In Clare Thomson’s brilliantly-conceived workshop at OER23, I picked from the assorted repurposed materials and assembled them into my response to the edtech rewilding prompts. Abundance was a word which crept up during the conference and while, yes we have abundance in the open education space, other abundances do not feel so positive. For one, abundance is often sold to us within capitalist spaces as ‘choice’ where we are left so overwhelmed that we have no choice but to part with our money. Abundance is also our lives lived with and through a constant flow of objects with decreasing meaning and value. My childhood moments of pure joy were often mediated through objects – an amazing birthday cake, an unbelievably magical Christmas tree ornament, my first pair of jeans – but those moments now are increasingly rare for me and in the last 10 years I think it is only bicycles that have transported me in the same way (pun intended), even though I probably have owned and touched more stuff in the past decade. So I did not gather the materials for my patch with any intent to what it should mean or look like in the end, my intention was the process. I knew I wanted to sew and I knew I wanted to use the embroidery threads found in my mother’s sewing basket which probably dated back to a time 20 years ago before she was loosing her sight. I picked purple thread and added some beads, cut out a planet, chopped some materials and attached pipe cleaner, sticking a final heart bead onto its end. It was all a bit random.
Macgilchrist (2021) speaks about hospicing education technologies before they expire – using them until they run out. I try to do this – I open up my devices to keep them going with new parts and install different operating systems when the original is no longer supported. We don’t talk about this in institutions enough though as it is only when we decelerate at scale will it really have an impact. And maybe, to be frank, it can feel like some of the education technologies we use to run the main business of education on already feel like they are on life support. We are running terminal windows, in every sense.
So these little bits and pieces I assembled onto my patch were being hospiced – rescued from the bin from my next clear out and turned not so much into a product but a process. We can do this more: work with the pieces we have around us to make something new which allows for pausing, thinking, and that beautiful thing which happened in the room during this workshop – the natural sharing of stories and joy through conversation. Just because we are living through cycles of extinction, it does not mean we cannot exert our agency and voices, even when the scale can feel overwhelming.