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Generation CX?

Ross Priory, Scotland (apparently this is also where Rob Roy was written).
The last ICE 3 speaker for today is John Cook. He describes the cultural emergence of 'Generation CX' (rather than Gens C or X, presumably), but notes that even Generation X hasn't been particularly well (or uniformly) defined as yet. The term emerged first in 1964, and was famously revived by Douglas Coupland in the 1990s, now referring to those born between 1960 and 1965 and feeling no connection to the cultural icons of the baby boom generation. A yet later, grunge Generation X was defined by songs such as Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit".

Today, however, we're seeing the emergence of a new term, Generation C, as those who seamlessly integrate online and offline environments and are active content producers in such spaces - especially through mash-ups (much of what I'd describe as produsage). Beyond this, however, John suggests a Generation CX (for 'context'), linking technology and the social situations of its use (or technology-in-use-in-social-situations, following Bakardjieva). The problem then is that such techologies continue to be developed without much participation of the eventual users of these spaces, however.

A social construction of technology (SCOT) approach provides a framework where technologies emerge through a negotiation between different social groups; eventually, from such initial possibilities, however, certain dominant uses tend to emerge and close down other opportunities. Additionally, various social groups are (sometimes deliberately) excluded from the development process, which opens the SCOT framework to criticism.

In an educational context, then, it is important to include the learners' voices in the design process for technology-supported learning spaces to avoid such problems. In language, this corresponds to working with lived and living utterances rather than dictionary definitions, essentially - we populate words with our own intentions and atrributions, thereby expressing our own meanings. Online technology, then, should be treated as a technology of speech, and its tools are already steeped in the achievements of earlier users; by appropriating them to our own uses, we actively select, appropriate and implement them to the context of our own use genres.

What, then, are learner use genres, or mobile learner-generated contexts which emerge from uses of current learning technologies? John worked on a case study using mobile smartphones, and found that learners especially at the early stages were experimenting with and in fact inventing use possibilities, that is, generating contexts of use and going beyond presently existing examples of possible behaviour - pursuing the what-if.

This, then, is also spanning the informal/formal learning divide, and raises the wider issues of also including tutors as active generators of user-generated contexts. Does this disrupt the processes of formal education, though, and how can this be addressed?

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