The Imitation Game

Facial recognition to take class attendance! Machine learning to detect cheating on a test! Predictive analytics to decide admissions! Artificial intelligence for tutoring! Cheaper, faster, better. These products are being marketed hard by the companies that make them, and administrators are not only listening, but spending millions of dollars every year on products that, while having the semblance of effectiveness, usually reproduce systematic oppression. For example, facial recognition often can’t detect Black people and misgenders trans people, but that’s never in the brochure. Being knowledgeable in how these technologies are marketed, and especially how to critique them, are important skills.

In this workshop, we’ll explore some of the common rhetorical techniques companies who create ed tech use to sell their products. We’ll also cover how scholars who rightly critique those same technologies talk about them. Then, through an imaginative game, we’ll apply each set of techniques.

Afterwards, we’ll discuss how the game went, what ideas came up, what evidence was compelling, why certain accusations or defenses of our humanity fell flat, and how it all impacts how we talk about technology in education. You don’t have to have any prior knowledge of technology to participate. Please come prepared to be spontaneous, creative, make up stories on the fly, and be reflective about the process.

Workshop Leader

Shea Swauger
Shea Swauger is a Librarian and Head of the Researcher Support Services Department at the Auraria Library.
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