Well, I’ve been back in Perth for a few weeks now after delivering my keynote at the Drama Australia “Turning the Tides” conference.
I was presenting on Monday morning and was first up – there were quite a few latecomers as the conference dinner was held on the Sunday evening.
My topic was This drama is pwned: 1337 drama – a bit lame I know but the point was to show that most drama education folk don’t necessarily know the world of gaming and online interaction. I tried to push the point that we need to abandon simplicity for a while and take some control of the various types of technology that are available to us.
I demonstrated the pretext material I’m using for my online process drama as an example of the social issues that can come into play in the online world.
A couple of my points that seemed to strike a chord with the audience:
Just because we have the first generation of so-called “digital natives” doesn’t mean they are more in control of the technology.
They may be less concerned about using the technology but far from all of them are in control of the technology.
The “prosumer” (Carroll) or “produser” (Bruns) may be able to rip, mix and burn but we can’t assume they can grip, fix and turn.
This notion of GRIP, FIX and TURN – the capacity for control, the capacity to remedy, the capacity to reposition…..
What seems to be missing from most of the online learning environments, and technology integrated learning experiences is a lack of ambiguity. Especially moral ambiguity. We can take kids into virtual worlds and learn all sorts of facts and figures – this is incredibly and stiflingly safe. Students are already engaging in online communities and yet the one subject at school that could offer a real critical investigation of the stakes is often the one area that shies away from the technology. Look to MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, and a vast array of other Web 2.0 social networking tools. Blogging is passe, vlogging and podcasting are rapidly becoming the older forms, new ways of interacting are emerging daily. Second Life has just released their Teen world… a whole new horizon of human interactivity becomes the norm for the “digital natives” and they expect nothing less.
What we need to ensure in any engagement with new technologies is that we do not overly simplify the learning – we do not want to go down the path of simple declarative narratives that do little but embed snippets of information. Rather we want to ensure that there is complexity, space for repurposing, re-presenting, redaction – we want to maintain principles of critical pedagogy – to engage students not merely entertain them, or worse, subject them to playing roles in a deceptive marketing exercise for schools – often called the school production. The types of technologised performance we are chasing must offer an unpredictability of meaning – what Malaby calls “semiotic contingency”… an openness of reading and meaning making.
Not only blogs, but any socially constructed space – games are but one expression of these new performance spaces… what haven’t we even begun to consider?
“Indigenous people are subject to stereotyping by non-indigenous” Anne Marshall
How do we treat the techno-literate and gamers? Digital natives are often regarded the same way as indigenous people – they complicate our perceptions.
My perception is that when it comes to technology our “theatre/drama” mindset limits rather than liberates us.