The film signals its interest in human communication and relationships early on (hand-holding etc) and the desire for benign communication (cuddly toys). The imagery is quite simplistic, but its a simple film, and sweet.
Elements of fairy tale and magic realism, but most important is the sense of instant gratification being paramount to the correspondents – that produces an enormous amount of data to cope with (bed strewn with post its) – and the attendant danger of meaninglessness – throw away comments / smileys etc – is this real communication? Ultimately there is a reliance on the bag, which is where the dystopian/utopian opposition is really felt.
The bag itself is benign – its shiny surface, happy colour scheme – but the correspondents’ dependence makes it passively dangerous – they bestow power on it so that when it breaks, unhappiness and disjunction ensue. The ending signals the importance of human communication, breaking out of the box that they have allowed the bag to create for themselves. They were ‘in box’ ie boxed in by their dependence on the magic form of communication. To maintain their humanity they have to meet in person. E.M. Forster has a similar theme going in his short story “The Machine Stops”.
What sort of educational debate does this provoke? I guess the importance of human interaction in the learning process – lots of subtlety is missed through online/telephone communication – also a lot of spontaneity. In the film, it is only when they meet face to face that one suspects they are really going to know each other, and learn from and with each other.
The film makes no bones about which side of the utopian/dystopian debate it aligns itself with. In Hand and Sandywell’s (2002) terms, the film sees technology as anti-democratic, shovelling aside individuals. It also clearly involves high and low culture in its discourse.
The effects of the technology are desensitising and dehumanising (there are echoes of Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange in the violence on screen with a super-imposed happy soundtrack) – and no-one seems at all bothered about the casualties! The people are passive consumers for the most part (very like the girl and boy in InBox) – they have thin little arms which seem incapable of much – and although the tech becomes dysfunctional and toxic (gasmasks!), the people are dependent and worship.
The bit I liked the most was when one of the people goes back to the mountain (a little like Simon in Lord of the Flies, for whom there is nothing else to do but confront the horror). I thought he was going to challenge the techno-gods, by hurling his little rock, but in the end he simply buys in and brings on the next, more powerful and dangerous piece of tech. Technological determinism very much in evidence. The society is a direct product of its tech – unfeeling, desensitised and insignificant.
The Dalek image at the start of Chandler’s (2002) web-essay is highly relevant.
Chandler (2002) also defines a view of technology as ‘masculinist’. Although a product of a technology which can be described in such terms (tools must play a part in building computers), the web itself is, in structure and organisation and development, more organic
Chandler (2002) implies a highly negative view of technology from the outset by including the Dalek as an icon of the future. The machine is depicted as overcoming any positive human qualities of understanding, justice, compassion etcetera, as it seeks to impose its anti-humanistic control over the world/galaxy/universe.
Most people would recognise this as an extreme view of a technological future, and not necessarily valid except as a means of producing thrills in an audience. Does the icon have value as a term in our discourse?
@skarabrae_comm tweeted this link
The main premise of the article is that there has seldom been “a true paradigm shift. This isn’t surprising, considering that innovation, responsible risk-taking, and teacher leadership are rarely encouraged, valued, or supported in education.”
It goes on to argue that in order to achieve a paradigm shift for education in the C21, 3 major elements must be promoted:
1. A culture of learning
2. Teacher leadership
3. Technology and innovation
And here is a link to a very interesting graphical representation of what 21st Century Learning could look like.
Lorin Anderson’s revision of Bloom’s taxonomy for the cognitive domain.
In building digital learning paradigms, this framework will be helpful.
Maybe by collecting together some raw materials in this blog, I can clarify for myself some of the issues involved in e-learning.
Reading an interesting article about similarities between good examples of digital learning practice and Montessori style teaching. Carri Schneider gettingsmart.com identifies 5 similarities which link best practice in both these models of education. I’ll list them, for my own reference:
1. Individualised Learning Progressions
2. Progression not linked to chronological age
3. Formative assessment & immediate feedback (I prefer feedforward!)
4. Teacher as director of learning rather than instructor
5. Global perspectives
As a simple blueprint for an educational model, these five notions have a compelling rightness about them.