Curation, combat coping? Student entanglements with technologies in HE
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Curation, combat coping? Student entanglements with technologies in HE



Developments in technologies have led to far-reaching social changes in communication, as mobile digital devices permeate our day-to-day lives. This has also changed the way students engage with texts ...

Developments in technologies have led to far-reaching social changes in communication, as mobile digital devices permeate our day-to-day lives. This has also changed the way students engage with texts in higher education. This paper will report on a JISC-funded study into student engagements with technologies, illustrated by data from a 6-month multimodal journaling study using handheld devices to document practices with photos, video and notes, explored in a series of in-depth interviews. Drawing on sociomaterial approaches (e.g. Fenwick et al 2011) and Feenborg’s notion of the ‘margin of maneouvre’ (1999), the analysis focuses on three student forms of engagement in the data: ‘curation’, ‘combat’ and ‘coping’. The paper will conclude with implications for pedgagic and institutional practice, plus future directions for related research and theory.



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  • Feenberg, A. (1998) Questioning Technology. London:Routledge.

Curation, combat coping? Student entanglements with technologies in HE Curation, combat coping? Student entanglements with technologies in HE Presentation Transcript

  • curation, combat orcoping? studententanglements withtechnologies in HE.Lesley Gourlay & Martin OliverInstitute of Education
  • overviewdigital mediation and textual practicesmultimodal journalling: findingstheorising agency
  • „the university‟ isenacted through day-to-dayentanglementsclustered aroundtexts
  • these are overwhelmingly characterised bydigital mediation devices and practices
  • texts and semioticpractices are elided incontemporary accountsof the university,rendered transparent,„innocent‟ repositories,stripped of situatedness,materiality andembodiment
  • textual practices in theuniversity are saturatedwith digital mediation,entanglements withdevices, and hybriddomains
  • the study2-year funded project Literacies programme,10 projects1st year: student researchFocus groups Longitudinalmultimodal journalling2nd year: implementationprojects
  • Yuki: ‘curation’
  • for example when I attend a lecture or a session Ialways record the session, and it‟s after thesession, but sometimes I listen to the lectureagain to confirm my knowledge or reflect thesession...when I, for example we‟re writing anessay and I have to...confirm what the lecturersaid, I could confirm with the recording data.(Yuki Interview 1)
  • Sally:‘combat’
  • I was like bullied into it by people saying, oh, you‟ll be leftbehind if you don‟t use Facebook. So yes, that was when Igot into it, so... And then... so now I would say Facebook,I‟m not the most... like I said to you in the focus group, I‟ma bit uncomfortable about the whole kind of like Big Brotheraspect. (Sally Interview 1)I feel like, also that Google is equally watching you. Youknow, they‟re all watching you, they‟re all trying to sell youthings, and the thing is not, I don‟t so much mind beingbombarded with advertising as I mind having things putabout me on things like Facebook that I don‟t want. Youknow, I don‟t want my friends to spy on me, I don‟t want myfriends to know what I listen to on YouTube. (SallyInterview 1)
  • Faith: ‘coping’
  • In my school, I… we had… our staff room wasequipped… one, two, three, four, five, six, seven…seven computers now we can use and only one ofthem attached with a printer. So, actually we‟ve gotsix PGC students over there, so it‟s, kind of,everybody wants to get to that computer where youcan use the printer. Yes, so in the end I found actuallyI can also use the printer from the library in theschool. student teachers tried to use other computer.So, sixSo, it, kind of, sometimes feels a bit crowded. Andwhen the school staff want to use it, well, okay, itseems like we are the invaders, intruders?
  • theorising agency
  • sociomaterialperspectivesActor Network Theory (e.g. Latour 2005)Sociomateriality (e.g. Fenwick et al 2011).
  • „If you can, with a straight face, maintain thathitting a nail with and without a hammer, boilingwater with and without a kettle...are exactly thesame activities, that the introduction of thesemundane implements change nothing importantto the realisation of tasks, then you are ready totransmigrate to the Far Land of the Social anddisappear from this lowly one.‟(Latour 2005: 71)
  • Enlarging the ‘margin of maneuver‟ for studyingPower expresses itself in plans which inevitablyrequire implementation by those situated in thetactical exteriority. But no plan is perfect; allimplementation involves unplanned actions inwhat I call the “margin of maneuver” of thosecharged with carrying it out. In all technicallymediated organizations margin of maneuver is atwork, modifying work pace, misappropriatingresources, improvising solutions to problems andso on. Technical tactics belong to strategies asimplementation belongs to planning. (Feenberg,1998: 113)
  • The under-determination of technologies for studying If all this is true, why aren‟t we more aware of the public interventions that have shaped technology in the past? Why does it appear apolitical? It is the very success of these interventions that gives rise to this illusion. Success means that technical regimes change to reflect interests excluded at earlier stages in the design process. But the eventual internalization of these interests in design masks their source in public protest. The waves close over forgotten struggles and the technologists return to the comforting belief in their own autonomy which seems to be verified by the conditions of everyday technical work. (p89)
  • implicationsUndermines stable,taxonomic accounts ofdigital literacyDestabilises notions ofsingle, stable, humanauthorship and agencyOpens up politicalquestions about the(non-)involvement ofstudents in design
  • Feenberg, A. (1999) Questioning Technology. London: Routledge.Grint, K. & Woolgar, S. (1997) The Machine at Work: Technology, Work andOrganization. London: Polity Press.Hayles, N. (1999). How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics,Literature and Informatics. London: University of Chicago Press.JISC (2012) Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute? [Accessed 30 June 2012]Kittler, F. (2004). Universities: wet, hard, soft, and harder. Critical Enquiry 31(1): 244-255.Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory.Oxford: Oxford University Press.