Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
In his 2011 article "Florida Reformers Got It Right," William Mattox uses his son Richard as an example of the benefits of hybrid education, or blended learning, which allows students to combine traditional classroom-based instruction with online schooling. Mattox only briefly praises the benefits of his son's opportunity for customized instruction, and he never tells his reader about the types of classes his son took, or how those classes helped his son reach greater achievements in co llege. Instead, he focuses his attention and (and about half his word count) on the network of acquaintances his son was able to develop by choosing a hybrid schooling option, in tum celebrating how those social relationships helped his son succeed in a voter-based talent contest, where the person with the most "likes" wins the award. Hybrid schooling might provide an excellent, customized education for its students, but its more significant feature, according to Mattox, seems to be the way it allows students to create a network where they can tap into a diverse group of markets to leverage the value of their personalities to become successful. While the hybrid schooling experience of Richard Maddox is not typical of most students, the importance of one's personal network and popularity as a form of social currency are typical of students in contemporary classrooms.
Students in school today are learning much more than the standard reading, writing, and arithmetic, and they are learning it in different ways. Gone are the days of the distinct public and private spheres where school, work, and home were each given clearly defined spaces. Since the early 1990s, the home has been increasingly intruded upon as technological innovation and the continued growth of the internet have allowed employees and students to work from places other than the office or school (most notably, the home), redefining not only the location, but also the time of work. Work does not need to end at five o'clock, or school at 3:30, because employees and students can complete their work at whatever time is most appropriate to them.
Now, more than twenty years after these mobile technologies began their assault on the home, the insulated and separate spheres of home, work, and school are almost completely obliterated. Gilles Deleuze predicted this breakdown in his 1995 "Postscript on Control Societies" in which he asserted that we would welcome the "ultrarapid forms of free-floating control" (178) that have developed to replace those clearly defined spaces. One-to-one programs and instructional models which put a computer or tablet in the hands of every child in a classroom are radically changing the fundamental structures of pedagogy and the roles of educators and students alike in twenty-first century classrooms. These classrooms not only reveal a shift in the way knowledge is transferred and acquired, they reveal a complete transformation in the society for which those pupils are being prepared. The specific closed spaces of Michel Foucault's disciplinary society, each with its individual rules and roles, have evolved into one of greater openness. The shift from the classroom as a closed space to an open, networked place replicates this shift in the larger society of global capitalism. These changes seem to indicate a freer environment that requires less work from the teacher and less concentration from the students, but it actually creates a more controlled environment where more is required of both teachers and students inside of the classroom and out. However, though these increased requirements are perhaps the most obvious outcome of this shift, they are not the only outcome. More significantly, this emerging system of education allows for the development of a new type of student--one who accepts that the creation of her subjectivity is not limited to the classroom, and who actually becomes involved in the formation of that subjectivity through her conflated roles as consumer and producer. Technology is not just opening the classroom. It is repurposing the classroom so that the students' personalities and subjectivities become subsumed in the process of education in preparation for their adult professional lives.
Nolan, Sarah, "Blended Learning, Blended Lives: School One-to-One Programs, Control Societies, and Late Capitalist Subjectivity" (2015). Graduate Thesis Collection. 269.