EDC MOOC Week One reflection

For week one of #edcmooc, I participated in our study group to watch the videos together and read two of the proposed readings (Hand and Sandywell and Chandler). I found the E-topia article to be engaging but it was so dense in academic speechifying that I almost gave up on it. I used to read articles like this all the time for my degree in anthropology (especially in studying identity theory and transnational communities) but I’ve grown soft over the years. I kept thinking about the ivory tower concept of education when reading through this article–that there are good examples, theories, and ideas in the article but they’re almost inaccessible because of the academic jargon used. Access and inaccessibility (to knowledge, the Internet, content, etc.) are certainly issues relating to dystopian or utopian views of technology and how people interact with it or use it and this article itself could be part of that discussion.

For now, the biggest takeaway for me from Hand and Sandywell is the need for individuals and communities to be reflexive about our own experiences. This specifically applies to technology in education. Why is Coursera so popular now? Numbers of reach. Is it real reach? What do we hope to get out of this? I’d like to consider myself on the optimistic side of sharing knowledge, but packaging counts. So does thinking. This quote really spoke to me:

“Adorno’s conception of the administered society and Foucault’s panopticon have been given digital wings, where societal regulation is seen as operating through the capillaries of information exchange. We shift from industrial to post-industrial forms of regulation. Where the original panopticon secured compliant bodies for the industrial process, the cybernetic panopticon of digital capitalism produces docile minds locked into their screens (Davies, 1996; Schiller, 1999).” (p. 204)

And in reflection, we must recognize that we don’t live in a dualistic world where everything is this or that. I really love this pithy little quote and its imagery of constellations:

“Subjectivity and objectivity are dialectical moments of more mediated constellations.” (p. 209)

It’s easy, even when viewing the videos to fall into this “good” or “bad” viewing, especially when we are asked to think about the poles during week one’s exercises. Many folks in our study group liked Inbox. Probably because it was more light hearted, maybe because it was more familiar, possibly because it was the least dystopian view of technology in the video sets. Personally I liked Thursday and the question of agency it posed. Technology in this is not quite presented as good or bad, but as seamlessly integrated into people’s and animals’ lives. The birds, however, use technology as tools, whereas people seem to be absorbed by them.

Handy and Sandywell remind us that the Internet is not monolithic and cannot be used in any singular way. We must not think of culture as fixed either:

“Instead of thinking of ‘culture’ as a fixed code, system of meaning or received ‘tradition’, we then conceptualize social life as a heterogeneous field of world-making practices creating diverse realms of the ‘social imaginary’ (see Bakhtin, 1986; Bourdieu, 1991;Castoriadis, 1987).” (p. 213-214)

In considering these perspectives when engaging in education, we must consider how we, as educators, learners, practitioners or whomever want to construct the learning environment. What tools do we want to use to construct this environment? Let’s not always rely on industry trends but instead look to our community of users and their needs/interests, getting at the ‘why’ before the ‘how’.

Videos: 

Bendito Machine III (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiXOigfDb0U)

Inbox (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75wNgCo-BQM)

Thursday (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ1z0Zzqg5U&feature=youtu.be)

New Media (http://vimeo.com/33193443#at=1)

Readings: 

Hand, M. and B. Sandywell. 2002. E-topia as cosmopolis or citadel: On the democratizing and de-democratizing logics of the internet, or, toward a critique of the new technological fetishism. Theory, Culture & Society 19, no. 1-2: 197-225. (p.205-6) (Accessed: http://www.observatoriodeseguranca.org/files/etopia.pdf)

Chandler, D. 2002. Technological determinism. Web essay, Media and Communications Studies, University of Aberystwyth. (Accessed: https://spark-public.s3.amazonaws.com/edc/readings/chandler2002_PDF_full.pdf)

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