Photocopy of the contents page of a book in my possession, Hypertext, State of the Art (a set of conference proceedings from 1989) which illustrates the pace of change in my adult lifetime of the “information highway” and its potential for “learning”.
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The latest edition of TES is crammed with features involving techology in some way. This isn’t surprising since the digital is now implicit and entwined in so much of our lives. As Bill Thompson remarked in this podcast, he is wary of institutions that need to develop their ‘digital’ strategy – there should be no need to prepend strategy with digital.
In the TES this week there are articles on data protection and security, giant Ed-tech companies and their mission to convince education of the indispensable nature of their software, an app to measure pupils’ resilience and a report on Ed Scheninger, luddite turned ed-tech proselyte.
So interesting to read these articles in the light of Bayne’s paper, What’s the matter with TEL? and thoughts about the work of Audrey Watters.
An app named Lengo, devised to encourage and measure students’ soft skills is described as being able to “instil appropriate behaviour in students”. Is this desirable? Who chooses what constitutes a “desired skill or character trait”? Who deems what is appropriate behaviour? Can this really be measured and what happens to the data and the “meaningful feedback”? This seems to be technology leading quasi-education, another company contributing to the commercialisation of education involving questionable surveillance of students.
Ed Scheninger’s perspective on technology for education is in marked contrast to Bayne’s plea for educationalists to become “critical protagonists in wider debates on the new forms of education, subjectivity, society and culture worked-through by contemporary technological change” (p.18). Whilst he acknowledges that it wasn’t just the technology that had wrought great changes in his institution, technology is still regarded in an instrumentalist and essentialist light in his account:
“We made sure that if technology is not going to improve a lesson or learner outcomes, then we don’t use it.”
This seems to me to exemplify what Bayne means by “the ontological isolation of the human from its material contexts” (p.18).