In a discussion recently relating to 1:1 computing and personalised hardware and software configurations…

Ah, choice! Perhaps the whole concept of “personal” computing might be reintroduced with the push for one-to-one technology imperatives.. and choice of preferred operating systems, hardware configuration, software, input devices, and interface might come along with it…

Imagine the mindset you’ll need as an ICT educator to embrace a laptop program where students can bring in their own machine, configured to their preferences!

I love the concept and the excitement of that – let’s hope its not too far off!!

I got quite a few harsh responses.. so penned this somewhat rambling – and not quite cohesive argument…

Yes, there are always going to be challenges when such things are proposed… partly the solution lies in thinking outside the square – just because we’ve always done the centralised support thing doesn’t mean we need to maintain that paradigm..

I’ve shifted opinion on the diversity issue quite a bit over the years – I used to think Hitler’s VW approach was a very useful way of thinking about production and consumption of large consumer items… and in the case of cars and such I think it probably still is…

… in the case of computers… I’m not so sure that administrative ease should be the main driver in IT use in schools… if we are genuine about recognising different modalities for learning we need to consider whether a blanket approach to technology provision is the most appropriate – and without descending into economic pragmatism we need to really engage with the higher order issues first…

I never for a moment suggested that the BYO approach would be easy for managers – I don’t know if that even needs to be their problem – management of the computers systems could perhaps also be the domain of students in many cases…

Transferable skills with technology are part of the graduate attributes expected of any new teacher… existing teachers can’t be exempt from professional learning…

I wrote recently about the idea of “digital natives” – and even with all the interpretive issues that surround the idea we must acknowledge that the social, economic, cultural and technological landscape has changed from when most of us were watching “Leave it to Beaver” and “Bellbird”…

“Digital natives”, like indigenous and fundamentalist cultures, complicate our perceptions – even “our” is a huge assumption on my part… we can’t approach education or technology with the same deceitful cosmopolitanism that we approach the cappuccino strip… I think we must acknowledge hybridity and start to rethink our approaches – the 1:1 model is on its way; a quick scan of the major EdTech sites will confirm the trend… what we need to do is find more effective ways to work with technology and student expectations.

Interface design is something we don’t seem to consider much in our day-to-day operations – one of the by-products of Web 2.0 is customisation and investment of personal identity in constructing a presence…

While we may not think of a pencil or an exercise book as an extension of self – many people do think of their computers and web presences as such.

Introducing notions of “self” with technology engagement begins to make the idea of one size fits all (which we already know doesn’t) seem all the more ludicrous. When identity is invested in technology, and identity is a major player in framing ourselves as learners we must stop and take stock of such things.

I tend to think we need to look at “self” as a verb… to reclaim the performative aspects of “selfing” as they relate to technology use and engagement. Students are tacitly aware of the fluidity of identity – especially those that engage with social technologies.

In education we perhaps need to reclaim the lost performative of identity and “self-ness” and realise that the FIXITY that accompanies many approaches to our daily operations, and our conceptions of self and identity, limits our capacity for change and sets up problematic approaches to dealing with change. Flux, taken as a given, allows us to relate more realistically to the many issues that face us.

When we can embrace flux, change, uncertainty, risk, ambiguity and complexity we are more likely to find effective, elegant and creative solutions – rather than mundane blocks to progression.

Some great models of this probematised framing of identity can be drawn from the shifts in the way musical artists are changing the traditional business paradigms of the music industry.

The big multi-national labels used to attach artistic identity to their marketing – now many artists/musicians claim different allegiances and pursue their work across genre – and across contexts.

Many historical examples exist- such as Elvis Costello – but more recently the trend to shift context has become a liberational strategy. Amanda Palmer, best known from the Dresden Dolls, forms creative alliances with a range of artists – she markets through a multiplicity of online and other niche communities. She defies the globalised marketing entitities and works to forge new, adaptive and flexible ways of working that allow a broader range of her “selves” to work.

[[seems the advertising world has finally cottoned on to this assertion]]

Social Media: Taking Cues from Indie Music
What Brands Can Learn from Amanda Palmer and Dan Deacon
Posted by Tony Long on 07.22.09 @ 10:37 AM

She seems to understand post-modernity in a very useful way and a very playful way – and a way that we could be offering to our students, alongside many other ways… this playful shifting and redefining from moment to moment is incredibly resistant and subversive – it is liberational.

Our students see these independent spirits using technology – especially sites like MySpace and YouTube – to help them navigate through the and around the established paradigms; to foster their own creative pursuits and allow them to connect with the people they need to.

Can we accept that ‘teachers’ may not be the people they need? – do we understand the cultural implications of all the “time-wasting” that we condemn? I think sitting through a Western Derby is a waste of time, but it still has great significance for those who do – we are casting our own limited cultural understandings upon a new generation – lets not condemn our students to the limited learnings that we have encountered – lets foster their capacity to move beyond us – our role as teachers is to become redundant in the lives of our students – to help them to play… to challenge them to climb off the established paths – to use their new ideological tools to smash our cherished values.

Plato seemed to recognise this many years ago (or so I claim when I interpret) “There is no greater threat to the state than the play of children.”

If we are genuine about fostering liberational and critical pedagogies in schools we need to throw off the search for unilateral solutions, the “culture of ease” that the big tech organisations are trying to foster – we need to find ways to allow our students to follow Amanda Palmer’s lead and forge their own pathways counter to the mainstream, globalised, ubiquity of form and we as teachers could be leading that charge – throwing off the shackles of mundane conservatism – even though we profess it do we live it?

And, yes, I stand charged with the same hypocrisy!! I live within and across my discomfort zone – seeking not comfort but rather the perception of movement – with the expectation that even after all the changes occur even more will arise – and even then I still need to eat, sleep and bathe – to chop wood and carry water.

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