Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Tech Distribution

Last week at Worldchanging, Alex Steffen posted a few links to InterConnection, an organization actively improving technology access.  By no means am I an access expert.  I am, nevertheless, familiar with some of the commonplace arguments: if we (teachers/scholars) privilege particular forms of knowing and performing, we must take stock of the factors affecting widespread, democratic access to the apparatuses/devices that make such forms of knowing and performing possible.  Put on the brakes...tap them gently.  Or abandon.  Give it the ol' Luddite hammer. Drive it off a cliff.  Without being curt, this is, more or less, a usual way of taking up questions of access. 

Unfortunately, because access pre-conditions everything we might do with technologies and particularly electronic devices (no access means no next step, right?  Anybody have a pen to lend?) access rationale often curb whatever might follow.  And that's a problem.  I can't think of anyone who would say we should *not* be cognizant of access issues, but I can think of arguments I've heard that until access is corrected, we must withstand pushing technology's ends, exploring limits, developing pedagogies around them, etc.  I tend to disagree with the || pause || model for addressing access limitations.  For this reason, I'm always watching (passive, huh?) for actual practical change--organized resolution--toward correcting the distribution of, access to and training toward uses of electronic technology.  Too often, I think I stop short (in our interchanges on access) of seriously taking up what must happen to change who gets to use computers and how such uses are prefigured by material privilege.  But InterConnection seems to be doing something about it--a good enough reason for me to circulate links to them. 

From another entry at Worldchanging, this link to community-centered sites/projects.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at January 26, 2005 1:36 PM to Technologies

Thanks for this. The issue of access has been heavy on my heart (eww, I know, but really) since I had to read Selfe as an MA student. Yes, people can't afford computers, connections, etc. Yes, they don't have transport to the libraries. What can I do about it? What's the point of talking about it unless someone has some ideas?

So I haven't followed your link yet, but I will; mostly because I need readings for my activist scholarship exam, and THIS is the sort of activism I'm talking about: getting things together to reach OUT from the university INTO the realm of non-access and, somehow, GIVING access.


What did you say about comments being posts? :)

Posted by: madeline at January 26, 2005 6:54 PM

You're raising an issue that is central to a lot of discussion going on in distance and online education right now.

I was in a meeting recently in which some hired hack was talking about "diversity" in the online classroom. I wondered a lot about the access issue and thought seriously about throwing it out there. Alas, I wussed out (hey, my boss and my boss's boss were there too).

But we did mention this briefly in a mini-seminar last semester -- access as another form of diversity to be considered, particularly by the academy.

Posted by: mike at January 26, 2005 10:02 PM

Glad to share the links, Madeline. I can't say I've looked very hard for other examples of access-changers in action (picked this up through the Bloglines acct), but I have been frustrated that bringing up access as a critical question often only results in bringing up access as a critical question. And so I continue to be impressed by the vexing relationship between activism and technology. We read Selfe's _Paying Attention_ book last semester, and, while it offers a really solid discussion of policy formations and the relationship between technological literacy and the sites of the home and school, it left me wondering what we might *do* about access. Is it enough just to care about it?

I think you're right, Mike, that it gets a lot of play in DL circles, and I always found it troubling to hear folks going on at length about 508 compliance, then (without pause) give a run-down of all the "multiple literacies" variations they need in the online course shell. I'm definitely interested in more productive conversations about access; figured InterConnection was a good place to begin.

Posted by: Derek at January 26, 2005 10:30 PM