Imitation of life(stream) – Week 11 summary

The content in my lifestream this week feels disordered and unquantifiable, It’s kind of all over the place. I’ve written about a couple of current political events, about a genuine David of a technological problem which led to a Goliath unsettlement, about statistics and TV. I’ve written about what I’m reading, reactions to and rants about the stuff I’m encountering, and some of the more tangential things I’m considering as I plan to get the lifestream ready for submission.

One of the things I’ve read this week is Bayne’s chapter on research and posthumanism in the SAGE Handbook of E-learningShe provides a couple of examples of how research methods are used to privilege order over difference:

This desire to stabilise essence is an attempt to produce order and regularity in the guise of categories that erase difference and privilege identity among seemingly similar things (Jackson, 2013, p. 742; in Bayne, 2016, p. 89)

In my lifestream summaries over the course I’ve attempted, sometimes artificially and sometimes not, and sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to unify content. I’ve tried to gather ideas, to identify themes which resonate in a variety of posts. Privileging order over difference. This week, I think I’ll privilege difference instead. Perhaps the lifestream’s uncategorised, uncatalogued messiness and diversity can function as an anti-theme. Or, given what I’ve read this week, a post-theme.

I can’t resist a chance to theorise, though. The lifestream, in its happy medley of heterogeneity, has been untethered, much like we have. We have been released from a weekly cycle; it’s as though we’ve been swimming lengths for ten weeks and now the lanes have been abandoned. I’m floating along, unshackled but still bounded – still with the edge of the pool or the fixed deadline in sight. So maybe the lifestream this week represents me: bobbing along, treading water, flailing occasionally, but definitely waving, not drowning.

a person in a swimming pool, underwater, racing


Bayne, S. (2016). Posthumanism and Research in Digital Education. In C. Haythornthwaite, R. Andrews, J. Fransman, & E. Meyers, The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research (pp. 82–99). 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Jackson, A. Y. (2013). Posthumanist data analysis of mangling practices. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26(6), 741–748.

What I’m reading

Bayne, S. (2015). What’s the matter with technology-enhanced learning? Learning, Media and Technology, 40(1), 5:20.

In this article, Bayne argues convincingly in favour of subjecting the term ‘technology-enhanced learning’ to a far more rigorous critique. This, she contends, would fruitfully draw on critical posthumanism, considerations of the boundaries of ‘the human’, and the inescapable politics of education, how we perceive of education’s function and purpose. In a deliciously meta move, she conducts such a critique, and concludes that – among other things – she was right to do so.

I was struck by the nuanced way in which Bayne describes the enmeshment of the term ‘TEL’, and the reality (if we can call it that) to which it shorthandedly refers. I liked how she used her critique of the term to inform and illuminate her critique of what it reflects, how it is used, and the political, social, educational situation which gave rise to it.

Bayne argues that technology and education are:

co-constitutive of each other, entangled in cultural, material, political and economic assemblages of great complexity

The term TEL, and what it implies, are flawed, because it doesn’t take account of this complexity. But what’s the alternative? It’d be a hard case to push to a VC that their new spangly TEL department should be renamed the ‘Department of Co-Constituitive Assemblages of Technology and Education’. DECATE for short. But I don’t think this is really what Bayne is getting at.

Instead, I think the real message underlying Bayne’s argument is contra shorthandedness in general – the lazy binary of technological determinism vs technological instrumentalism, and the assumptions that we might make about education and technology and the relationship between the two. Bayne’s rallying call, ultimately, is for a heck of a lot of critical thinking.


January 28, 2017 at 01:57PM
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