25 Years of Ed Tech

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“Don't let the bastards grind you down.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Show Notes

For Between the Chapters episode, Laura is in conversation with Audrey Watters and sava saheli singh to navigate these troubling waters of educational technology. This episode swirls around the ed tech’s dystopian storm from Chapter 25; however, we all agreed there are many dark aspects from previous chapters and years prior to hit the fever pitch of 2018.  The issues and challenges of a number teaching and learning technologies have been brought up in previous bonus book club chats. Beyond avoiding the sci-fi plot being drafted by technology companies, we can find agency through refusal and doing more than just being critical of  ed tech. We need to return to a sense of “the commons” in higher ed, where care and compassion  coexist with our practices -- let’s pack up our values & build that space again, my friends.
Questions asked:
  • Where do the responsibilities lie for educational technology?
  • When was the last time you resisted technology? How do you use refusal in ed tech?
  • What should we refuse or resist more, in general? 
  • Where did the common go in our shared institutions?
  • How can we build a better community to have reciprocity and responsibility for one another in ed tech/higher ed/life?
  • What if we do decide that ed tech makes things worse?
  • Where do we go if ed tech is actually a dystopian project?
  • What is it that we value that is not wrapped up in ed tech we want to take with us?
  • How do we reclaim some of the agency, hope, and good stuff we thought would come out of ed tech?
  • If there is a commons somewhere, where is it? Can we get an invite?
Continue learning from these guests of the pod:
We want to hear from you, dear @YearsEd listener! Submit your audio reflections by May 1st to add your voice to the community audiobook project! #25YearsOfEdTech: Call for Audio Reflections When recorded, send a message or tweet.

Do you have directions out of the ed tech wasteland? Are you building the commons somewhere? If so, tell us about it! Send a message or tweet. Podcast episode art: X-Ray Specs by @visualthinkery is licensed under CC-BY-SA. Remix by kevin tsakuhhin.

What is 25 Years of Ed Tech?

25 Years of Ed Tech is a serialized audio version of the book 25 Years of Ed Tech, written by Martin Weller of the Open University and published by AU Press. The audio version of the book is a collaborative project with a global community of volunteers contributing their voices to narrate a chapter of the book. Bonus episodes are a series of conversations called "Between the Chapters" to chat about these topics and more!

"In this lively and approachable volume based on his popular blog series, Martin Weller demonstrates a rich history of innovation and effective implementation of ed tech across higher education. From Bulletin Board Systems to blockchain, Weller follows the trajectory of education by focusing each chapter on a technology, theory, or concept that has influenced each year since 1994. Calling for both caution and enthusiasm, Weller advocates for a critical and research-based approach to new technologies, particularly in light of disinformation, the impact of social media on politics, and data surveillance trends. A concise and necessary retrospective, this book will be valuable to educators, ed tech practitioners, and higher education administrators, as well as students."

Text in quotes from the book website published by Athabasca University Press CC-BY-NC-ND
BG music Abstract Corporate by Gribsound released under a CC-BY license. Track was edited for time.
Artwork X-Ray Specs by @visualthinkery is licenced under CC-BY-SA.
Audio book chapters produced by Clint Lalonde.
Between the Chapters bonus podcast episodes produced by Laura Pasquini.

Hey, listeners, we want to hear from you in your audio reflections or send them to us by May 1. link in the show notes

Between the chapters, a weekly podcast discussion focusing on a chapter of the book 25 years of edtech, written by Martin Weller. here's your host, Laura Pasquini.

Well, welcome to chapter 25 in 2018, ed tech dystopian turn. I'm so excited to be joined by Audrey Watters and sava saheli singh. And who better to talk about dystopia, then, these two lovely ladies welcome, Adrienne sama.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you for having me, too. This is gonna be fun.

I think it is fun. we're rounding the end of the book. Obviously, it's not the end of edtech, and not the end of dystopia worlds. But I'm just wondering, 2018 seems so far away right now, for me, and maybe you what was going on in your worlds then?

2018? I think that, gosh, 2018? Was that? I don't even remember. It feels like it feels like a lifetime ago. It truly does.

