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Critical Digital Pedagogy in the Platform Society  

Earl Aguilera and Christina Salazar

The term “critical digital pedagogy” has been used to describe a broad range of approaches to teaching and learning rooted in critical theory, digital cultural studies, and the liberatory education promoted within schools of critical pedagogy since the 1960s. References to critical digital pedagogy began to appear in published scholarly literature in the early 2000s as a response to the expansion of neoliberal ideologies and policies in an age of proliferating digital and networked technologies. These shifts in technological, economic, and social organization have since become collectively described as the “platformization” of society, driven by processes such as datafication, commodification, and algorithmic selection. In response to concerns about the neoliberalization, dehumanization, and platformization of education specifically, the emergent field of critical digital pedagogy has coalesced into a community of educators, designers, and theorists with an international scope, though the majority of published scholarship originates from the United States and the European Union. While the approaches and methods that the proponents of critical digital pedagogy engage with are varied, three broad families of practice include critical instructional design, humanizing online teaching and learning, and digital ungrading. Following earlier traditions of critical pedagogy, practitioners in the field of critical digital pedagogy find themselves grappling with critiques of their approaches as overly politicized, ideologically driven, and pragmatically limited. Open issues in the field include the expanding role of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the role of political activism beyond the classroom, and the addressing of intersections between race, class, and other dimensions of identity within a critical framework.

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Education Research Beyond Cyborg Subjectivities  

Annette Gough and Noel Gough

The term “cyborg,” as a combination of “cybernetics” and “organism,” was coined by Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline in 1960 in a paper presented at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conference on space exploration as a representation of a particular challenge of space travel: physically adapting a human body to survive in a hostile environment rather than modifying the environment. Soon after, NASA commissioned “The Cyborg Study” to investigate the theoretical possibilities of incorporating life support–related technologies into future spacecraft design. From the beginning, cyborgs were seen as the realization of a transhumanist goal—liberating humans from the limitations of the body and its environment by means of mechanization. Outside of space exploration, the term “cyborg” has evolved to encompass an expansive mesh of the mythological, metaphorical, and technical. Initially mainly taken up by science fiction writers to create superhumans, the notion entered cultural studies in the 1980s, particularly through Donna Haraway’s feminist “cyborg manifesto,” which argues that we are all cyborgs. Since then, terminology has shifted, and cyborgs are more likely called “posthumans,” “more-than-humans,” “other-than-humans,” or “companion species.” Discussions of cyborg and posthuman subjectivities in educational research have taken two main directions. The first argues that with equipment like tablets, smartphones, and laptops, students and teachers are already cyborgs—hybrids of human and machine—accessing information, resources, networks, groups, personal relations, libraries, and mass media through the Internet. Other research has investigated how the construction of cyborg and posthuman subjectivities changes the relationships between humans and their surroundings, devising new social, ethical, and discursive ways of thinking and representation.

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Differentiated Instruction and Inclusive Schooling  

Diana Lawrence-Brown

Differentiated instruction encompasses a wide range of responsive pedagogies, including individualized types and levels of curricula, teaching methods, materials, and assessment strategies. It has at its roots the impetus for effective inclusive schooling, providing supports directly within general education classrooms for students with the full range of exceptionalities (both significant disabilities and giftedness) and other diverse educational characteristics such as cultural and linguistic background and socioeconomic status. To effectively include students with higher levels of need, comparable levels of supports follow the student from the special education setting to the general education classroom. This enriched level of support in the general education classroom benefits not only students with disabilities, but the class as a whole. The legal and ethical bases for inclusive schooling are connected with various civil rights movements (including race, disability, culture and language, gender); it can be viewed as a response to segregated schooling (and denial of schooling altogether). Schools frequently remove students when traditional educational programs fail, adding on separate programs rather than rectifying the existing system. Such special programs have been routinely promulgated without substantial evidence of their effectiveness over supportive general education classrooms (either for segregated students or for their unlabeled general education peers). Important aspects of differentiated instruction and inclusive schooling include multilevel instruction; authentic and culturally responsive curricula, methods, and assessment; universal design for learning; assistive and instructional technologies; positive behavioral supports; and a collaborative team approach to instructional decision-making and delivery. Differentiated instruction and effective inclusive schooling are vital for equitable access to educational opportunities, bringing more responsive curricula, methods, and perspectives to increasingly diverse classrooms and schools.