BILETA 2017, Parallel session 2

by Paul Maharg on 21/04/2017

This session is titled ‘Technological challenges in educational contexts 1’.  A UK speaker didn’t turn up, so first up, Maria Joao Carapeto, doctoral student, with the intriguing title ‘Memory, peace, development, technology, innovation, interdisciplinary, education, Portuguese-speaking countries’.  She started with the idea of building peace in the Portuguese-speaking (lusophony) countries, eg Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Sao Tome, Cape Verde, etc.  This involves sovereignty, self-determination, the idea of a common history, language as a key factor of cohesion, solid community-sharing , common values and intercultural dialogue and convergence and positive action for peace.  Lusophony is a culture, but a feeling and sentiment too, according to Maria.  According to the UN education for peace should be a transformative project — transforming the effects of conflict, eg promoting knowledge and human rights knowledge in particular.  Education for peace is also a conflict-prevention strategy.

But in HE, most of the documentation for a course in law that promote all these values and qualities, are all in English, not in Portuguese, so there are problems for lusophonic areas of the world, which contain substantial populations, and which of course have their own dialects.  Here is where technology can be useful, and in particular the essential requirements are those of interactivity, usability and reliability.  Hence the idea of PaxLusofona:

This is important in the contexts of the Lusaka Agreements, 2002, in Angola; the first free elections in East Timor, 2001, and the celebration of the anniversary of the Mozambican Peace Agreement.

Second,  Anna Berti Suman, on ‘Connectivity for citizens’ education and awareness: the case of citizen science’.   Her project involved the daily connectivity in the Smart City, conceptualisation of citizen participation, theoretical frameworks, case studies and conclusions.  IoT powered connectivity shapes how citizens participate in the city’s life and governance, which could lead to more active citizenship; creates new opportunities for knowledge creation, and can contribute to new learning processes.  She cited researchers who noted that citizen participation is a categorical term for citizen power.  But what is ‘citizen science’?  It’s citizens actively contributing to science, creating a new scientific culture and new approaches to education.  She cited Castells’ theory of the complexity of society (1996), read through its reinterpretation by Fisher (‘Framing risk regulation: a critical reflection, 2017).  But to what extent is citizen participation really participatory?  Anna converged the theory of levels of citizen participation with the typical ladder (Arnstein) of participation-nonparticipation.  She cited the AiREAS project as a good example of citizen participation, which involves a combination of the data from the city’s monitoring air boxes with citizen health data.  Also cited the Sensornet project, which monitored the noise generated by Schipol airport.  The local community was dissatisified with official attempts to monitor noise levels, and did so themselves, very successfully.  There are YouTube videos for both projects.

There is of course a risk of the state/market’s intrusion into people’s private life through thousands of such devices in the city.  Are these breaches of citizen rights?  Achieving a genuine citizens’ participation in citizen science project is a complex goal.  Barriers to participation include those related to technical matters, societal issues, governmental, and market-related problems.  The model resulting from her citizen science project, she hopes, will guide both researchers and help citizens.  Citizen science can benefit citizens, through co-creation particularly.

We were a small audience, and perhaps as a result had a great discussion after the two presentations about a range of issues arising from them – the nature of language and colonialism, the nature of participation and how digital is affecting that.

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