I think I had just moved up to Canada. So because I moved up December 2017. So I was getting, I was far away from the from New York and from my community in that sense. And I just moved to Canada and was like learning about how things worked up here. So that was 2018. Yeah, it feels I was trying to think about it when you you know, when I was reading the chapter, and it's like 2018. And I'm like is, is that when the district district in turn of ethics. It's interesting. Like I read through, you know, looking at the date, like the years and some of the technologies was really interesting to me, because I was trying to find remember if that's when I was aware of those technologies and what I was doing in those different years, and like some of the stuff was some of the stuff lined up and some of the stuff that was like, Hmm, I would have put that earlier or I would have put that later. Do you know, I mean, and I think especially the dystopian turn has been at the start, right? Like, I guess that in 2018, more of the conversations became critical, and more of where ad tech was going, felt scary or alarming in some way. And so I get that point of it. But it still felt like we'd been building up to that anyways, you know, that's funny, that

was my reaction as well thinking about thinking about 2018. Not in terms of what I was doing, but what what ed tech was up to. And really, I was thinking hasn't edtech always been dystopian? I mean, since since the outset. And I think it's, I think that that's one of the things that makes it challenging. I mean, even looking through all of the other technologies that Martin covers, I mean, I think that there's a dystopian bent to almost all of them. I mean, it's, it's hard for me at least to look at any of these ins with a sort of with just a shiny, lustrous sort of, I guess, utopian sense to any of them. Really.

Yeah, maybe this is like peak dystopia where the public became aware of dystopia. Or maybe it was written about so I was trying to think about this as well. 2018 I definitely was thinking dystopia for me started after I finished my PhD because everything's in the dark there at that point in your career. So 2014 is when I kind of was taken back to like, I think that was when it started becoming more creepier than it was although Adrienne that you 2013. And we made fun of like, Ed Tech pamphlets at one point to the conference. And so like, I've always been jaded about this, but maybe this is where, after the Facebook Cambridge Analytica thing happened, this is after an election, Brexit, it became a fever pitch of 2018, where we said, more people who aren't involved in any tech realized, oh, there might be a problem with this technology and learning thing.

Yeah, I think that that's that's probably true. I mean, I I know, I mean, in my work, at least, like I said, I've been aware of some of the, the, you know, the really exploitative elements of attack, for for centuries that at least are not me, personally aware of them. But I've been tracking on these ideas. But I do think that there was an idea around 2018, where we started to see a lot of students in particular, push back against some of the tools that were being that they were being forced to use, and I'm thinking in particular of the kinds of personalized learning tools that Zuckerberg the Chan Zuckerberg initiative, summit schools, wanted to use it the K through 12 level. And I think in higher ed, we certainly saw students kind of balk starting to fall. At some of the online proctoring software, and also at the use of tracking devices, on students, actual bodies to make sure that they were in class attending, and so on.

I also think like, in a weird way, a lot of things came together in 2018, where we, we were able to look back and kind of see where all of the ad tech things that had gone before had not quite fulfilled the promise that they had come with. And I think at that point, you know, we'd all been on different social media together for long enough and having these conversations and you know, all of that kind of came together, like you were saying, Laura, in a particular way, there were lots of like, global things going on, and other things that were kind of bringing us to this place, which is like, wait a minute, everything feels a little off in terms of like, where we thought we were going to be with some of this stuff and where we are now. And you're right, the conversation seems to gain some sort of urgency in some ways, like students paying attention, people, however, were paying attention, there was pushback against things it was like, all of that was fomenting and it felt like 2018 was when that happened, except when you come to 2020, which is when I think you know, for whatever reason, the pandemic really pushed a lot of this conversation, a lot of the use of this tag way beyond what a lot of people might have thought like those of us paying attention might have been able to say that and have been warning about this for a while. But I think and that's and that's not Martin's fault that it's not in the book, right, he was not to know that we were going to come to a pandemic that was going to be the catalyst for kind of bringing proctoring into like such, you know, common conversations and media stories about this, and students rising up and all of this stuff. So in a weird way, where his book ends, right after that there's an acceleration of stuff in where we are now, not just in the US and like adoption of some of this technology, but also in the conversations that people are being able to have about it, because so many of our systems, and how the systems are broken, have become that much more visible because of the pandemic, right? It was almost like a stress test and all these things. And weirdly enough, instead of kind of moving towards saying like, Alright, what are our pedagogical practices that need that we need to kind of re assess or like, how do we change this, this is a new paradigm, what's happening instead of kind of taking a moment to pause and reassess and think about this stuff. We kind of lurched further towards surveillance, which is that also alarming in that way, right. So I feel like we're at a second or a different fever pitch of being concerned right now, beyond where Martin's book ends. And that's kind of interesting to think about what you know, I think one of the questions you had brought up when we were discussing this conversation was like, you know, what is missing from this book? And it's this Is it right? Like, what happens when you kind of push where we are into this extreme situation that's global. Like, I don't think we've had like a huge global thing like this happened, that really display some of what's going on and makes us think about, like, I almost feel there's so many things we need to be talking about, because all of them are happening all at once. But that's kind of you know, I I'm looking forward to Martin maybe kind of doing another chapter like after this for now and being like, you know, what, where are we now after that point? Like, I'd be interested to know how he's been thinking about it as well.

