Technology Learning Environments as Nonhumans: about delegating.

Our last telic session was very interesting and clarifying. Not only did we have two great presentations on this Bruno Latour paper, we also had to brainstorm in little groups on different items. One discussion was about this image, and how it relates to the Latour paper.

Interesting to me was how Danny en co. looked at this picture from the ‘delegating’ point of view. What do humans delegate to the nonhumans in this picture.We delegate force to the cranes. Without the cranes, putting together the iron framework would be very hard or even impossible. This delegating to nonhumans was an important idea in the Latour paper. An idea that I didn’t take up in my previous reflection on the Latour paper.

What is this ‘delegating’ all about?

In the Actor-network Theory objects are parts of social networks. Objects (Nonhumans) are equal participants in networks and systems. ANT is an approach that avoids polarisation of thought: no longer good vs bad, large vs  small, before and after etc. The theory is difficult to summarize. That is not my attempt here, but let’s look at one central concept of ‘delegation’ some more. For Latour delegation describes the reciprocal relationship between the social and the technical. In any situation in which technology is used, it is used to delegate a major effort into a minor effort. In turn, technologies delegate behaviour back onto the social.1

That’s really interesting to see. Take Google Apps for Education for example. We use it in our school quite extensively. How and what do we delegate to this environment? How is it used to delegate a major effort into a minor one?  And what  does it delegate back to us, to teacher’s behaviour?

One big success is the use of Google Plus Communities. It really helps to communicate effectively. Communication asks a major effort of humans, and GooglePlus communities make it easier.  The teachers delegate good communication to the GooglePlus technology. In return, we provide feedback more easily and more quickly. Especially through the different devices (GooglePlus app on android and iOS devices is great).

This makes the learning of students more effective. It also enhances the relationship with the students. So ‘trust’ (basic condition for learning, but quite a major effort) is being delegated to a more minor effort through Google Plus Communities.

Three examples of how a technology turns a major effort into a more minor one. I’m sure that there are a lot more to think about, but enough in this post, for now…

Thank you #telic1 community for clarifying this. A screenshot of my current community:

1. Cressman, D.  (2009) A Brief Overview of Actor-Network Theory: Punctualization, Heterogeneous

Engineering & Translation p. 10