Rethinking our relationships with EdTech in light of the fast-changing environmental and societal flux of our times is not a straight-forward task. As noted from the beginning of this book, the prospect of climate collapse and societal breakdown can understandably feel fundamentally beyond our full comprehension – existential threats that are too big to contemplate, let alone address. Against this background, anticipating ‘better EdTech’ for an age of possible climate crisis and societal instability is not simply a case of taking stock of the situation and coming up with a Plan B. These are not issues that can be boiled down to a few dot-points and three ‘take home messages’. Instead, this is likely to be a process of working out how to make something intelligible that is fundamentally unknowable, far bigger than us, and that threatens our entire sense of wellbeing.
Hannah Arendt described this sort of ‘understanding’ as a constant task of making the world (and the actions of the people within it) intelligible to ourselves. Confronting the enormity of something like climate change is profoundly destabilising – the prospect of complete climate breakdown renders the world as we know it unintelligible, and immediately unsettles our feeling of being at home. Indeed, most readers of this book may still consider the prospect of being unable to continue using digital technology due to environmental limits as far-fetched and overly-alarmist. Certainly, for all but the most dystopian observers, the prospect of climate-related mass destruction of human habitat and large-scale loss of human life still seems totally absurd.
Arendt wrote of developing these sorts of ‘understanding’ as an ongoing process of working to “reconcile ourselves to a world in which such things are possible at all” (Arendt 1994, p.308). Seen in this light, developing an adequate understanding around all the issues outlined in this book (climate crisis, post-capitalist transition) is not likely to be achieved simply by accumulating facts, developing knowledge, and then acting on that knowledge. Instead, this sense of understanding can be seen more as “an unending activity by which, in constant change and variation, we come to terms with and reconcile ourselves to reality, that is, try to be at home in the world” (Arendt 1994, pp.307-308).
All told, rethinking EdTech in light of the new realities of whatever the next few decades have in store requires us to accept that our previous comfortable understandings of ‘EdTech’ are no longer sufficient. In short, this book raises the uncomfortable (and perhaps unwelcome) challenge that the ‘EdTech’ that we have become accustomed is no longer fit for the world that we are now living in. Developing these new understandings is inevitably a process of ongoing reconciliation that we are all going to have to work on for a few more years to come.
Arendt, H. (1994). Essays in understanding (1930-1954). Harcourt Brace