No, it's interesting. I want to say, one comment to our listeners. If you haven't seen or heard of dystopia, things threaded throughout this book. It's there are even quoted quite a lot. She's understated her question of edtech. It's, it is severe. And you weren't alone in the guests I'd had on like yourself asking, like, everything from the LMS to learning analytics, saying, just because it's not tracked or visible or seen or counted for is that learning and I do think it coming to the end, this book, we hope isn't ending, and we get to hear from some other folks that are listening, what your thoughts are, because I only can imagine what's impacting practitioners, instructors, teachers and learners. I am glad you brought up that learning aspect because no one's really questioned. What does it mean to be in the system and being part of the proctoring surveillance economy that we have called Higher Ed?

You know, what's always interesting to me is the things that I and other people Sava, others recognize is deeply dystopian. There's always a huge and very vocal cadre of folks who think that this is absolutely the future that they want. Right. And so that's even now with the with the pan and with the pandemic. You know, I still hear plenty of people saying that this has been amazing, because it's really given, given edtech an opportunity to shine. Now people are never going to want to go back into the classroom, everyone's going to want to I'm only attend school virtually. And I always think of back there was an interview many, many years ago in the style section of the New York Times with Sal Khan from Khan Academy. And he was asked, you know, what was the inspiration for Khan Academy for his online instructional videos. And he said that he really likes science fiction, and one of his inspirations was Ender's Game. Holy shit, dude, like that's a story about imperialism, and genocide, and training children, unbeknownst to the children to be soldiers in adults, imperialist war. And that's, like, that's your inspiration for making a site with videos to teach people how to do well on like, standardized tests, math questions. And so it just reminds me that the things that I think of as being dystopian are actually part of the fantasy. They're really part of the fantasy that many people involved in education and education technology. Think of as, as the future that they want. And so the dystopian turn, I'm always sort of pointing out sort of this dystopian turn that we're always on. But I think even with the pandemic, folks, see, this is good. They see this as good for business, if nothing else, but I think that there are plenty of people in education technology, who were very excited about the dystopian turn, because Kuching as edsurge likes to say, you know, there's a lot of money.

I mean, that's what they say, right? Like, I don't I actually don't like using the terms dystopian and utopian, because one person's dystopia is another person's utopia, like dystopian, for whom and like you were saying earlier, right now, like, for some people, this is great, because they're making, they're making bank off of all of this stuff, right? So I think that's important to kind of focus on as well. It's just like, what does that mean? What does dystopian mean? And exactly like so many people who are in technology take inspiration from what what I think of as questionable and problematic science fiction. And then you have the other side of it, which is like, my husband's a science fiction writer. So he sometimes writes a thing. And then he's always dismayed when tech pros take it as a positive thing for them. Because he's written an extremely like, dire, bleak future. And they're like, Oh, my God, this, we can do this with this technology. And it's just like, Whoa, no, that's not the point. And it's just it's really interesting how, who takes water as inspiration to kind of manipulate and control people? I don't know. It's like that. That's what it seems like, how do we control people better?

I think the writers for Black Mirror who said we never meant for them to be predicting social scores. But we see that in China, we never meant for, like, we weren't saying this would be the future. But in some ways, people that are creative, like it sounds like your husband and other people who are writing and thinking about things. It's not dystopian, but it's critical. It's suspicion, as Martin said, and they're gonna put it to the most surreal thing that might actually happen. I think we're entering some of these realities. And I love that you brought that up Audrey, like, do do we want to just be on the screen watching someone's chalk and talk? What's different like that? What's the point of that? Like, I don't even get that.

It's also interesting that you brought up like, you know, the social score, or whatever. And we have to remember that that kind of scoring exists in the West as well, like, credit scores are not that different. Like they control access to things, right. I mean, like, I just moved to Canada, and I don't have credit here. And so I can't have a credit card. But I can't rent a car without a credit card. I can't, you know, there's so like, so all of the scoring sort of stuff has been there for a lot. And it's, it's easy to kind of point to China and be like, well, they're doing this it's like, Yes, they are, but also we are Have we forgotten that we're doing this too?

It's definitely scary. I think you're making the call out seven, I should have changed, says. So I did the same thing. I came to us and you may have good credit in one country. But when you come somewhere else new, there are challenges and you are tracked. And 2018, I will say I was in the midst of doing a study with higher ed professionals, asking them about themselves and their identity, and their digital footprint and community involvement. And that was looking back 10 years or eight years, they started using social networks for their purpose of professional development. But it's just changed and scaled. And I think that reflection of time and use and misappropriation and misuse and how we've taken these tools and co opted them. But we never reminded ourselves that we don't own the data. The data, it's not a privacy policy. It's a data policy for some of these spaces and Chris giller and I rented in a couple chapters ago Just around, it seems so fantastical. And if it does, is it actually going to be great for teaching and learning? Probably not. So anything that edtech vendor could promise you, it probably won't deliver. So ask them those questions. And I think that's where this chapter is trying to push that is being more critical. But do educators do that? I don't know.

Yeah, I mean, one of the things I thought reading this chapter that is frustrating is, you know, where do the responsibilities lie, I'm always really hesitant to say that the responsibilities lie on the educator to be critical or mean, it's as much as I am so inspired by the work that Mike Caulfield does, I also find it kind of problematic to sort of say that it's up to the students, right, it's up to consumers, in some way to be the ones who are better equipped to respond to this. I feel like that, I'm not sure that that's, I mean, it's it's fine and dandy, but it, it feels as though it's not always aware of power. It's not always aware of how we're the where the power lies, and it feels like we're always sort of reacting to the terrible shit that these corporations do, and reacting in a way that's sort of part of their if we react as consumers, we're still sort of part of that part of that cycle. And so it's, you know, I think it's, it's important to, it's important to be responsible, it's important to care. But I also feel like that only gets us part of the way there, I think there's a political piece on the legal piece that that gets us farther there. And that doesn't mean just teaching students how to be better about no more savvy with how they use resources online, I think it means having some real teeth in in legislation and having policies, laws, and also policies on institutional level, that are much, much, much more rigorous with how, what what these companies can do.

And maybe that's maybe that's what needs to be added to this. Right. Which is that, yes, I think educators need to be aware of how these technologies affect them, how they use them, how they're putting their students within that context of stuff. And so I think there's been a shift to like, you know, in terms of like digital literacy and critical thinking and stuff like that, there's been a shift to kind of examine our use of technology and stuff around, which is great. And to kind of, you know, take what Audrey was saying that we need to take that a step further, and maybe educate on how do we actually push back and change that policy? How do we organize together? How do we come together? Like, what, what are the skills? Because that's another there's another set of skills, right? We need to understand where who's making this decision? How do we have a say in that decision? Because a lot of these decisions are made without teachers, and without students even in the room, right? They're made it administrative levels, a company will go to the procurement department or whatever, and say, like, Listen, have I got a technology for you? That's good. And, you know, you'll be able to know exactly what your students are doing at any given moment. And for research is like, yes, this is what I want. I want to be like a surveillance power or whatever. So there's nobody else in that room to be like, we don't know. I know. No, I don't think we should be doing that. And by the time people do speak up, the money's already been spent, right, like, so a lot of you know, students will push back against some of the proctoring companies and stuff like that. The universities promised to like, stop or reduce it, like next time, because you've already spent the money on it. And so I think, including, unfortunately, you know, I want to start by saying, agreeing with what Audrey said that the onus always falls on us, it always falls on the individual, to make sure that we understand what's happening with our data, or we understand what's being done to us. And that's not fair. That's like you, you can't expect me to now become a data scientist, and a privacy like lawyer and a surveillance specialists, like, all like I have to be all of these things in order to understand what's being done to me, and then figure out how to, you know, push back against it. So that's unfair. And also, while we're trying to teach ourselves how to be all those things. We also need to figure out like, how do we push back where in the system, can we insert ourselves and be like, hey, okay, here's what we can stop pushing back, get people. There should be regulation, there should be policy, there should be all of this stuff. So learning that as well, because I think in a lot of conversations that I've had with students there, they always ask like, what should we do? And my answer to them in that moment is like, okay, who's organizing on your campus, you know, are their union If not unionized, if not like, reach out to your faculty Union and say like, it's your responsibility as the faculty Union to, you know, speak up for us and to support us and to do all this stuff. So having solidarity across the system, because we understand that everyone's being affected by it, and moving forward in that way, but that's still, there's still something missing there. Right? Like, and that's, I don't know it either. And I consider myself someone who's like, reasonably digitally literate, and, you know, reasonably understand, you know, understand some of this stuff. But we still know so little about how to push back against this. And that's still being taken advantage of, right. It's like, as a consumer, as a user, I don't know how to shout at appropriate company. When I do they have huge backlash. And we know this in the case of e and Linkletter and what's happening right now with him, it's pulling. I'm also appalled that UBC, which is his institution, I believe, is not like helping him or support him or supporting him in this like in this fight. So I'm, I'm a little surprised that that as well. I am surprised that I'm not I guess that's, you know, like one on one level, I'm surprised at the other level Miko, of course, they're not gonna like put their weight behind this one guy who's fighting against this company. But that's an example right, even when people do and he didn't even push back in a huge way, right? He wasn't trying to affect regulations or policy, whatever, he was just pointing to their practices. And this is the way you know, this is the kind of force with which they come down on him. So that is like something that makes me feel like I shouldn't like I don't do I want to deal with that. And so we have to kind of include, unfortunately, include literacy in terms of like, how do we actually affect change in these like systems that seem to be built against us in many, many ways.

