In working to unpick the complex dynamics at play in the way that digital technologies have been taken up (or not) by schools, I have been exploring the concept of the ‘postdigital’ as a way to theorise what is going on.
On the one hand, there is much discourse suggesting that schools are not doing enough to equip students to work in a globalised highly-technological economy and that they need to do a better job of embedding educational technologies in schools. On the other hand, schools make a great deal of use of highly technological administrative systems, and are increasingly using educational technologies such as learning analytics, adaptive computer testing, administration packages and learning management systems. So are schools digital enough yet?
The idea that schools need a digital revolution is passe and the notion of the postdigital (i.e. the revolution has already happened and that we are now so used to the use of digital technologies that they are noticeable only in their absence) is useful here. Considering the postdigital allows for a more nuanced exploration of the use of digital technologies beyond the off/on binary logic usually encountered in this topic.
A new journal has been been recently launched dedicated to exploring Postdigital Science and Education. 19 scholars from around the globe, including me, have recently had a piece published in this journal in which we respond to a recent editorial which explores this notion of the postdigital.
The article is ‘Between the Blabbering Noise of Individuals or the Silent Dialogue of Many: a Collective Response to ‵Postdigital Science and Education′ (Jandrić et al. 2018)’ and the abstract appears below. [The article is currently available via open access link to the preprint version – until April 14th]
This article is a multi-authored response to an editorial ‵Postdigital Science and Education′ published in 2018 by Petar Jandrić, Jeremy Knox, Tina Besley, Thomas Ryberg, Juha Suoranta and Sarah Hayes in Educational Philosophy and Theory as a mission statement for the journal Postdigital Science and Education. Nineteen authors were invited to produce their sections, followed by two author-reviewers who examined the article as a whole. Authors’ responses signal the sense of urgency for developing the concept of the postdigital and caution about attempts at simplifying complex relationships between human beings and technology. Whilst the digital indeed seems to become invisible, we simultaneously need to beware of its apparent absence and to avoid over-emphasizing its effects. In this attempt, authors offer a wide range of signposts for future research such as ‘the critical postdigital’ and ‘postdigital reflexivity’; they also warn about the group’s own shortcomings such as the lack of ‘real’ sense of collectivity. They emphasize that postdigital education must remain a common good, discuss its various negative aspects such as smartphone addiction and nomophobia, and exhibit some positive examples of postdigital educational praxis. They discuss various aspects of postdigital identities and point towards the need for a postdigital identity theory. With these varied and nuanced responses, the article opens a wide spectrum of opportunity for the development of postdigital approaches to science and education for the future.
This article marks a starting point for me with my engagement with this concept of the postdigital and I feel that it will be a fruitful tool for my work in considering the dynamics of educational technologies and schooling.