The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems…
Ethan Zuckerman
36040

I was toying with an idea and then read Jillian C. York’s question which encouraged me to comment. To answer her, I suspect that many white men of a certain mindset just assume they can come up with simple technological/managerial solutions to complex problems because theoretical efficiency matters more than what happens to the people on the receiving end. In other words, other human beings are abstractions to these “problem solvers” whereas their interests, convenience, fears, etc. are real to them.

Not being one of them, I’m only too aware my solution may not work well in practice for the teachers and learners, but I’ll risk being irrelevant. What I think might be helpful is to put together a sort of diversity panel – volunteers of mixed ages, cultural backgrounds, income levels, etc. – who could provide feedback and ask questions about proposed solutions. University classes in STEM subjects tend to skew young, male, able-bodied, and relatively affluent. Humanity doesn’t, so a wider range of input might be useful. Especially if the problem under consideration isn’t one the students are likely to know much about.

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