FemEdTech emerged from an informal organisation of women in UK educational technology in 2016. Currently FemEdTech appears as a Twitter account @FemEdTech and a hashtag #FemEdTech. Its bio states “Feminist in edtech? Let’s grow FemEdTech network – hosted collaboratively by volunteers. DM to be involved.” In April 2018, discussion between Frances Bell, Helen Beetham and Maren Deepwell, led to a shared approach to curation of FemEdTech.
We were inspired by the approach of @IndigenousX Twitter account, established by Luke Pearson who wanted to extend his Twitter platform to include the voices and stories of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, each of whom tweets for one week. The IndigenousX account can “be seen as a form of citizen, participatory, community or alternative journalism” (Sweet, Dudgeon et al. 2013).
Corralling the intersection of feminism and education technology, with the possibility of input from curators from across the globe, could result in an unwieldy, ill-defined output. Yet, within less than a year of open curation @FemEdTech has slowly built, not only followers, but a substantial body of knowledge in this area. We aim to present what this collective curation tells us about the nature of the FemEdTech network, who we are and where our ideas and ideals converge or diverge.
However, we aren’t sure how FemEdTech participants regard themselves. Femedtech as a name suggests feminists (not just women) who work or are interested in education and technology. After an initial learning period in FemEdTech where we realised that those experiencing inequality in educational technology are unlikely to have much time for working for its elimination, we offered two week slots to volunteer curators, on the basis that the work associated with handover takes place 26 times a year rather than 52. Curators tweet as @FemEdTech and manage #FemEdTech and the associated gmail account. Sustainability is our watchword.
Maren Deepwell, CEO of Association for Learning Technology, who has included supporting FemEdTech as a practice within her successful Senior CMALT portfolio characterises the FemEdTech initiative as one that can “help us foster more criticality in Learning Technology by helping us create a more diverse, a more inclusive perspective and community. And this isn’t an effort that is relevant only to women or people of colour or any other group that fights for equality and against discrimination.”
While the network is still growing numerically and geographically from the UK to Ireland and Australia, we will consider the voices that are missing from @FemEdTech and what that means. As Tressie McMillan Cottom stated in her keynote to The Association for Learning Technology in September 2018, “Where and when we enter a conversation matters”.
Using @FemEdTech tweets as data, this presentation will present an analysis of the themes and connections emerging from @FemEdTech. This session will explore the context within which FemEdTech operates, and ask whether there is a way to open connections so that those currently on our periphery can contribute to these conversations or us to theirs.
Deepwell, M. (2018) Beyond Advocacy: Who shapes the future of Learning Technology, marendeepwell.com. Available at: https://marendeepwell.com/?p=1669 (Accessed: 28 November 2018).
McMillan Cottom, T. (2018), Keynote, ALT Annual Conference, 11th September 2018, Manchester, UK https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2018/sessions/keynote-tressie-macmillan-cottom/#gref (Accessed 29 November, 2018)
Sweet, M., Dudgeon, P. and Pearson, L. (2013) ‘@IndigenousX: A case study of community-led innovation in digital media’, Media International Australia, (149), pp. 104–111. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276207550_Indigenousx_A_Case_Study_of_Community-Led_Innovation_in_Digital_Media/download (Accessed 27 November, 2018).