ANT and mundane activities
How often, in the study of education, do we detail the mundane things and practices that govern our day-to-day interventions in the world.
According to actor-network theory ANT pedagogical and content knowledge are held together by a network of connections (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p.24). The act of knowing or competence —knowing in practice, doesn’t arise from either institutionalised practices nor the cognitive behaviours of individuals, it is an enactment.Fenwick and Edwards warn us that the danger would be to assume that knowledge resides in any one individual or organisation (2010, p26). Neither is knowledge universal or stable. It is the activities and interactions between these networks of connections which enable knowledge to be created, revised and a contributor to new knowledges in a state of perpetual dynamism. Further, ANT proposes that humans and nonhumans share equal status as they interact and effect each other to produce new knowledge, each are forces in their own right (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p.3). Bruno Latour, one of the early developers of ANT in the 1980s comments that in a laboratory “there is always a preconstructed universe”, one that reflects and restates itself (Latour, 1999, p.30). As Latour (1999) observed when he studied a botantist, geographer and pedologist in the field away from the laboratory, knowledge is produced in mundane activities, it is not neat like the text of neatly bound experiments (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p.24). Rather, it is the hard work of gathering samples, counting, labelling, making errors and encountering incidents which contribute to the real-world generation of knowledge through multiple activities (Latour, 1999; Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p.26).
Mundane activities of learning design
This leads me to reflect briefly on the pedagogy and knowledge content I might contribute to my practice as a learning designer. As a learning designer my contributions to pedagogy and knowledge are contributed in the mundane but essential activities of storyboarding, choosing graphic images, transcribing videos, meeting with academics, establishing and checking version control, quality reviewing a project site and logging change requests with the Production team. It is in the carrying out of these mundane activities that I may investigate a new practice, suggest a new way of carrying out a task, research a new educational design theorist or practice and share this pedagogy or knowledge. As these human and nonhuman networks and interaction take place new iterations of a course or storyboard or way of doings things emerge and contribute to the “unstable” nature of pedagogy and knowledge in learning design. It is the mundane activities which make up designing—prototyping, reviewing, proofing, testing and problem solving which provide opportunities to interact in networks through “multiple negotiations and performances” to reach a solution (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p.28).
Fenwick, T. & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. New York, NY: Routledge.
Latour, B. (1999). Pandora’s hope: Essays on the reality of science studies. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.