Dave White (@daveowhite) has a post about the term post-technical as opposed to post-digital. Now, I have to say I am not in with the post-digital crowd. I think that we should have some people obsessed with the technology (where has most of the technology come from?) and we should have people who can analyse it, and critique it, and say "Yes, this works in this situation because X" or "This is not useful as a learning technology". And I am unashamed about the concept of learning technologies. It is slightly unusual for me to advocate specialisms - by and large, I think we should aim to have more generalists in the population: people who can absorb information about a wide range of domains and synthesise new ideas, stepwise improvements or quantum leaps by making use of the similarities and differences they see. But any good programmer does this - gets inside the skin of the people they are writing for and works out what will work for them.
The human voice is a very powerful learning technology. We may have had the fortune to evolve it rather than design it, but at the end of the day, is there a huge difference? Writing, which has been designed (although with an element of evolution going on in there, to my mind) is also an incredibly powerful technology. It lets the dead talk to us. Paper is a hugely important learning technology. But post-technical is not the same as post-technology, so I digress slightly.
"Technical" is about having special or useful skills, it is about belonging to a subject area, and about being theoretical or abstract. OK, to be fair, it is not generally about all those things at once, they are optional meanings, but they do give an idea of the term. Those are all things society really rather needs. I don't think it would be a good idea to be post-technical because we haven't yet achieved being technical enough in many ways. If post-technical is similar to post-specialism, I have some sympathy for it; but if it is describing a system where people no longer have useful or special skills, or no longer explore the theoretical and abstract, I think we have a problem.
I also have to challenge the idea that technology cannot (or, perhaps, should not) drive pedagogy forward. If this were the case, presumably we should have resisted slates in the classroom for a lot longer.
The education system is a technology. It is a more-or-less scientific set of methods and things we use to achieve a population who have the skills necessary to keep the wheels of industry turning. Of course, we might argue that this essentially only serves a minority in said society, but that is the socio-political reality in which we have to live. From this perspective, post-digital would make more sense than post-technical for emphasising the importance of the 'wetware' in education.
But are we entering, or even seeking to enter, a post-digital world? I do not think so - technically (sorry), we have to think about the interactions of the systems. The digital technologies which have been coming so thick and fast are shaped by the people who use them. They people, and their cultural norms, are shaped by the new affordances provided by these same technologies. As I (with my co-authors) in Folksonomological Reification a form of Vygotsky's Activity Theory is required to understand the interactions. If anything, this is a very technical approach, but one which bears fruit, in my opinion.
The effects of Twitter, to take Dave's example, can almost be predicted if you consider the impact of enabling people to hold global conversations. When you think of academics taking up the technology, it seems natural that the ReTweet would be a necessary part of the system, as we like to cite our sources. And these citations are a necessary part of building trust within the community, which is a technical requirement for the system to work effectively.
I think, perhaps, if we use educational as a short hand for our existing educational systems, it almost makes more sense to view the phase we are entering as being post-educational. Informal, peer-led, life-long learning is being truly facilitated by the technologies at hand. All we need to do now is learn the skill sets necessary to exploit the technologies fully, and let the tech-obsessives get on and build us new toys to experiment with and build in to our personal learning environments letting us build, nurture and reap the benefits of our personal learning networks.
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