So it's not an individual thing? And I think you're right, that as much as we want to come together as a group, it has to be institutional, systemic. And I think we have very few legislation. You said this best Audrey's like California, California State, you're in consumer Privacy Act as one of the only states Virginia maybe soon, Canada, we have a little spam and slight Policy Act, but it's really light. GDPR. Sorry, Martin, your book doesn't count anymore, because you left and Brexit. So like, there's all these things. But you're right, I think it's nuanced. And I don't think even legislators, I'm thinking about the ones in our country, when they're explaining to them the nuances of a system, a platform a purchasing and what they can do and search, it just blows my mind that like, not even 1% or 2% AOC explains it in the US what that means in translation. They don't get because we don't have a fundamental literacy around some of the technologies, some of the math basic, and some of the things and undergirding practices that you're right, we can't be fighting the fight alone or on a wiki or website or blog, or, or even podcast, you know, we can only talk so much about it without seeing change advocated for, I'm gonna cry. Now, this is really the dystopian chapter. Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot. You too. I knew I brought the right people on to make me upset. But

one of the things I think is so important, and Donna linkless writes about this is I think, recognizing the importance of refusal. And it's actually something that I think that folks who work in edtech have been really bad about is mocking people who refuse to use tech shaming people who refuse to use tech. And I think we need to rethink what it means to refuse to absolutely just refuse to use you to refuse to use the tech and find a space within our own practices within our own policies for refusal, because refusal, even at the individual level, can be really powerful. And I think, you know, if we're developing a set of counter practices, isn't there's not one sort of magic practice that's going to sort of get us get us out of this dystopia. But I think refusal is important. And when people say, No, I won't, won't do this, to poke at it and figure out why. Rather than saying, Ah, you know, so and so is just a Luddite. They, you know, they don't want to learn that new technology. They're just stuck in the old ways they refuse to change, to look at to look at why people refuse and to recognize that refusal is sometimes the only power that people have. And I think it doesn't just mean that people are that people don't want to change or that they don't want to learn how to do something new. I think that people can have really important reasons for refusing. And I think refusing to use technology is something that a tech folks have to make space for, rather than seeing their role as being advocates. For technology even critical, right? We're critical advocates for technology. I think that there has to be space for refusal.

What have you refused lately? either one of you.

I quit Twitter. I quit everything. Actually, I tell us

more about that. Audrey, tell us about your quitting.

And I, as part of like many new year's resolutions, but I'm just trying to be a healthier person. And just recognizing the way in which I think social media in particular just Yanks my chain gets me angry, and makes me feel powerless. And it just wasn't feeling like a productive use of my anger, even, you know, just to be enraged again and again, by stories that were the same sort of, you know, same shit, different day, new shit different day, but mostly same shit different day. I just decided that there was nothing for me on Twitter, nothing for me on Twitter, I have to promote my books. Again, in a couple of months, when you see me log on to Twitter for like five minutes to say, buy my book. But yeah, for right now, I'm just not not Doom scrolling. I'm not really drinking from the sort of dystopian fountain that like Twitter just wants us to be. I think Twitter really gets us into this place of deep despair, because all we see is, is the bad stuff. And I can't, I can't do it anymore.

I hope I have the courage to quit to every every day every week. I'm like, I have to quit this and I don't. And Tim and I talk about it. And he's a writer. So for him, that is a place where you kind of spread the word about something, you know, it's really hard not to be on there. I mean, I continue in my I refused. And I opted out of Facebook and Instagram A while ago and I continued to not use it. And I I continue to not use WhatsApp which is like a lot of it's it's painful. Because a lot of my friends and family in different countries are just like, we're on WhatsApp. Why aren't you and I'm like, Oh my god, I really want to connect with you guys. But I can't on this thing. And I think my relationships with a lot of people have suffered as a result. Like I'm not in touch with as many people. And for instance, my Twitter is not my not as nice as it used to because Audrey isn't there anymore. There is a there in the last year or so. There have been a bunch of people who've left and specifically black academics and thinkers have been just who have taught me so very much. And they left and I miss them. And I and Twitter feels like a worst place. And maybe that's what's going to make me quit where all the people I love leave. But it's it's really hard. You're right, Audrey, it's just like, you know, it's a huge tap and I drink from it. And it's it's hard because everything is fat in there. My you know, love is fun there, my networks, my friends, the awful stuff, everything just is in one place. And it becomes increasingly jarring to be like, oh, here's a funny tweet about like a show I like or here's, oh, here's a video of someone being murdered. And it's becoming harder and harder to kind of have those things exist in the same plane. And it's just it's really, it's really hard and really harmful. And I think it's has rewired how I engage with content and reading. I haven't read a book properly in a long time. There used to be a time when I read two or three books at one time at the same time. And now I you know, I can't remember the last time I properly sat down and read a book for that. So yeah, but I can't I'm trying to think of what else I

