Participant authority

I have just returned from a MITIE (Managers of IT in Education) conference where the keynote speaker, Mark Pesce, talked about implications of hyperconnectivity for schools, exhorting teachers and technologists to “Just Say Yes” to Web 2.0. I discussed this with many of the audience later.

One consultant who is currently neither a teacher nor IT Manager (although he had worked in both roles prior to Web 2.0) echoed Pesce’s agenda.

However, a number of teachers (without exception and in considerable detail) said his description of the classroom and discourse was wrong. “He hasn’t been in an Australian classroom lately – if ever.”

IT Managers (I found no exception) similarly rejected his interpretation of the decision process in schools. Pesce claimed that Principals are welcoming of disruptive change but are restrained by fearful IT Managers, but those I spoke with reported that their Principals seem completely bound by their obligation to maximise HSC scores and University admissions.

I saw three categories of rejection of Pesce’s agenda.

  1. Over-generalisation: a need to investigate the range of difference between members of a group.
  2. Incorrect attributions: a need to explore the participants’ beliefs, attitudes related to their actions.
  3. Ownership: a need to engage the “subjects” of research in reflection on “findings”.

(I am aware of the irony of writing this without putting it to a reference group.)

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