“Distributed educational practices: What does it mean to learn in a networked manner?” – Aishwarya Kumar
On a walk back home from the grocery store where I had just picked up supplies essential to my current lifestyle, I received three notifications. The first was a shared link on Whatsapp by a classmate from Amsterdam about a zoom call that was being conducted by Institution for the Arts and Humanites –Judith Butler in conversation with Florence Dore and Andrew Perrin – Who Draws the World: Why Arts and Humanities are Crucial in the COVID-19 Crisis. Another was an Instagram mention which had a friend and ex-colleague tag me to a post that invited listeners to a talk with Fred Moten, Theaster Gates & Adrienne Brown on Art, Space and Politics. While the third was an email invite by the Embodied Connection Conference that was discussing notions of deep and radical embodiment practices by practitioners, movers, scholars, and artists. All three notifications had been received within a time span of fifteen minutes. All three sessions were occurring on a day I was to write an initial proposal for a course named Body in Feminist Discourse while finishing some coordination work for my internship.
When the lockdown first hit, the zoom lectures, live sessions, dispersed and diverse online articulations of knowledge production hadn’t reached the height it has today. Yes, we did have access to lectures by universities on Youtube, we did rehearse multiple theories that were too dense to comprehend through text by looking up podcasts or video recording by the authors, but none of it had been extracted to its current potential. Digital platforms, except for the more alternative formulations of knowledge, had still largely been employed as a substitute to archive a live event. Never replace it, never disrupt it.
The conversation between Felicitas Macgilchrist and Rianne van Lambalgen touched upon three probable scenarios our socio-technical imaginaries could lead us to, that of the “smooth users”, the “digital nomads” and the “collective agencies”. While the three different futures made comprehensible three distinct futures, the conversation soon disrupted any naïve notion of that. The absolute fluidity that each scenario individually presents is anything but a clear compartment. If anything, the reception of the notifications only colluded me into planning a complexly mediated reminder and time management process for a single day. This brings me to an imaginary that is.
The current seems to encapsulate all three futures in variegated permutations based on the individuals’ daily routine. A constant war in needing to dominate the other, the current scenario seems to provide users options at each point, which leads to them needing to decide based on critical analysis of what is relevant, what interests them, what is possible, what is discernible and what is possibly legitimate. All of these choices are already always reaching individuals based on the myriad assemblages they have already been a part of, extending participation access to them even before they have chosen.
The future of educational technology seems to pivot on the very junction of the various imaginaries, attempting to disrupt traditional notions of learning, while negotiating with the very productivity that capitalism demands. Unlike what Mark Fisher stated in his chapter The Slow Cancellation of the Future, maybe the future of educational technologies requires precisely a focus on the socio-technical realities of the past as visualized in the present, of praxis that hasn’t been fruitful and those that need to be reconfigured, in order to make these daily personal curations a way of learning towards a heterogeneous future.
- Transmission in Motion. 2020 “What Follows for Students and Society in the 2020’s? Three Speculative Futures for Education and Technology https://transmissioninmotion.sites.uu.nl/on-education-postdigital-technology-and-storytelling-prof-dr-felicitas-macgilchrist-georg-august-university-of-go%cc%88ttingen-and-georg-eckert-institute-for-international/ (Accessed May 19, 2020)
- Fisher, Mark. 2014. Ghosts of my life: writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=760896.