The last chapter in Module 2 deals with ‘education informatics‘ which considers the interaction between information science, digital technologies and ‘the relationship between who we teach (learners), what we teach (curriculum/instruction), what we teach with (instructional resources), how well students are learning (assessment) and who is teaching (staff)’ (reference: Mardis, 2014 in course notes).
Information is situated in a social context. The concept of ‘digital stewardship’ is also part of digital scholarship, which is managing and using information including Content curation. This involves evaluating and selecting data for our libraries and school communities, e.g. using curation tools like Libguides. It also extends to social media and our social networking which provides additional avenues for information flow.
Selwyn notes that technology is developing so rapidly, that we barely have time to keep up (p.65) and admonishes that there is a definite need “to take stock of who we are, what is we do, and how and why we do it” (p.65). What is required, is closer attention to “how digital technologies are being used … in ‘real-world’ educational settings” (p.66).
Of interest, is the wider “social, political, economic, cultural and historical contexts with which educational technology use (and non-use) is located” (p. 66). Indeed, to look beyond learning to “‘context-rich’ accounts of the often compromised and constrained social realities of technology use ‘on the ground” (p.66). As Chantal Hochstrasser, one of my Masters’ colleagues commented during our first informal online conversation (Skype: 6/8/2016), there is a discrepancy between digital scholarship in education and the practice – what is happening in our schools. It is this exact situation that Selwyn makes the case “for placing more emphasis on understanding the often uneven, contested and contradictory realities of technology use within educational settings” (2010, p.67).
This also connects with our second Colloquium conversation with Pip Cleaves which our group (Jo Quinlan, Chantal Hochstrasser and myself summarized). Pip considers the theory of Diffusion of Innovation when developing professional learning in order to personalize and support the different teacher groups within a school community.
Selwyn quotes Diana Laurillard (2008, p.1) who observed: “education is on the brink of being transformed through learning technologies; however, it has been on that brink for some decades now” (p.66). As a practicing teacher, it does appear to be a slow transformation, with one ‘foot forward, two steps back’ with devices being introduced into schools, but not the infrastructure to ensure that there is sufficient broadband to have online access; or devices only being introduced at certain year levels rather than school-wide; or technology introduced without sufficient teacher professional development, or curriculum mandates and school policies, which also inhibit learning technologies. When even all of these are in alignment, there is still the social and cultural context of the individual teachers to consider – teachers who extend along the continuum from Innovators to Laggards (Everett M. Rogers – see Diffusion of Innovation). Questions that need to be asked, as Pip Cleave acknowledged in Colloquium #2, are:
- Where are we going?
- Why are we going there?
- Who isn’t coming with us yet?
“I have to put myself out there; light that fire; inspire. I need to be seen DOING what I am talking about. We are in a good place at the moment teaching in BYOD classrooms to show that you can make a difference with technology. We can see what we have researched and what we believe in coming to life. I believe that students have a better understanding; they are more engaged with learning that is more relevant to their world. They are learning with technology, not learning technology.” (Paraphrase of Pip Cleave’s closing comments)
The last comment particularly resonates and indeed echoes Selwyn’s (2010, p.67) declaration of how “much of the academic study of educational technology that has taken place over the past 25 years is perhaps described most accurately as the study of ‘learning technology'” as opposed to Pip Cleave’s focus on “learning with technology”. It is this latter distinction, that allow us to look at how technology fits ‘within the wider social contexts that make up education and society’ (2010, p.67) – moving beyond educational institutions to museums, libraries and also the informal learning contexts of the home, workplace and wider community settings. Selwyn takes us even further outward, where we have to critically consider and understand technology-based learning within the wider social milieu and influences of commercial marketplaces, nation-states, political and cultural institutions and global economies (p.67-68).
This critical approach towards educational technology, means considering issues of empowerment, equality, social justice and participatory democracy (p. 68, referencing Gunter,2009). Selwyn advocates Amin & Thrift’s (2005) agenda for critical scholarship:
- engagement with politics and the political
- belief there is a better way of doing things, than is currently done
- orientation to critique power and exploitation
- critical reflection towards our own practices.
It also requires that we do not see technology within a ‘deterministic’ thinking lens that technology ’causes’ or ‘effects’ learners in certain ways. For Selwyn, this is simplistic thinking. As he states, “the critical study of educational technology starts from the premise that ‘devices and machines are not things “out there” that invade life’ (p.68, referencing Nye, 2007, p.ix). Instead, “gaining a full sense of how and why educational technologies are being used in the ways that they are is therefore underpinned by understandings of how these technologies are socially constructed, shaped and negotiated by a range of actors and interests” (p.69). It is critical to focus “on the problems and the ‘messy realities’ of education technology use [looking at] where technologies are not being used, or being used in ways that are suppressive and disadvantageous” (p.70). As digital scholars we could also be looking with a design thinking lens, and use procedures that include the views of all stakeholders, including ‘extreme users’ (Brown, 2011, p.382). As Selwyn states (p.71), ‘give voice to the marginal and excluded’ as well as those on the ‘inside’. For schools, I imagine the excluded voice is the student voice.
Finally, for Selwyn (p.70), the questions we need to be asking are:
- What is the use of technology in educational settings actually like?
- Why is technology use in educational settings the way it is?
- What are the consequences of what happens with technologies in educational settings?
Brown, T. (2009). Change by design. How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York:HarperCollins e-books.
Brown, T. & Katz, B. (2011). Change by design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383.doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x
Cleaves, P. (2016, July 28). Leading learning in a Web 2 world [online meeting]. In INF537 Colloquium week 3. Retrieved from CSU LMS Interact2.csu.edu.au
Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x