Teaching the Socio-Technical Practices of Tomorrow Today
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This chapter explores the challenges associated with teaching the principles of socio-technical systems in the dynamic climate that characterizes work in today’s—and tomorrow’s—world. Avoiding a “socio-technical gap” involves preparing the designers of tomorrow in such a way that they can anticipate society’s future needs and technology’s future potential and prospective peril. By way of a narrative that draws on the author’s own experiences teaching social informatics (SI) as part of an information studies degree program, this chapter discuss how her own research perspective in relation to socio-technical and social networking systems coevolves with the classroom experience. The case study offers examples of tutorial activities and assessments to illustrate how the suggested approach to teaching and learning can be applied in an STS classroom. Habits are useful but they can also be deadly. They are useful when the conditions in which they work are predictable and stable. But what happens if and when the bottom falls out of the stable social world in and for which we learn? Is it possible that learning itself—learning as we have come to enact it habitually—may no longer be particularly useful? Could it be that the very habits that have served us so well in stable times might actually become impediments to social success, even to social survival?
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