Instructional Technologies: Agency, Governing, and Imaginaries

20 12 2005


Session Invitation/Call for Papers


Reviewing Humanness: Bodies, Technologies and Spaces, EASST Conference, 2006

University of Lausanne, Switzerland, 23rd-26th August 2006

Session organizers

Ulf Mellström, Linköping University,
Francis Lee, Linköping University,
Jörgen Nissen, Linköping University,
Lennart Sturesson, Natl. Institute for Working Life,


In the ongoing discourse on different spatialities and multiple versions of
imaginary through informational flows, educational and instructional technologies
as technological systems are rarely given visibility or recognition. Our aim
in this session is to give notion to the variety of ways that educational and
instructional technologies can be regarded as different forms of redistributed
thought, governing, and new versions of spatial imaginaries.

We would like to open up for a critical STS-intervention into educational systems
where technology plays a crucial part. From archaeological findings on ‘writings
in sand’ to contemporary on-line learning communities, artifacts and the way
they distribute and redistribute thought is a leitmotif for learning, teaching
and thinking in a number of layers in various forms of education, whether it
be university campus education, distance and correspondence education or youth
education. Such instructional and educational technologies are far from independent
from the thought systems to which they belong. Rather, ‘they model styles
of thought’ (Turkle 1997). In what ways are instructional and educational
technologies actually linked to governing systems of thought? Are there specific
regimes of practice in technologically mediated technology? In what ways are
information and communication technologies generally part of new ways of learning
or are there new ways of learning? This session is organized around three broad
themes in the intersection of education and STS. We invite papers that touch
on one or several of the themes, but also papers which transverse the themes
in apparent and non-apparent ways.

Theme 1: Governing and Practice. Technology in education creates multiple
and specific power relations between school, teacher, student and the state.
For example: In correspondence education, responsibility for discipline and
learning is shifted from state and school to the individual level through inscribed
technological devices; or online learning platforms prescribe certain sanctioned
teaching practices to the teacher which circumscribes the afforded spaces of
action sharply. Visual simulations in technical and medical education steer
the students’ incorporation of the ‘correct’, and easily visualized
knowledge. The question is how these practices are enacted? Which are the forms
of rationality that are employed in governing? Which visualizations and apparatuses
are used? How are the subjectivities that are presupposed and shaped in these
practices done?

Theme 2: Agency, Technology and Education. The question of agency
is closely linked to the assignment of responsibilities in the educational process.
In a mediated and technified education agency is distributed in complex and
heterogeneous network. The responsibility for learning flows in different directions
depending on the specific configuration of the network. The ordering of the
network thus creates different ways of understanding who is responsible for
educating and who is responsible for learning. Is this retraceable in contemporary
and historical practices?

Theme 3: Imaginaries, Globalization and Eduscapes: Contemporary knowledge
trajectories are a major force in globalization flows and students and scholars
migrate on a global scale due to various factors such as diasporic imaginaries,
money, knowledge thirst and dreams of a sustainable life. ICTs are the driving
force in the increase of spatiality. People commute worldwide according to such
‘eduscapes’. They study and teach on a global scale through distance
education, virtual campuses and collect degrees from different continents. In
this respect education going global is shrinking the world but also stratifies,
creating new and neo-colonial patterns of inequality and competition. In the
globalization and concurrent massification of higher education knowledge trajectories
are being redirected, but in what ways and through which means? We encourage
and invite critical contributions considering ICTs, education and different
form of knowledge trajectories.




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