Contexts of teaching and learning: an actor-network view of the classroom

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Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching, 2009, 1, pp. 31 - 43
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Actor-network theory (ANT) is noc a learning theory as such, nor is it a pedagogy, but it is a theory of knowledge, agency and machines (Law 1992). In this chapter I will consider how this theoty may nevertheless inform our understanding of learning and teaching . It is an approach which aims to analyticaffy treat humans and non-humans equally. By non-humans, ANT thinks mainly of technologies or machi nes, but can also think of other forms of materiality, for example, 'natural' materials. However, the 'natural-social' (Nature-Society) distinction is one which ANT challenges in a thoroug h-going way. As a theory of knowledge, agency and machines, ANT is 'a relational and process-oriented sociology that treats agents, organizations, and devices as interactive effects' (Law 1992: 389). 'Interaction' is a pivoral issue in that it necessitates an understanding of process and an acknowledgement that effects (desirable and undesirable) take time and depend upon interactional sequences which must be studied closely to understand how they produce effects.
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