Block 1. Week 4. Learning: Slow thinking in non-networked spaces

This data visualisation aims to represent slow thinking in non-networked learning spaces. I’m imagining such spaces to be — roughly — spaces without ‘smart’ devices or learning platforms that gather data on students and that will support a slow thinking movement analogous to the slow food movement, with fewer distractions, and more learner autonomy and privacy. The visualisation is more pared down than this one to reflect these concerns.

The visualisation could be used to demonstrate how few non-networked spaces we have right now and how little time there is for extended reflections. Each snail-shape is inspired by this and represents a line of thought. A snail minus a head represents an interrupted thought. The dots represent the length of time spent thinking. I don’t disclose what I am thinking to highlight the significance of privacy — as Veliz [2020] argues, privacy is power — but I do show you where I am thinking.

The capacity, and opportunity, to carefully attend to, pursue, and sustain an extended line of thought is a significant dimension of learning. It’s not at all obvious that networked learning environments with constant notifications from online platforms like Twitter – ‘the most invasive attention capture apparatus yet invented’ [Wu, 2017:288] – accommodate this, even if they are fruitfully used for some learning events (‘Tweetorials’). Twitter also collects substantial amounts of data on users, meaning if Tweetorials are the way group activities are organised, students wanting to participate to interact with their peers don’t have a meaningful choice but to give up data (and privacy) to do so.  More generally, work by Tsai, Perotta, and Gasevic’s [2020: 562] suggests that when it comes to data practices in education, the lack of meaningful choice, and, ultimately, lack of meaningful and informed consent, diminishes learner autonomy.