With the advent of new information & communication technologies, various initiatives are exploring the possibilities of learning with/in technology. Many of these initiatives, however, have encountered difficulties in addressing their specific contexts due to infrastructure differences as well as the generalizing logic inherent in the design of these technologies. This panel will present and examine the intersecting trajectories of learning with/in technology from a global perspective. Each panelist comes from a different geographical location--Latin America, Africa, East Asia, and the United States--and represents diverse academic backgrounds: Media Studies, Art Education, Education Policy Studies, and Modern Chinese Studies. This panel will initiate interdisciplinary discussions on the challenges of learning with/in technology that arise in this globalized digital era.
BIO: I’m a second-year doctoral student in Communication and Media at UIUC, with an INTERSECT fellowship in the Learning to see Systems group. I’m also a HASTAC scholar for 2014-2015. After I finished my history degree, I worked on designing databases for anthropological and historical research. I turned to communication studies to research the online practices of software developers and teachers who participated in the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) deployments in Latin America. Before coming to the US, I conducted a research on the history of Computer Science at Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia. I am currently interested in Technology designs for the Global South, and especially in everyday practices of technological use and design, and its negotiations with the increasing number of initiatives in global design.
Presentation Title: "Outside of the OLPC classroom: Critical approaches to one-to-one learning and the possibilities of designing with the other"
The design process for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) began in 2005. A network of actors, unified by the MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, worked on developing a prototype of “low cost, rugged laptops as means of ‘‘creating educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children’’. On the pedagogical side, OLPC was based on constructionist theories of learning pioneered by Seymour Papert and Alan Kay, and on the principles in Nicholas Negroponte’s book, Being Digital (1995). As of 2011, over 2 million laptops have been distributed, especially in South America and Africa.
The OLPC venture has been criticized for its mission and issues typical of these kinds of projects. Authorities in a few nations have condemned the venture for its high cost, lack of cultural nuance, and questionable relevance in poor countries. Humanities and social science scholars have stressed the complex networks and infrastructures that gives meaning to these technologies in specific locations.
This presentation will review these critical approaches to OLPC, including the discussions and debates opened by anthropologists, sociologists and educators around the design and deployment of OLPC. Following this critique, I will address the implications of these critiques for developing possible educational spaces that foster shared understanding of located and local technologies by stressing socio-historical aspects of communities. I will finish by proposing a theoretical space that considers practices of design with the other, deploying a dialogic understanding of technology.
Hong-An Wu (Ann)
BIO: Hong-An Wu is a Taiwanese art educator, artist, gamer and researcher. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral degree in Art Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a researcher, she is investigating the intersection of pedagogy and video games. Her research interest includes visual culture art education, sociology of education, digital humanities, and feminism and technology. As an art educator, she teaches artistic practices using digital media in a variety of community settings. As an artist, she practices photography and film.
Presentation Title: "Learning with/in Video Game Cultures"
As an art educator and player, I am deeply intrigued by the attention on video games and learning, as it suggests new ways of conceptualizing education and school curricula. However, I am also critical of the overwhelmingly celebratory claims made about participating in video game cultures.
Beyond the realm of education, many video game players are learning to become active cultural participants in both the society at large and within specific video game cultures. Using the content, mechanism, and experiences of this medium as curriculum, schools have appropriated this cultural practice to demonstrate the need for active participation in any semiotic domain.
The cultural practices within video game cultures in relation to the society at large, however, has not gone unchallenged, and the classroom application of these practices also has its problems. Players and students are learning to become active participants in cultural practices, but what is the value of this learning when the cultural practices are situated within a stratified and hegemonic society?
Critical Internet scholar Christian Fuchs suggests that we should “especially take a look at how freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are limited by unequal conditions of access (money, education, age, etc.) and the domination of visibility and attention by big economic and political organizations” (2012, 404). In order to address these issues, I will discuss the “ideal trajectory” and cultural ideologies assumed in educational scholars’ writings. I will also propose possible future research regarding learning through video game cultures.