As learners deepen their experiences in the digital age, technology becomes less an external apparatus, and, more of a systematic network of communication. In education, and beyond, it is constantly present in learners lives on a spectrum from seamless integration to effortful (and often inaccessible) steps that require instructional scaffolding. Like a system of language, one’s depth of immersion increases one’s fluency. Technology is a form of mobility. Technology is a passport of cultural and political power. With this in mind it becomes necessary, as educators, to not only develop technical skill, but to become flexible and fluent code-switchers in the multiple voices and registers of technology in order to relate to the social-code in which our students communicate as well as to support our students with sophisticated forms of determining the nuance of their technology-based communication as they navigate digital media with critical literacy.
In “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century,” feminist scholar Donna Haraway extends the notion of cyborgs outside of the realm of science fiction imagination into a modernist ontology that gives rise to the possibility of political transgressiveness through the ideological image of the cyborg. She writes, “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction (1994, p. 117).” Haraway’s argument is sophisticated and complex in its contention that human creativity, through technology creates a liminal space of cultural production and political transgression. She writes that technology in this vein is an “argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries” as she simultaneously asserts that such pleasures require a “responsibility in [their] construction” (119).
My work as a Speech-Language Pathologist with a certificate in Alternative and Augmentative Communication and Autism Spectrum Disorders provides me with a unique opportunity to work with students whose primary mode of communication requires various forms of technology ranging from “soft tech” to “high tech.” Supporting students who utilize such technology to engage in meaningful relationships both inside and outside of the classroom requires ongoing analysis of culture and technology in order to support naturalizing different forms of communication into the world of “typical communicators” - that is, “verbal” communicators. What Haraway offers to this opportunity of praxis is a theoretical frame through which to consider human-machine hybridity as constantly occurring and inevitable. It provides a political opportunity for analogical thinking to destigmatize students who have atypical forms of communication by honoring the creative possibility of where creativity, technology, and communication meet in the axis of alternative and augmentative forms of language.