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Educational technology and the war on public education


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Educational technology and the war on public education

  1. 1. Educational technology and the war on public education The Problem of "Dirty Hands" in UK Universities Dr Richard Hall [@hallymk1,]
  2. 2. • The University is folded inside a systemic, historical crisis of capitalism.• Capital is accumulating historically- developed, public/social value through commodification and coercion [TINA].• Within the University, educational technology is a central site of struggle/dirty hands.
  3. 3. ‘we’re living in a moment when, for the first time,capitalism has become a truly universalsystem.... Capitalism is universal also in thesense that its logic – the logic of accumulation,commodification, profit-maximisation,competition – has penetrated almost everyaspect of human life and nature itself’. Meiksins-Wood, E. (1997). Back to Marx. Monthly Review, 49(2), 1.
  4. 4. [Technology] is a high level system thataffects the way humans interact with theworld. This means that one technology inmost cases can comprise numerousartefacts and be applied in many differentsituations. It needs to be associated with avision that embodies specific views ofhumans and their role in the world. Ikonen et al., 2010, pp. 3-4 []
  5. 5. Technology discloses man’s mode ofdealing with Nature, the process ofproduction by which he sustains his life,and thereby also lays bare the mode offormation of his social relations, and of themental conceptions that flow from them. Marx, K. (2004). Capital Volume 1, p. 493)
  6. 6. Educational technologies embedded at the heartof the University’s hegemonic cultural positions;5.enable the systemic re-production of socialrelationships; and7.offer a critical insight into how teaching,research and development inside the Universityco-opt academic practices for value formationand accumulation.
  7. 7. Polyarchy, the shock doctrineand technology as kettle
  8. 8. Polyarchy• An elitist form of democracy manageable in a modern society.• Normalising what can be fought for in terms of organisation and governance.• Universal, transhistorical norms make it unacceptable to argue for other forms of value or organisation.• It is no longer possible to address the structural dominance of elites within capitalism, or the limited procedural definitions of democracy/participation/power. Political enclosure is reinforced technologically.
  9. 9. The Shock Doctrine: ‘control by imposing economic shock therapy’.• structural re-adjustment: competition and coercion (internationalisation/distance learning)• a tightening/quickening of the dominant economically- driven, anti-humanist ideology (student-as-consumer; HE- as-commodity)• the transfer of state/public assets to the private sector (efficiency; consultancy; outsourced services)• the privatisation of state enterprises/elements in the name of consumer choice, economic efficiency or sustainability (state-subsidised privatisation)Klein, N. (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Metropolitan Books: New York
  10. 10. HEFCE:
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  12. 12. JISC-Announce: what is legitimised?5 March 2012: The case studies are examples of howinstitutions working in an open way can enjoy cost savings, abetter student experience and make resources easier to find.1 March 2012: A new tool launched by Cardiff University’sinformation services directorate and JISC allows people toassess the popularity and use of e-resources so they continueto deliver value for money.24 Feb 2012: JISC online webinars help your organisationbecome more efficient and effective.3 Feb 2012: "This report provides further evidence about thevalue and impact of the resources and discovery systems whichUK academic libraries make available."
  13. 13. HEA, Strategic Plan 2012-16:
  14. 14. The Treasury position, on shared services:2.186 VAT: providers of education – TheGovernment will review the VAT exemption forproviders of education, in particular at universitydegree level, to ensure that commercialuniversities are treated fairly. (Finance Bill2013) HM Treasury (2012)
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  16. 16. The Treasury position, on technology and researcha new £100 million fund to supportinvestment in major new university researchfacilities, including through additionalprovisions. The fund will allocate its firstbids in 2012–13 and will attract additionalco-investment from the private sector HM Treasury (2012)
  17. 17. “Almost every field of employment now depends ontechnology. From radio, to television, computers and theinternet, each new technological advance has changed ourworld and changed us too.“But there is one notable exception. Education has barelychanged. Our school system has not prepared children forthis new world. Millions have left school over the pastdecade without even the basics they need for a decent job.“And the current curriculum cannot prepare British studentsto work at the very forefront of technological change.”Michael Gove at British Educational and Training Technology showcase:
  18. 18. Case 1: Cloud Computing
  19. 19. • facilitates remote working, and the separation and surveillance of proletarianised work;• distributes available commodity- and leveraged-skills amongst low-wage societies through outsourcing;• attempts are being made to commodify and sell the idea of cloud computing in terms of green IT or sustainability, despite the lack of evidence that the cloud is ‘greener’, and industry wraps itself around this concept as a space for further service-led innovation;• academic services are further privatised through outsourcing/consultancy/rent to Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc..
  20. 20. Case 2: Blackboard, private equityand the Pentagon
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  23. 23. A re-focusing on:3.Student Services, based on the student lifecycle;4.Business/learning analytics;; and6.increased marketing beyond North America/WesternEurope. Do we critique, question, take issue with the broaderpolitics of our educational investment?
  24. 24. See also the uncritical implementation of the following.• Mobile learning [in spite of human/labour rights abuses];• Direct university/industry partnerships:• Implementing communications solutions like MS Lync that enable surveillance/enclosure:• The coming fetishisation of learning analytics and data- mining:
  25. 25. An ending:against coercion
  26. 26. “The struggle is not for the University,but against what the University hasbecome.” Prof. Mike Neary (2010):
  27. 27. On technologies for occupation Occupation is painted as extremism Yet there is a raft of them Many with educational or outreach agendas That give voice through communiquesAnd there are radical educational alternatives as works in progressAnd worker/student movements in social centres and beyond
  28. 28. That reflect/refract/enhance the edufactory collective’s call for reinventing universities:• general assemblies as democratic process;• militant research strategies;• research/teaching/labour in public. and which enable us to think through how technology impacts what might be saved from the University, as a commons of scholars. In public.
  29. 29. The crisis is our university!A Manifesto of the Transnational Struggles Against the Financial (i.e.State-Private) UniversityThesis #5: The opposite of university cuts is not money to the existingacademic power, but claiming funds for autonomous education and theself-organization of knowledge production.Thesis #9: The opposite of the corporate university is not thestate/public university, but the common university. The Knowledge Liberation Front (2011).
  30. 30. and so the process of creating aCommons or a Network of Commonsthrough dissent, occupation, protestand refusal and pushing back showsthe courage we share in re-imaginingand re-producing something different
  31. 31. What is the role of academics inthis process of refusal/negation?
  32. 32. Educational technology and the war on public education is licensed underaCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.