I think the resistance idea is really great. Um, RG is I want to share it you're on annotation article in a conference I was at earlier today. And the idea of like, refusing to take on annotations on a website or getting comments on your blog, like choosing by choice and challenge yourself to say like, Where do I want to be? And it's not like, we don't need to be little bots that put out tweets or blog posts, or I'm doing this podcast because I want to and it's talking to the lovely people like you that we can have longer conversations that are nuanced with context and emotion and maybe questions of why we agreed to join Laura for this episode. But I think it's the idea that it's not just a simple byte that someone can take, reuse, repurpose. They really have to listen. They can count the number of shifts we say on this episode if they want and then they also have to think about what does this mean for them if they're listening, like what are you listener refusing these days, and it doesn't have to be the media, it can also be refusing to say I'm going to work at home later or refusing to say, me being a teacher homeschooling Ranch House, having a job and expecting I can do it all is a thing, because it's not like, I think there's lots of things we should refuse.

It's interesting, I think another thing that pandemic is doing right now is, in a weird way, normalizing some of the stuff that you're saying, which is like, okay, it's alright, to step away. It's alright. Like, you know, a lot of the conversations around unplugging and creating laws that allow people to say, I'm unplugging, you can get in touch with me. And so it's interesting that those conversations are bubbling up a little bit, in terms of I mean, they're being cast as wellness in a particular way. That might be I don't know, no comment at the moment on that, but but it's still interesting that those conversations are coming up, right, we all I think we all understand or agree that some of this is, like, harmful to us in certain ways, but we can't turn away still doing scrolling is the thing that's still happening since we're still in a pandemic. But I like that people, at least on in my bubble, we're very clear about saying that it's okay for you to step away, it's okay that you aren't able to do something, it's okay. Because everyone's dealing with so much right now. So it was kind of nice to see corners of my community. Say that, like live that belief that in meetings I've had in, you know, the things we should have had from before, which is like, allowing people to say like, Hey, I'm having a really bad day today. And they're like, you know what, that's fine. Just take two days, and it's become easier to get that space and to ask for it. And to be honest about it. And I kind of like that it's small, and in little corners of like, you know, good communities, but it's there. And I kind of appreciate that that's there that we're kind of there is an element of care that's coming out of this, which is like, hey, how can I care for you? Like, how can I make this less math for you. And I really appreciate that, I think, I want to say that a lot of that has come from black organizers, and organizers of mutual aid and, you know, prison abolitionists, and just like a lot of those conversations around care and compassion and looking out for each other in in hard times comes from there. And we need to like remember that and kind of be grateful that they gave us this vocabulary and this language to use in order to care for each other.

Yeah, and I would, I would add to that, that, I think it's our responsibility as well then to make sure that these that these opportunities are carved out for, for people with less power than us, too. In the case of higher ed, certainly students, but also staff, for example, and non academic staff that this isn't something that, you know, having a mental health day isn't something that just faculty get that this kinds of this kind of care, we need to make space for other people to have access to this as well.

I think that's a good point. And I think like just, it's also encourages some kind of honesty between teachers and students, like there was, I think, a Twitter thread, I won't be able to find this, I'm sorry. But there was a thread going around about how a professor kind of used to teach and all all their students is to turn everything off, and which was fine, the professor said, like, no, turn everything off, that's absolutely fine. You know, that's not a problem. And then they started realizing that it was just really hard to speak to and be animated and teach to and learn with just these black squares, right. And at the end of that semester, I think the professor kind of was honest about that to the to the students, and the students kind of understood that and then took it upon themselves to kind of have at least a handful of them with their videos on during certain parts of it. And then if someone turned it off, another one would turn it on. And I think like having that conversation in the community saying, like, you should be able to have your camera off if you want to, but also understand how that's impacting our interaction, and then having the community coming together and be like, Okay, how can we make this better, it's not a big deal, I can do this little thing that makes this whole process a little better. So I think even that like having educators and the people that working with having that conversation, especially in a time when I want to bring in like personality into this conversation, because I feel like a lot of attack feels punitive, it feels like it's, you know, trying to, it assumes you're bad and is trying to catch you out in that bad behavior or force you into it somehow, in some ways. And that is that, to me is very dangerous, too. Right? Like that connection to kind of looking at everybody as as a criminal of some sort without, you know, without understanding what's actually going on, or how to really approach people and help them with compassion. Rather than being With punishment, and I know Audrey can probably speak to this very well, being an expert on Skinner is to some degree

wanted to offer rewards. Skinner was about rewards, not punishment.

