As part of my current learning about social and technological change in relation to education I am developing an understanding of the following concepts:
Technological determinism – The belief that technology is leading change in society. Claiming that technologies have inevitable and predetermined effects on people and social processes. Marketing campaigns and the media often seek to persuade people that a product or technology is essential in itself and will lead to a required outcome.
Neil Selwyn and Keri Facer (2013) discuss the ‘the technologically determinist perspective that “social progress is driven by technological innovation, which in turn follows an ‘inevitable’ course” (Smith, 1994,p.38) in their book The Politics of Education & Technology.
Social determinism – Claims that technologies are irrelevant and are merely tools for society to use.
What is Sociotechnical change and what needs to be considered when we seek to conduct sociotechnical analysis?
Technology and society influence each other. They can be described as co-constituted or a mutual shaping approach. They are intertwined.
Ben Williamson (2016) explains that
‘technologies are socially. politically and economically produced, and also socially, politically and economically productive’
Sociotechnical analysis avoids technological determinism and instead focuses on the practices and activities around technologies, the meanings that people attach to technologies and the social relations and structures that technologies come from and continue to develop.
In beginning to think about ‘sociotechnical change’ I have begun to think about the use of mobile phones as digital devices in schools. Until recently the use of mobile phones in many schools was prohibited by teaching staff and pupils. However, times are changing rapidly. I currently teach in a large primary school and staff are now encouraged to use their mobile phones to share their pupils learning with all stakeholders via twitter. Teaching staff share pupils learning and also engage in reflection and learning through sharing thoughts, reading, blogs and images of learning environments via edutwitter. I have also experienced interactive apps that can support engagement and interaction in the classroom such as padlet and mentimeter. The poster created below shares some of my initial thoughts around the positives and negatives of using mobile phones as digtal technology devices in school by both staff and pupils.