Reality vs the portrait of EdTech

I find limited scholarship in the #hashtag #edchat dialogues but I do find their existence fascinating. There seems a craving for importance and to be heard. I pay attention to the biographies of teachers (usually briefly acting in the role) who claim to be founders of things such as TeachMeets and Leading This or That. I accept we live in a neo-liberal political and economic structures and that children are therefore an exploitative market in a global marketplace.

In media theory, the ‘effects’ discourse describes how people reconceive themselves by representing themselves in carefully constructed imaginings – using the illusory power of names and naming.

Let me take Teach Meets. This is a powerful name and represents the counter-culture, a more post modern group, who’s member hold special insight that the establishment either ignores or fails to recgonise the significance of. Describing yourself of this as ‘the founder’ or ‘one of the founders’ is an example of names and naming – to differentiate the self from the others – your product from their product. The fact that Teach Meet is a copy of Bar Camp which has roots in “the penny university’ is omitted as it fails to shape the media space in a way that benefits the founder.

To create a successful branded self – it is important to recognise and activate the power of names and naming. The ‘unconference’ became the ‘hashtag’ discussion. I’d point out here that people who have cleverly set up ‘hashtag chats’ have created nothing more than dial tone. They have simply exploited children to create a simplistic and temporal discussion – using Twitter. There are numerous better channels to use to hold a discussion which can be traced back to online communities of practice – such as The Well.

These things are examples of the work of ‘late arrivals’. We know that teachers have been using online communities well before the iPhone and Twitter. There is a great deal of research done around what they are, why they work and what encourages teachers to form or join them.

What I’m talking about is not that. It is a deliberate practice of seeking illusory power and influence based on nothing more than entertainment, names and naming. If that’s how people want to spend Sunday night being entertained, that is their choice. If people want to claim to have invented things – which have a history which can be traced back for decades – they just appear fake.

The explosion of media messages these people flood into the media discourse is deliberate. It ensures there is no way to reconcile conflicting claims about what is good.

A friend said she thought the online discussion ended up in a cycle, and goes no where. I agreed, this is the intention. The teleself hides its identity as not to offend. The result is are glam-profile pics, lots of positivity statements and rousing endorsements of low skills and pimative insights. I don’t mind offending, as that’s just a term used to avoid what is actually going on – outing people’s whos main goal is to serve themselves. Hashtag #sorryNOTsorry.

The key to finding these people is their neediness. They like to be at the centre of attention but will nominate others to be the channel contact (hosts). They will work in organisations that they think are somewhat authoratiative, then later move to their true goal – their own business – which almost always emerges from their ‘leading insight and experience’ of being at X or Y – rather that what they have done inside the spaces (classrooms) they claim to experts on – and more insightful and brilliant that the audience member (the teacher) – which is the height of derp.

Twitter enables the post-modern construction of the self as a commodity. It makes sense for that product to want to ignore rivals or raise a clan of followers to chase them off. These things STOP reform in its tracks. It is not interested in research or scholarship. It positively acts to dismiss or avoid it.

These people, or rather their projected teleselves (they are probably nice people) are a product of hyper-commodification and fetishism. Note that each of these people have their own fetish and that there align with non-rivals to form body which dominates the mass media discourse. It would be easy to see these people are the alphas of EdTech and therefore buy into their offerings – because we recognise ourselves though the names and naming conventions they control.

The basic issue I have with these two things: TeachMeets and Hashtags is that they are based on the idea that knowledge accumulates and not simply reflections of contemporary history – and in the case of our media-selves – a personal contemporary history – whether and early adopted (circa 2000-2005) or Web2.0 adopter (2005-2010) or late arrival (2010-). Humans like to code and decode communication – and it’s fun to transmit our interpretation of the populous in the hope we are benefitting society (what I’m doing here).

This creates limits and roadblocks. It creates illusory power because the populous is not in touch with the science of technology and craft of teaching. The result is to choke what is possible – as hashtag chats, TeachMeets and other ‘targeting events’ are driven by ‘status’ and over emphases the importance of whatever phenomenon we promote (sell).

If you like, the classroom is a pucture of what education is – where Twitter etc paint portraits of what children and teachers should (or want) to be – using media’s liberating effect – we receive knowledge which is assumed to be accumulative. The mutated self is therefore a product of mass media effects – rather than evidence and research. We only have to look how Pokemon Go was adopted as a new cheese overnight for education and vanished a few weeks later. The work in ‘game-like’ learning is sidelined (again). Even the dominant Minecraft had to take a break – but is not back … and using Pokemon Go as ‘proof’ their product is ‘the best’ – which is part of the switch and bait culture within the cycle itself.

Educational reform (improvements) should not be measured by: similarity, analogy, proximity or attraction. I argue those things are the core of those creating teleself brands and should be called out on thier claims – or better still, dropped into the reality of teaching – the reality vs the portrait.

I’m off to work … have a great day …

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One thought on “Reality vs the portrait of EdTech

  1. None of this is unique to Twitter. I’ve been observing it from the early days of the internet. I can’t help but think it was also present on UseNet though I wasn’t on it enough to be sure.

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