Etec565B: METatheory: New Materialism meets the History of Educational Media
Etec565B is another impactful experience that stresses that it isn’t doable to think about technology in an abstract essence, but instead in terms of the total environment (i.e., media ecology). Mcluhan’s famous slogan “Medium is the message ” insights us that technologies are not merely forms and internal structures, they are powerful agents. I initially thought that these media thinkers propose that the relation of human and technology is bidirectional. But after a while, It occurs to me it is more of a “recursive nesting” rendering infinite, evolving, dynamic relations for much larger instances. In line with this understanding, I created two critical tasks in this journey, through which I was able to:
Taylor (1996) talks about the importance to develop ‘border resources’ – creating technology within the social context they will be used, and paying attention to the social conventions that are going to develop overtime around using this technology. In same vein, McLuhan’s tetrad provides a heuristic framework for understanding technology’s consequences and potential. It reminds us that technology is continually tugging in multiple directions. In other words , technological progress is not linear nor universal. NM fundamentals urges new understanding where things aren’t inert and lifeless and postulates attending to material and entanglements within human-technology relations (Monforte, 2018).
In this artifact, I created a professional learning seminar for educational technology specialists to explain “what is new materialism(NM)?” and demonstrate how it pushes on and advances new ways of thinking in educational technology. Drawing on literature, I offered a few examples to help the audience rethink how we relate to materials and objects. I also highlighted the implications of the NM approaches in the ed-tech field. These insights aren’t recommendations; they are just starting points for rethinking technology and learning practices when the divide between human and non-human ceases to exist, and new ways for knowing the self and the object interbeings emerge (Monforte, 2018). The following audio provides brief highlights about the production.
My health toolkit is an online interactive environment for the newcomer immigrant women who want to learn about health care system in BC and how to access healthcare services and resources independently; for women who feel isolated and want to join a community of like minded women. The artifact demonstrates my ability to enact a holistic view while developing digital tools. It is also a manifestation of a bottom-up participatory design (my partner was an educator in Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) aiming for different social formations and supporting our community (Both of us are immigrant women).
The presentation “New Materialism: Thinking Outside of the Fixed Bounded Frameworks” helped at personal level to understand NM fundamental concepts before using this perspective in “My Health Toolkit” project. I also presented this work in a series of development and training workshops aiming for encouraging environmentally sustainable practices in the technology sector and contributing to a future in which human and non-human breathe.
My Health Toolkit experience was an exceptional learning experience, perhaps because it involves me and represents our need as immigrant women for more inclusive resources and to replace the text-based (English) information resources prevailing today.
While completing this project, I also realized that our ideas (as teammates) were shaped by the materials used in our collaborative project. Working across two different time zones, two professional backgrounds, and two positions, we became entangled with technology as we shared documents and messages; discourse when we talked; materialities when we read on the computer and typed on the keyboard; and immaterialities when we met through Google Hangouts. This process of thinking-talking-typing-texting-cutting pasting-calling-editing infused mattering where person(s)-thing(s)-time zone-locations all became enmeshed. As Bruno Latour wrote:
I hope this simple prototype design can fill the health gaps for newly arrived immigrant women and insight other technologists building resources for the immigrant community (in collaboration with educators, settlement workers, and/or government agencies) to start attending to all matter acknowledged in posthumanism and the thing-power. Doing that may provide better access for women and other marginalized groups.