Sunday, 29 March 2015

Education, neoliberalism and utopia

Advanced technologies are being used more and more in education.  A random selection: moves to make computer usage a routine feature in the classroom; making texts available to students on e-readers and Kindles; the requirement in much of third-level education now for a lecturer to make vast amounts of course material available online; the rise of the 'MOOC' - the Massive Open Online Course being developed in America, in particular.

Not all of these developments are to the good.   Such is the entrenchment of the ideology of 'management' and 'accountability' that in many UK universities lecturers are now expected to mark online essays and assignments submitted online.  The submitted material is vetted online for plagiarism, but the efficiency and timekeeping of the marker in returning responses and grades are also logged.   Every aspect of university pedagogical activity is coming within the ambit of what we should acknowledge frankly as surveillance.

This form of control is also expressed also in the physical environment of the institution.  At least since the early 1970s, university campuses have been designed and planned to prevent or contain protest.  But matters of design or ergonomics work out at more modest levels too.  Here is Megan Erickson, on Jacobin:



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