to the likely collapse of a system that is based upon 'a broadcast logic', a child of Gutenberg and the industrial revolution. The proponents of this view point to the current difficulties of the music and newspaper industries. These is a strong view that schools can't be improved. Perelman2 argued that putting computers into classrooms is akin to putting an internal combustion engine in a horse. This mindset resonates with the deschooling movement of the 60's and 70's. The Pireddu (2011) paper probably falls within this mindset.

There is a third mindset that, to quote from the chapter3 mentioned above,

There is a third mindset which, broadly speaking, is where the focus of this book lies. It is a view that is neither naïve nor nihilistic; a view which is acutely aware of the changed and changing circumstances of the world as a raft of various technologies are deployed across most aspects of human existence. This view argues that given the real challenges that those currently in school will face, that there is a real warrant for thinking about doing school differently. It is a mindset that is not seeking to replace the existing single solution with another but rather to encourage a proliferation of thinking about and doing school differently.

It is a mindset which recognizes that focusing on change but not measurement, on the social, and not simply the technical, allows us to identify the ways technologies may help disrupt traditional relationships: between schools and knowledge; knowledge and children; children and teachers; learners and communities. This mindset acknowledges that many wonderful innovations in schools and technologies are tenuous. Indeed, the fragility of ICT-based change in classrooms and schools is found over and over again in the literature4. But even this fragility is not necessarily a cause for despair: for still it points to the possibilities of change—the scope for modest ambition—and the value of continuing to look for the small scale disruptions that can occur.

Neil Selwyn offers a similar but slightly different model. He suggests the following:
• Virtual schoolers - use digital technology to represent structures and processes of
school
• Re-schoolers - use digital tech to reconstitute the structures and processes of school
• De-schoolers - replace structures and processes of school altogether

Given all of this, it is reasonable to wonder what does one do next? The paper by Savage et al. (2010) provides an interesting argument. While it is written broadly for the social sciences there are a good number of ideas than could inform your thinking about digital culture, games and education.

I have included in here a useful blog post by Audrey Watters, one of the more interesting thinkers about educational technologies in the blogosphere. It's worth a quick skim. You'll find a link to a post of Larry Cuban's5 which is also useful in terms of developing your own sense of this space. At the end of her post she includes a Vimeo of a talk Bret Victor6 gave recently. It's a clever talk and will help you fill in something of the history of things digital.

And recently there has been a lot of philanthropic interest7 in developing computer-supported networks/arrangements outside of school, as if to acknowledge that that game can't do much more than what is happening at present, which you could argue is not much more than was happening 30 years ago.