edtech, education, hype, ICTs, modularity, OLPC, teaching machine, uncertainty, Venture Education
Contemporary expansions of public and private sector investments in new educational technology – or “Edtech” — initiatives have expanded globally via the promotion of interactive, educational information and communication technologies (ICTs) as universal solutions to problems in public education. From one-to-one student laptop and tablet programs to virtual platforms hosting massive open online courses, such edtech product solutions have been objects subject to cycles of hype and hope that are explored here as symptomatic of a growing digital age, market-driven orientation to education that can be called Venture Education. Yet contemporary edtech’s teaching technologies are far from the first devices framed as means of preparing populations for the znew information economy. This paper explores the historical silences and omissions of memory of past experiments in educational technology as symptomatic of a growing politics of modularity – one that is expressed through emergent state strategies adopted around the digital as means of both managing global populations and optimizing the cultivation of human capital, by enabling the rapid detachment of “buggy” system parts. Rather than emphasizing the enhancements of either production output or social order as primary benefits, modularity’s promoters stress an ability to enact rapid and even radical changes that dynamically respond to conditions of pitched external uncertainty in markets as its most essential advantages.