the complex web #edchat #teched

I am nearing the end of writing up my Chapter 1 Introduction to the Research. I have Sections 1.8 Limitations, 1.9 Acronyms and Definitions, and 1.10 Overview of the Thesis yet to do. I do believe the entire chapter is holding together although I have made a few significant changes from the original proposal.

First, the proposal refers to ICT technological cultures rather than ICT perspectives and practices. The main thesis of my dissertation is that the field of education is still operating on an individualistic philosophical basis. An individualistic philosophy is exemplified in educational constructs that position the individual at the centre of the learning process. In the past, this positioning has done great harm, as students, irregardless of their socio-economic status, race, or linguistic and cultural home conditions, were considered individually capable of succeeding in education if they applied themselves. If they were not successful, it was because they were in some way deficient or not making enough of an effort. However, research contradicts this construct. We find a statistical correlation between academic achievement and socio-cultural status. We find race-related socialization contributes to academic success in black families. We find linguistically and culturally diverse students are being systemically under-educated. The notion of individualism disregards the influence our dynamic contextual conditions play on our ongoing cognitive, cultural, and technological development.

I am arguing that this individualistic construct is residual of a flawed, outmoded philosophy that positioned all living and non-living entities in a hierarchical pyramid of value. At the top of the pyramid, human life was considered paramount, and within the vast array of human lives, the ‘white’ race and certain Western European cultures were considered the acme of human development. This construct has been used to position human life and consciousness as superior to other living forms, and to non-living matter. It has even been used to argue that human beings are in someway transcendental, that our consciousness is an indicator that we are particularly connected to a spiritual being, and that connection to this overarching spiritual being places human existence above all other entities on this planet.

There is general acceptance that life exists within an ecology, a complex web of life wherein any change to living and non-living entities causes reverberations of change throughout the system. If this is true for all other living systems, it must also be true for human existence. If it is true that our human existence depends on interconnectivity and interactivity within our ecological system, it must also be true that life in educational institutions can be considered an ecological system. If it is true that life in educational institutions is an ecological system, then it must be true that our uses of technology are an essential entity within our complex web of life. If it is true that our uses of technology are an essential entity within our complex web of life, then it must be true that our involvements with technology, while individually enacted, are culturally formed.

It is this line of reasoning that has led me to consider technology studies education as the study of  technological cultures. Further, as my specialization is digital technologies (aka information and communication technologies (ICT)), I consider our technological lives in educational institutions as ICT technological cultures.

It is true that we, individually, do form ICT perspectives and practices, but the formation of our ICT perspectives and practices are symptomatic of the kinds of ICT technological cultures we have been exposed to.

One of the most fascinating aspects of ecological systems, as complex webs of life, is that they cannot exist without the active participation of living entities within the system. It is the property of interactivity amongst living entities that sustains the connective strands of a web of life. It is true that individual ICT perspectives and practices contribute to the formation of ICT technological cultures. It is also true that the formation of ICT technological cultures influence the formation of individual ICT perspectives and practices.

In my view, the field of education has too long focused on the individual as the site of institutional change. I suggest that we need to focus on the cultures of connectivity that sustain our educational institutions, in my case, the cultures of connectivity that sustain or change ICT technological cultures in educational institutions. For this reason, I write about ICT technological cultures rather than individual ICT perspectives and practices.

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