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Fluid design as technology in practice - spatial description of online 3D virtual environment in primary school

Fluid Design als Technologie in der Anwendung - räumliche Beschreibungen einer virtuellen Online-3D-Umgebung für Grundschulen
[working paper]

Soerensen, Estrid

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Corporate Editor Technische Universität Berlin, Fak. VI Planen, Bauen, Umwelt, Institut für Soziologie Fachgebiet Techniksoziologie
Abstract This article explores the use of spatial metaphors inspired by 'After Actor-Network Theory' in describing technology in practice. The spatial metaphors are developed mainly by John Law and Annemarie Mol (Law & Mol 2001; Mol & Law 1994; Law 2002). Active Worlds is the technology to be described. It is an online 3D virtual environment application, which I have used in a research project with a Danish and Swedish 4th grade primary school class. Describing this design in spatial terms, I characterize it as a fluid design. This metaphor is developed to create sensitivity to the transformative and flexible qualities of technology. Indeed, it can be traced back to Foucault's attack on the 'castle of coherence' (Philo 2000), I argue. However, there are other ways technology is performed. I describe low-tech materials in classroom practices, and characterize them as regional. This is another spatial metaphor, which is useful to describe the stiff and immutable practice the classroom materials contribute to performing. I present two examples from my fieldwork, which show the limitations and problems with authority and knowledge arising as an effect of the confrontation of the fluid technology with the regional patterns of the school. I conclude the article by discussing the potentials of fluid design in a primary school practice to suggest changes in forms of authority and knowledge, just like I argue for the potentials of spatial metaphors for describing technology as it emerges as a dispersed effect in practice.
Keywords electronic learning; virtualization; internet community; virtual reality; authority; Sweden; Denmark; primary education; primary school; zone; Internet; technical development; knowledge
Classification Sociology of Science, Sociology of Technology, Research on Science and Technology; Interactive, electronic Media
Method qualitative empirical
Free Keywords technology in practice; fluid design; onlin 3D virtual environment; primary school; spatiality; authority
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
City Berlin
Page/Pages 16 p.
Series TUTS - Working Papers, 2-2005
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence