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Resisting the Final Word: Challenging stale media and policy representations of students’ performative technological encounters in university education

Sarah Hayes, Aston University, Petar Jandrić, University of Applied Sciences, Zagreb

This article explores powerful, constraining representations of encounters between digital technologies and the bodies of students and teachers, using corpus-based Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). It discusses examples from a corpus of UK Higher Education (HE) policy documents, and considers how confronting such documents may strengthen arguments from educators against narrow representations of an automatically enhanced learning. Examples reveal that a promise of enhanced ‘student experience' through information and communication technologies internalizes the ideological constructs of technology and policy makers, to reinforce a primary logic of exchange value. The identified dominant discursive patterns are closely linked to the Californian ideology. By exposing these texts, they provide a form of ‘linguistic resistance' for educators to disrupt powerful processes that serve the interests of a neoliberal social imaginary. To mine this current crisis of education, the authors introduce productive links between a Networked Learning approach and a posthumanist perspective. The Networked Learning approach emphasises conscious choices between political alternatives, which in turn could help us reconsider ways we write about digital technologies in policy. Then, based on the works of Haraway, Hayles, and Wark, a posthumanist perspective places human digital learning encounters at the juncture of non-humans and politics. Connections between the Networked Learning approach and the posthumanist perspective are necessary in order to replace a discourse of (mis)representations with a more performative view towards the digital human body, which then becomes situated at the centre of teaching and learning. In practice, however, establishing these connections is much more complex than resorting to the typically straightforward common sense discourse encountered in the Critical Discourse Analysis, and this may yet limit practical applications of this research in policy making.

Networked Learning, Critical Discourse Analysis, CDA, student experience, digital human body, neoliberalism, posthumanism, performative, cyborg, cognisphere, Anthropocene

Full Paper - .pdf



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