[UPDATE 2017-10-05: I have added to the top of this post the listing of Bowers’s seven recommendations regarding education and technology at the end of his book Let Them Eat Data: How Computers Affect Education, Cultural Diversity, and the Prospects of Ecological Sustainability, since after writing I had a chance to read some of it…]
All citizens should understand the following aspects of technology and thus study them as a required part of university education:
There are differences between technologies developed in Western cultures and traditional, more ecologically centered cultures. […]
Democratizing decisions about technology depends on understanding alternative assumptions that influence the dominant approaches to technology. […]
We need a systematic examination of how modern technology contributes to the culturally transforming process of commodifying knowledge and relationships. […]
Modern technology requires a more complex view of tradition. […]
Technology has an impact on language and patterns of thinking. […]
Social justice issues arise from the influence of modern technology on the nature of work. […]
It is important to acquire knowledge about how the cultural mediating characteristics of computers threaten cultural diversity and ecological sustainability. […]”
(Bowers, 2000, pp. 186-191).
This week ended up being a lot more reading than I was prepared for in the initial syllabus as some things were changed around. In any case we are in the midst of working on group projects creating annotated virtual worlds resource lists. I met with my groupmates inside of OpenSim before class in Blackboard Collaborate and OpenSim and we swiftly came up with a plan for how to get our list done. Here you can see us meeting: … oh nevermind. I thought I had taken screenshots but I guess I tried the “snapshot” within OpenSim. It isn’t currently working for me to take snapshots (won’t allow me to email or save to disk), so I thought I took screenshots using the standard Windows command. Nowhere to be found. In any case, picture 3 avatars including my newest, Jeruviella Stardust, meeting by the hale next to the loʻi at the OpenSim UHM COE campus. It was pretty chill.
From the readings this week I am most excited by the following which I have conveniently excerpted at length via screenshots (click image to enlarge):
Salt, Atkins, & Blackall (2008). Engaging with Second Life: Real Education in a Virtual World: http://slenz.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/slliteraturereviewa1.pdf
I found this section so refreshing to read because, despite my excitement about all the amazing potentials of virtual environments/worlds, I find it extremely difficult to truly value those potentials without addressing the colonialism of education itself and the destruction of our broader relations that the infrastructure of virtual worlds are based in. My main caution and concern, as I have stated in a variety of ways, is that the virtual worlds end up being just another tool for consuming and dominating the real world on behalf of some very greedy and unfortunately cunning while ignorant forces. While I have continued to draw attention to those particular concerns without any previous validation in any of our readings and I don’t need validation to know that the concerns I have been raising are valid, it is nonetheless very helpful to see other scholarship in the framework of this course also holding a critical eye toward the coloniality of Second Life. I went ahead and requested a physical copy of Bowers’ book Let Them Eat Data and I am hoping I get a chance to delve into it at some point in this insanely busy semester.
I have not fully had a chance to digest everything the above is claiming or the positions of the authors it is citing, but as someone working on a PhD in Decolonial Futures, I tend to gain a lot of energy from explicit critique and consciousness of colonialism in educational contexts. My general interest in LTEC and in this course is precisely to look for tools and ideas for weaving creative alternatives to the modern/colonial education system, so an uncritical application of educational technology for capitalist purposes is the last thing I want to spend energy on. Anywho… here are the complete citations for the sources mentioned in the above excerpt:
Bowers, C. A. (2000). Let them eat data: How computers affect education, cultural diversity, and the prospects of ecological sustainability. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
Butt, D. (January 01, 2006). Local knowledge: Place and new media practice. Leonardo / Leonardo, the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, 323-326. [also available at http://dannybutt.net/local-knowledge-place-and-new-media-practice/]
McCaw, Caroline. (January 01, 2008). Art and (Second) Life: Over the hills and far away?. Fibreculture Journal, 11.) http://eleven.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-070-art-and-second-life-over-the-hills-and-far-away/
I will end with a brief breakdown of class. We met in BBC for the usual session and slideshow. Dr. Peter gave us some key highlights from this week’s readings and then we jumped into SecondLife to learn more about building stuff (prims) and gathered some resources for doing so within the virtual world. We then jumped over to OpenSim and played a fun game of build stuff in OpenSim pictionary. I was challenged to build a bear which I tried doing by making a giant snow-white cylinder with three wooden balls for eyes and a nose. Or at least that’s what I had up before my time was up. I wish I had screenshots of that to share along with the guesses. Not even close. In any case our teams ended in a tie and we will all be awarded $200Lindens by Dr. Peter for our efforts. That is god news! We ended off with Ty (one of two TA’s) leading us through the process of making signs and then materials dispensers. That was fun too. I am motivated to start building and modeling Dragon Egg Inn, as my test sign in the workshop was a giant Dragon Egg Inn billboard using our logo. In any case I will end with screenshots from both SecondLife and OpenSim … perhaps I will eventually come back and caption them too 😉