Thursday, August 20, 2020

Audrey Watters: Hack Education: Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech | National Education Policy Center

Hack Education: Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech | National Education Policy Center

Hack Education: Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech

These are the slides and transcript from my conversation this morning with Paul Prinsloo — a webinar sponsored by Contact North
Pardon me if I just rant a little. Pardon my language. Pardon my anger and my grief. Or don’t. Let us sit with our anger and our grief a little.
We are living in terrible, terrible times — a global pandemic, economic inequality exacerbated by economic depression, dramatic and worsening climate change, rampant police violence, and creeping fascism and ethno-nationalism. And in the midst of all this danger and uncertainty, we have to navigate both old institutions and practices — may of which are faltering under a regime of austerity and anti-expertise — and new(ish) technology corporations — many of which are more than happy to work with authoritarians and libertarians.
Education technology — as a field, an ideology — sits right at that overlap but appears to be mostly unwilling to recognize its role in the devastation. It prefers to be heralded as a savior. Too many of its advocates refuse to truly examine the ways in which ed-tech makes things worse or admit that the utopia they've long peddled has become a hellscape of exploitation and control for a great deal of the people laboring in, with, under its systems. 
Ed-tech may not be the solution; in fact, ed-tech may be the problem — or at the very least, a symptom of such.
Back in February — phew, remember February? — Jeffrey Moro, a PhD candidate in English at the University of Maryland, wrote a very astute blog post "Against Cop Shit" in the classroom.
"For the purposes of this post," Moro wrote, "I define 'cop shit' as 'any pedagogical technique or technology that presumes an adversarial relationship between students and teachers.' Here are some examples:
  • ed-tech that tracks our students' every move
  • plagiarism detection software
  • militant tardy or absence policies, particularly ones that involve embarrassing our students, e.g. locking them out of the classroom after class has begun
  • assignments that require copying out honor code statements
  • 'rigor,' 'grit,' and 'discipline'
  • any interface with actual cops, such as reporting students' immigration status to ICE and calling cops on students sitting in classrooms.
The title of this webinar is "Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech," but that's a bit of a misnomer as I'm less interested in either "building" or in "ed-tech." Before we build, we need to dismantle the surveillance ed-tech that already permeates our schools. And we need to dismantle the CONTINUE READING: Hack Education: Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech | National Education Policy Center