Infrastructuring sustainable innovations in education: A quick update

By Bodong Chen in publications

April 7, 2024

I am excited about the emerging body of work on infrastructuring in the Learning Sciences and beyond. In this post I am sharing a few quick updates on this topic.

New JLS paper on infrastructuring

A paper titled A framework for infrastructuring sustainable innovations in education is published online in the Journal of the Learning Sciences. This paper was inspired by many and has been in the works since 2022. I have received amazingly thoughtful feedback from anonymous JLS reviewers, as well as several colleagues I collaborate with on this topic.

Below is a tweet with links to the journal and an open-access pre-print.

AERA session on infrastructuring

Many colleagues are presenting in the upcoming AERA 2024 Structured Poster Session, titled Advancing Understanding of Infrastructuring in the Learning Sciences, on Sun, April 14. This session is organized by Ronni Hayden and Ricarose Roque from CU Boulder. Below is this session’s abstract:

In this session, we attend to how power and equity are embedded in the infrastructures that support learning environments, as well as the processes by which these infrastructures are (re)designed and maintained (i.e., infrastructuring). Cutting across formal and informal contexts, this structured poster session brings together learning scholars focusing on infrastructure with the goal of more deeply understanding the roles these practices, structures, and processes play in either reifying or dismantling systems of oppression in education. Addressing methodological, epistemological, and axiological questions of infrastructure can result in both theoretical and methodological advancements for equitable learning and design taking place in complex learning ecosystems.

It would be fitting to mention an AERA 2018 Presidential Session, titled Evolving Knowledge Infrastructures in Education: Engaging Diversity, Illuminating Inequities, and Imagining Possible Futures, which gathered a distinguished panel to discuss three important questions about “knowledge infrastructures” (KIs): (1) How are KIs changing? (2) How do KIs reinforce or redistribute authority, influence, and power? (3) How can we best study, know, and imagine today’s (and tomorrow’s) KIs?

There was an interesting discussion at the end of the panel about the transition to new KIs (see Youtube recording). These questions are even more relevant today and hope this year’s session will lead to more discussions and inspire future work.

GenAI and knowledge infrastructures in education

To me, knowledge infrastructures in education cover at least two areas:

  1. Infrastructure for day-to-day educational activities
  2. Infrastructure for knowing whether activities are effective

Both areas are impacted by the continual development and deployment of generative AI (GenAI).

The infrastructure perspective is especially critical, as it shifts the attention from technological capabilities to relational properties of infrastructure.

To me, educational institutions should not blindly outsource the shaping of fundamental relationships in education (e.g., teacher-student, student-knowledge) to tech products. Previous and recent work has covered tremendous work – especially by educators – to make an innovation work. It will be dangerous to overemphasize technological capabilities of GenAI while not including educators in the solution.

Infrastructuring—discussed in my JLS paper and the AERA session—would be a promising approach to grapple with the transformation facing education and, specifically, the re-making of a new generation of AI-infused knowledge infrastructures.

Posted on:
April 7, 2024
3 minute read, 556 words
methodology infrastructure
See Also:
Let's complicate the idea of infrastructure in conversations about GenAI
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