Steve Wheeler, the author @timbuckteeth, poses questions that really make me think about the foundations of education, what it’s all about and how we should use information in our technological world.
Postmodernist views of society can be appropriated as lenses
to analyse the personalised use of digital technology. Consumers of Web based content tend
to search randomly and nomadically, due to the multi-layered, multi-directionalnature of hyperlinked media and this aligns neatly with some post modern theory. The writings of Deleuze and Guattari (1980), for example, feature the nomadic thought processes that characterise contemporary perceptions, and portray the
chaos of modern life. They employ the botanic metaphor of rhizomatic root systems
to describe multiple, chaotic non-hierarchical interpretations of knowledge.
Rhizomes resist chronology and organisational structures, thereby more
accurately representing the unstructured but purposeful manner in which many
people now use the Web.
importance of Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome explanation is not invested in
individual components, but rather in the direction of motion the entire
organism can adopt at any given time. This is reminiscent of the participatory
Web, which consists not so much of the insights and offerings of individuals,
but rather of what Surowiecki (2009) has termed ‘the wisdom of the crowds’ –
the seemingly random folksonomic directions chosen by entire communites of
users as having meaning and importance. The community decides what is important
to learn, so in effect, the community becomes the curriculum (Cormier, 2008).
education is useful because it embraces the ever changing nature of knowledge,
is open ended, and is not driven by specific curricula whilst learning is ‘constructed
and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the
learning process.’ This form of
negotiated meaning more clearly represents the knowledge acquisition processes that
occur within the transient discussion threads and ephemeral collaborative
spaces on the World Wide Web.
sustaining, and in Deleuze and Guattari’s terms, we see individuals assuming the
roles of nomads, maintaining a constant state of becoming and transformation.
Again, this is reminiscent of the random searching, scanning and jumping around
content through hyperlinking that learners participate in when they traverse
the digital landscape. In effect, students participate as flâneurs, acting as individual agents, investigators and explorers of
their own personal digital terrains. Their seemingly aimless behaviour belies
their essentially purposeful wandering, as learners interrogate their
environment in attempts to make sense of it, understand it, participate in it,
and ultimately portray it (Baudelaire, 1964).
(1964) The Painter of Modern Life, New York, NY: Da Capo Press. (Originally
published in Le Figaro, in 1863).
Guattari, F. (1980) A Thousand Plateaus:
Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Continuum.
(2009) The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many
are Smarter than the Few. London: Abacus.
Theories for the digital age: Postmodern perspectives by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.