Sunday, August 3, 2008

Post-BotCamp Impressions

It's the day after BotCamp and I am slowly unpacking the experience. The impressions that seem to last at the fore revolve around the importance of what I'm terming as "the experiential". Basically this is a reference to kinesthetic learning, or learning by doing and interacting with actual objects and artifacts. Please (re)read my previous post and linkage to BotCamp if you need's a quick skim through.

What's huge for me as I comb through my ethnographic notes is the impact that BotCamp participants felt from walking through the woods and handling plants, leaves, and trees. All of the technology enhanced curriculum we designed really facilitated access to vast amounts of information (which was the point), but the exhilaration and learning seemed to stem (no pun intended) from actual material relations.

Too much of our curriculum seems to fetishize technology, simulation, and "the virtual". Not that technology, simulation, new media, etc. doesn't have a pretty huge role in pedagogy and in does. However, materiality still matters. Ideological and social iterations that are massively distributed through virtual relations and networks ultimately play out in the physical...there is no way around that.

But...the only way to realistically synthesize technology and its attendant virtual and/or hyperreal worlds is to argue for an adamant resistance to dualisms (dualisms that ultimately result in an equation where technology/simulation supplants material interaction). In a sense I'm thinking of a sort of reanimation of Donna Haraway's cyborg theory.

To that end, we are already cyborg to the degree that our technological tools have "presence", we depend on them, and they mediate our reality. Importantly though, our technological tools do not replace our reality. Techno-utopians often fail to accommodate for this and techo-dystopians amplify it a bit too much (or at least I hope they do). Plus, technology is not merely deterministic. There is no way, I mean no way, to control how individuals and groups will make do with technology once it's available and subject to users' competencies and resources (e.g., time and money). A flexible pedagogy and practice is the only way to accomodate this. Back to the notes...more soon...

1 comment:

Julian Martin said...

I believe that there should be a good relationship between learning through hands on material and education dependent on technology. It does seem that curriculum is being geared towards technology and learning from a class room. Even in elementary schools, its seems that fewer field trips are being taken because school's believe that education is best learned by having concepts jam packed in a class room environment. This environment is becoming more technology driven. If you look at just the progression of my education it is clear to see that technology plays a larger role. I remember in elementary school that if you made a poster or a cube presentation you were doing top notch work. In middle school good work went towards power points and digital videos. In high school, everyone was doing multimedia presentations and setting up websites. I believe that if more hands on learning is applied then students will be more appreciative of education because hands on learning allows for spacing of the jam packed curriculum. In school I was part of Outward Bound and Student Government and when we had a field trip for hands on learning I was always looking forward to it because it allowed for more fun with education