But what you bring up Sava is you're talking about agency trust, and honesty leaders that are going to be okay with things getting ugly. And in higher ed, I never experienced a leader, the one to admit they were wrong, that they made a mistake, or that they failed. And their power depends on that hierarchy of this is what says go. So I would love to see a leader, and administrator because I think of the staff that are being told what they're going to do coming to campus, I think about the instructors that are told you're in a high flex, in and out the classroom these days, and all these other staff that are now public health administrators on campuses, literally, that they don't feel like they have that power, they feel so disempowered. I have one group I got to talk with in a week. And I said to the the leaders of VPS, I'm gonna ask them to design their own work, and it's gonna get real, and we're gonna have some real talk about what they would choose to do, how they would show up what meet a meeting would look like if they got to choose to have them at all. And so like, that requires a whole shaking up of everything of the status quo. And the patriarchal system of higher ed that we live in. So like, I would live that dream. I don't know if it's utopia, but I think it's thinking about our systems and structures differently. And what would that look like? I don't know, I made to go back to hear it,

then. No, I think it's, I think it's an interesting like, I don't react well. I don't always react well to terms like leadership and leader and stuff like that, because it tends to put a person in charge of a bunch of other people. And I think what you're describing is less that right? And what you're describing is kind of just like you don't want let's talk to what people how what is what is the condition of work that will support the people who are the workers. And I don't think a lot of people think that way, when you say like, I'd like to see leaders in higher ed or whatever, admit that they made a mistake or whatever, it's not going to happen. They'll apologize for certain things. But they'll apologize in that way. That's not a real, not really an apology, right. And, again, increasingly in higher ed. And I know that one of the chapters deals with that. And I think Martin talks about it, too, which is just like the corporate corporatization of higher education and education in general, as well means that who these people represent and who they're doing things for isn't the people who are there anymore, like it's not the students and it's not faculty ends, not the admin, its stakeholders, shareholders, whoever is, you know, the people who give you the endowments, like stuff like that they're answerable to someone completely else. And until that really shifts, it's really hard to expect anything that is actually equitable, and kind of supports the people that make up the university rather than the people with the money.

One of the things that I think a lot of to pull together a lot of these strands, there's this way in which the US in particular, we're so individualistic, right? It's so about, you know, what I have to do in order to make my way, you know, as a student, or to make my way up as a worker, or even as an administrator, it's all about, it's all about the self was some of the things that we were when we point to these ways in which we see alternatives were were often even when you talked about this podcast, Laura, you talk about things in terms of community, and, and the common that I think are not not not recognized or haven't been traditionally recognized as much at least in American institutions in American society. And I do wonder if, if there's a way in which we can think about, you know, building better community, and what that doesn't mean, I think is sort of the way in which community gets used by these technologies by social media companies, right. That's what that's Mark Zuckerberg favorite favorite word is community. But we're talking about something really different. And we're talking about a deep sense of reciprocity and responsibility for one another, but reciprocity and recognizing that we have to that we have to take care of one another. And that there are that, that we that we have to, I think, be aware of one another in a deeply social but also a deeply political way. That isn't just about the self and higher education is certainly not a not You know, a communal place that in that kind of way, and that would be such a profound, a profound shift. Well, maybe

that's it, Audrey, I'm just a common of higher ed, higher ed does want to admit it's a business, it's just a really shitty run one.

It's also been like weird because it's changed the relationship between learners and educators in a way that's made people consumers. And, you know, and we've given up so much of collegiality or like community in service of consumerism and individuality in that way. And so that's also sad. I mean, you know, higher, it's not, you know, going anywhere good. Right now, there's, you know, I think you've been following. I think it's st Laurentian, right, like the university appear, that's just, it's falling apart, and there's no support for it, it's, it's gone. And that's the way a lot of places are going to go. And what's alarming to me is that in the way that the pandemic has shown, technology, companies are going to step in and try to fill that gap in a way that's just really heartbreaking to me, in some ways, and I worry about that, because technology has always tried to show up as a solution to human problems. And that's never, never been the right answer, right, this technology kind of AIDS us in certain things. And I want to say I'm not anti technology, I'm anti, like, who has the power and who has the money in these equations. And I think, sadly, you know, just to go back to like, you know, 2018, and where we are, and what's going on, I think, in some ways, the positive things and the ways that technology really gave us some sense of like, wow, this would be a cool new way to engage with things and each other, and people like the shine of that definitely rubbed off. And we're coming to the place where like the pros are not outweighing the cons as often anymore. And I think that's an important place to come. But a lot of people are being hurt in the process of it. And that that's, it makes me sad, it makes me worried it makes me uncertain of my own future in certain ways, and certain of all our futures in many ways. It's, it's alarming, and I hope that conversations like this, kind of, you know, inspire us to continue to try to come together in different ways and be there and you know, be there for each other and solidarity and mutual aid in support, and community all of these words that seem to have been taken away from us in certain way that we can bring them back and make them mean, what they actually mean for us.

