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Pedagogical assemblages and sociomaterial dynamics

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For years, educational research has been a decidedly anthropocentric project. Albeit helpful, it has focused squarely on students, teachers, and their mutual interactions. “Educational research is wholeheartedly humanist. It studies human practice”, as Estrid Sørensen has put it. COVID-19 and the ensuing pivot to online education, however, have forced researchers to broaden their scope and pay attention to the materiality of education.

Supplementing a traditional concern for human interaction (‘pedagogical relations’) with a posthumanist sensitivity to technological mediation (‘pedagogical assemblages’), the purpose of this talk is to discuss what happens when classroom interactions are moved online. While major organizations like UNESCO and WHO have welcomed this development toward more hybrid forms of education, teachers have been more skeptical. Not just due to obvious and predictable reasons like technical problems, but also because of other, more interesting phenomena.

More specifically, based on qualitative survey data from Danish university teachers, I discuss two challenges to the hybrid future of education: The problem of presence and the webcam-related tension between surveillance and care. Combined, these phenomena demonstrate that, while virtual and traditional teaching may be equally ‘real’ in a metaphysical sense, they also involve vastly different sociomaterial dynamics that we need to take into consideration before uncritically celebrating the hybrid future of education.

By deliberately focusing on such downsides of the virtual classroom, I not only seek to challenge overly grandiose imaginaries about the ‘making’ and designing of future education, but also hope to foster concern for fragile aspects of existing educational practice.
Original languageDanish
Publication year6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2022
EventPhilosophy of Human-Technology Relations - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 5 Jul 20227 Jul 2022


ConferencePhilosophy of Human-Technology Relations

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