Technology Comprehension In-The-Making: Discipline-ing, Translating, Prototyping

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesis

Abstract

This dissertation in Science and Technology Studies (STS) examines the Danish Ministry of Education’s experiment, where, in the pursuit of making young people makers, not only users, of technology, and cultivating active participants in a digital democracy, a trial programme was launched to define, develop, trial, and evaluate a new, potentially mandatory, subject called ‘technology comprehension’ (teknologiforståelse) for the public school. This effort was both historical and politically consequential.
Concerned with the politics of how technology education is assembled (‘critical Tech-Ed’), STS, ethnographic methods, and critical reading strategies are used to examine the relations and work of researchers, experts, teachers, and consultants. As well as the effects thereof. The thesis aims to understand what comes to be understood as affording technology comprehension and how; as well as what forms of knowing are negotiated and handled in the making of technology comprehension. The dissertation’s papers conceptualise knowledge-making as work of ‘discipline-ing’, translating, and prototyping.
Discipline-ing is explored as an effect of the contents of the subject proposal for technology comprehension, which renders the world as digital building blocks that can be handled by the technologically educated person. Here, a technologically deterministic view dominates and limits how change and agency can be imagined. Translating is explored as the work of integrating design practice into technology comprehension learning, teaching, and subject matter development, as per the promise it is said to hold for ensuring the democratic and creative-constructive ideals of the public school. Translations of actors generate epistemic cultures, disciplinary canons, and perspectives on what constitutes good formative education, enacted, in particular, as a boundary between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’. Prototyping is explored through the proliferation of a prototyping culture, as pupils as well as teachers and subject matter developers engaged in prototyping and with prototypes. The capacity of prototyping is the handling of disparate social worlds, e.g. of epistemic uncertainty and of a ‘theory-practice divide’.
The thesis highlights the relationality of knowledge-making in the trial programme. It also argues: that it is necessary and possible to imagine alternative relations with digital technology than those that reproduce a digital reality; for engaging the affordances of a theory-practice divide in the public school to develop technology comprehension; that the trial programme puts not only technology comprehension to the test in terms of its future as a school subject, but also tests the social fabric of postdigital Denmark, as it makes actors articulate their alliances to certain knowledges and methods. Relations that STS and critical Tech-Ed studies should engage and intervene in to make just, sustainable, and accountable educational and civic futures.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages168
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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