BLOG POST: From under or above the table? Where does educational technology come from? – Abdul Al Lily
The core idea of this post is that the constitution of an educational technology can be informed by implicit values (i.e. from ‘under the table’), just in the same way it can be (or, more specifically, can be claimed to be) informed by explicit values (i.e. from ‘above the table’). Before going into this, however, I should confess that I got this idea while dreaming about my doctoral research – I wish I could have an on-off switch fixed in my mind so that I could force myself to stop thinking about such matters (i.e. my thesis) while sleeping! So, this blog is dedicated to those who spend daytime dealing with academia and night-time escaping from it!
The ‘dish’ I want to present to you today is the so-called ‘educational technology.’ Educational technology can essentially be seen as the ‘product’ of ‘messy’ and heterogeneous social, cultural, economic, political, tactical, organisational and managerial ‘ingredients.’ In other words, an educational technology can be shaped by a ‘cocktail’ of values that might go beyond, above and even against the often educationally, pedagogically and technologically oriented considerations we might expect. So what? Three ‘take-home’ messages can be drawn from the previous two sentences. First, the shaping process of an educational technology should be democratically informed, meaning all actors, stakeholders and shareholders have a seat at the planning table on educational technologies, thereby being able to negotiate interests and needs and ensure that power and control are fairly distributed among these groups. Second, ‘the academic tribe’ should be keen to provide critically ‘context-rich’ (rather than ‘context-free’) analyses of educational technology constitution and use, thus ‘digging up’ those hidden values. Third, the ‘consumer ‘ (i.e. the user) of the ‘ready meal’ (i.e. the already constituted educational technology) should seek to do ‘detective work,’ checking carefully and in a politically astute way those ingredients used to make the technology. In conclusion, have a safe meal!