Yeah, and I think I'd like a call about leader, I honestly don't need you to have a title. I don't care what your role or function is, I want to know that you're going to contribute to whatever this new space in place is going to be. And I, I do think colleges and universities around the world are going to be challenged to say, how are you going to reshape what you do? Without doing the same behavior as patterns and practices? It's going to be a huge challenge. Before we wrap up, I was wondering if you have any questions for Martin, or perhaps the community of listeners to have them think or challenge themselves to think about, not dystopian turn, but what it means for them going forward? Now?

I think one of the things I would want Martin, and or the community to think about is,

what if

we do decide that ed tech makes things worse? That, you know, with all of the, with all of the knowledge that we have of how things look today of what technology companies in particular, the future that they seem to be plotting for us? You know, where do we go? If Ed Tech is actually a dystopian project? What What do we what do we take? What are actually the values that we can practices that we can take forward? that aren't perhaps bound up in the edtech? itself? Right, what is it that we value that is not edtech? That that we can take forward out of this? And I think that what are people going to do? If they recognize that a tech actually is making it worse,

maybe something that I've been trying to do more of not doing very well, but is also kind of really highlighting and bringing to everyone's attention examples of like, where people have been successful in advocating for themselves and pushing back against some of this stuff, you know, what are the strategies they've used to do that? How have they achieved some of that? How have they reclaimed their learning and their technology and their, you know, their space and some of this, there are a few examples of that. But it would be nice to kind of highlight more of that and not in the terms of like, Oh, look at how downtrodden these people were and they might like not like that. That's like I hate that stuff. Because it's not through either like they shouldn't have been downtrodden in the first place, like just thinking about, like, what are movements and, and groups that are really making a difference that are having these conversations. There are a lot of little groups that have a lot of little things going on that I don't know about. I know about some of them, but trying to reach them trying to, you know, combine with them. I'm trying to highlight some of that. So I would love to learn more about those things. So I don't know if this is a question about like, you know, what should Martin what should chapter 27 be? or whatever it is, right? It's just like, what are what are some What are good examples of stuff where this has been good? Like, how do we reclaim some of the agency, some of the hope some of the things that we the some of the good things, we thought we were gonna get out of this, like, how do we how do we move closer to that again, you know what I mean? Like, how do we come back to them? I don't want to be the shouty, like pessimistic person, like life, I really don't. But I can't help it because it's like until it's good, I got a shout. So I'd like to kind of, you know, shift into being like, Okay, what are the good things that are happening? How do we highlight those? How do we how do we replicate those? How do we learn more from them? That kind of stuff?

to come back, you

know, to come back to your comment a bit about how much Ed Tech is commingles with carcere ality, you know, one of the things that we have seen, I think, are in several communities and several school districts, including Oakland, where I live now, is it schools of communities of push to get the police out of schools? in Oakland, there are no longer Oakland had its own, the Oakland school district had its own police force. No longer it's been defunded. And if we think you know, that's been a success, getting the literally the cops out of schools. So how do we take that kind of energy, I think and then get the, the way in which, you know, the cop the cop shit, as Jeffrey Morrow says, out of schools, including Ed Tech. And I think that I do think that there are some blueprints that we can look look for, look at.

I am currently trying to be good and read this. Take Mariam qobuz book, we do this till we free us. And I think it's, it has a lot of lessons for us in education and edtech, in terms of how we're approaching students, and how we're trying to control them, and how, you know, all of the weird logics of the prison industrial complex, are applied in education settings. I think that's a really good point. I agree. Like there are people are pushing back against like, no cops on campuses, and, you know, they're successful in some cases. And I'd love to, I want that to continue. And I think we can, but I think, you know, speaking about abolition and what that means and how that affects all of us in every single aspect, I think that is a really important civil rights issue of our time that we need to pay attention to. And as educators, I think we should learn more about this movement and learn more from it. Because there's a lot in there that really, really speaks to how we can free ourselves in education to be more all of the things that you're talking about in terms of community and support and learning in a particular way.

I mean, recognize the past and not get amnesia taken away. What say you? I have really appreciate hearing, both of you, you know, only just ask the questions we need to ask ourselves. And thank you so much for coming to talk. And this is not the last conversation and I hope it sparks mothers to throw back and put out some ideas of what they're working on in higher ed k 12. Anywhere else that they were trying to change, make some change. And I want to know if the comments is being built somewhere. Where is it? And can we get an invite because we're into this? I think we need to do more of that common and shared space. So thank you for joining my small comments here to have a conversation about it. Ladies,

thank you.

Thank you so much.

You've been listening to between the chapters with your host, Laura Pasquini. For more information or to subscribe to between the chapters and 25 years of edtech visit 25 years dot open ed.ca