I thoroughly enjoyed the ICEM/CARDET conference in Nicosia (Cyprus) which was on the theme of “design thinking”. I met up with some interesting activists in the area of digital media and its place in educational research, and am particularly excited about writing opportunities for the Ed Media International journal and supporting ICEM’s many initiatives.
My presentation was well-received, although I would have liked to have rounded off by thrashing out how exactly a sociomaterial approach to digital literacies can support the ‘design thinking’ process. Suffice it to say that my research is partly about exploring the richness of learners’ vernacular digital literacy practices and how these can flow, or ‘translate’ (Latour, ‘re-assmbling the social’), themselves into classrooms. Actor-network theorists view translation as causing “mixtures between entirely new types of beings, hybrids, of nature and culture” (Latour, ‘we have never been modern’: p.10).
Counter to this are attempts to stabilise or purify a context which can be through the formulation and implementation of standards which purify what we know to be digital literacy and how we define who is digitally literate. More explicitly, purification is enacted through the value attached to, for example, essay writing over texting, and textbooks over e-books. Purification, therefore, is about attempts to exclude those digital literacy practices which are not considered standard and in doing so lead to contexts deemed “black-boxed” (Latour, ‘science in action’).
Effective design thinking solutions could entail supporting students in making such translations in classroom activities, and by the looks of it, when left to their own devices (pun intended) they may already be doing just that!
I’m really looking forward to next year in Singapore.