A cultural studies analysis of Logo in education
Education does not take place in a vacuum, it is a terrain where conflicting ideologies compete and relations of power are inscribed. Despite, however, the accumulation of studies illustrating the social and political nature of schooling, sociological work concerned with educational computing is in short supply; with few exceptions, sociologists of education have not directly addressed educational computing. The development of IT in education in the last two decades has been largely uncritical and the field has been dominated by technocentric approaches. This thesis is an effort to develop a sociological language for understanding educational computing and suggests that the introduction and use of IT in education should be situated within its social, political and cultural context. Appropriating ideas from the sociology of education, sociology of technology and cultural studies, the thesis uses a cultural circuit analysis of Logo progran1I11ing language as a case-study in the sociology of culture in order to illustrate some of the ways in which the introduction of new technologies in education may interplay with the maintenance and/or transformation of existing power relations. The first part of the thesis raises questions that strive to situate technological products -and particularly computers in education- within a sociological paradigm. It establishes four main arguments that run through the whole study: • that most existing accounts of IT in education are inadequate; • that sociology of education and cultural studies can -and should- add to our social perspectives on the use of IT in education; • that technological artefacts used in education are socially constructed and can be analysed in terms of a "circuit of cultural production"; • that we could demonstrate the utility of such a model by running it through the development and implementation of a major IT phenomenon, that is Logo. In the second part of the thesis, analysis is divided in five parts (five analytically distinct "moments"). Through reconstructed accounts of participants and secondary sources, analysis of "moment" 1 (production) demonstrates the contingent and unstable nature of Logo as constantly changing and developing technology in the context of the decision-making processes. Analysis of "moment" 2 (text) discusses Logo as a "text", its "philosophy" for education, and the embodiment of its epistemological principles in the technical design of the language. Analysis of "moment" 3 (marketing/economics) discusses the role of marketing, politics, and economics in the development and evolution of Logo; it illustrates that the activities of mediators like government departments and the microcomputer industrial lobby were crucial to the modification and redevelopment of Logo beyond the context of its initial development. Analysis of "moment" 4 (context) situates the introduction of Logo to mainstream schools within its social and political context suggesting that the disintegration of "progressive" education largely constituted the context for the "decline" of Logo during the process of restructuring of formal education in the late 1970s and 1980s. Against this background, analysis of "moment" 5 (consumption) discusses the ways in which Logo was received in the educational arena and was implicated in the politics of educational innovation, looking into the place that Logo occupied within the institutional and organisational cultures of mainstream schools. Finally, based on the discussion of Logo as a case-study and the findings thereof, the thesis summarises the main analytic and methodological messages and points to directions for further research.