STS-informed STEPWISE Education
Although much science & technology education is informed by products (e.g., laws & theories) generated by scientists & engineers and related professionals, there has been much support – and, arguably, increasing needs – for education informed by professionals who study work of scientists & engineers and related workers. Such researchers work in Science & Technology Studies (STS), scholars – mainly working in universities – who investigate characteristics of science & technology (and related fields), often drawing from fields like history, philosophy, sociology, economics, politics, etc.
Research in Science & Technology Studies is vast, covering myriad aspects of science & technology. Science & technology educators have, for many years, used findings from STS to inform pedagogy – such as to teach aspects of nature of science (NoS), such as possible distinctions between laws and theories (here). Our resources take a relatively narrow ‘slice’ of STS research to inform STEPWISE-informed science & technology education. We focus, essentially, on what STS may teach us about influences of powerful actants (e.g., corporations) on fields of science & technology (and, we believe, on most other actants) and, in turn, societies & environments – as reflected in our summaries of STSE Harms. Accordingly, we also emphasize STS research to inform RiNA Projects.
A major concept that has been studied by STS scholars prosumption; that is, different kinds of ‘production’ associated with consumption of for-profit items. The video at right/below is meant to provide teachers with an overview of this concept. Teachers may or may not choose to show it to students. This video is accompanied by a 1-page summary of prosumption, here. The sets of videos below are meant to teach students about prosumption – through Input, followed by student Application, in two cases.
Prosumption – Teacher Input & Student Application Activities #1
The teacher input video explains prosumption, using examples from everyday life, some possible types of problematic prosumption and apparent harms to individuals, society and environment. Using wearable tracking devices as an example, the students’ application video includes resources and activities that will allow students to apply, test and expand what they have learned about nature and problems of prosumption.
Prosumption – Teacher Input & Student Application Activities #2
This second teacher input video focuses on prosumption-related STSE relationships (including different types of stakeholders), importance of research, and possible types of personal and social actions to address prosumption related problems. It also shows examples of sustainable prosumption. The students’ application video continues to focus on uses wearable tracking devices and digital surveillance to engage students in activities to apply their learning.
As discussed in the video at right (below on phones), we often take for granted (think it is ‘normal’) certain thoughts & actions – such assuming it is OK for many or most people to communicate with others via ‘smart’ phones. Reasons for this are complex, but a popular idea is that living & non-living things – including people & technologies – are connected to each other, linked by common values like: being independent; always seeking something new; not worrying about less fortunate people. These connections among things & values, etc. are called sociotechnical imaginaries – because they limit and/or enable what we can imagine for future living.
Teaching About Sociotechnical Imaginaries
The video at right/below can be used by teachers to teach students about sociotechnical imaginaries (SIs). Because of problems with discovery learning, particularly for concepts like SIs, this teaching should be relatively teacher-directed & closed-ended – to ensure all students have equal opportunities to learn about it and to think about how SIs may be useful for design & conduct of RiNA projects. These lessons, though, should be matched with application activities. After students view (and, perhaps, review) the video, they could be asked to answer some analysis & synthesis questions. The videos below also provide some application activities after Input about topics related to SIs.