Blurred boundaries between identity and avatar: social representations of ICT in the community of Conceição das Crioulas

This work reports an experience in a developing community and aims to explore the significance and roles of ICT, through the theoretical lenses of social representations theory. The contact with the community of Conceição das Crioulas, a Quilombola/indigenous community located in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil, was possible through the integration of the action-research group “Identidades” [“Identities”], held by a group of researchers from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, Portugal, ongoing since 1996. The main purpose of integration within the research group was, the development of a community website, subsequently leading to education activities about how to maintain and support this website. The action-research field study is organized in three cycles. The first cycle comprised the teaching of a four days intensive course/workshop of web design focused on programming languages, HTML and CSS, among other ICT contents. The course was taught by one of the researchers during a field visit in July, 2017. The second cycle developed between December- March, 2018, consisting in the analysis of the feedback obtained (as the communication with the students was maintained) and allowed us to understand through field notes, semi-structured interviews and qualitative data regarding the use of these technologies, the scope of meanings being attributed to digital devices. The final cycle consists of the analysis of the collected data regarding the website maintenance and the difficulties that occurred. Problems arise from limitations concerning a lack of bandwidth speed infrastructure, research skills and research interests. The consensual universe that emerges from the objectification of the digital era into devices and platforms allows us to understand how social identity processes might be affected by the appropriation of (or resistance to) technology, as the boundaries between identity and avatar become more and more blurred. With this analysis we intend to review several predictions or prophecies of technological and social determinism, thus, exposing the limitations of ICT for development (ICT4D) but also urging us to analyse the challenges of ICT from developing alternative mindset. These problems denounce the myth of digital diversity, considering the access nearly every member of the community has to a digital device, and how its use is currently limited to recreational purposes. The participation in this research allows a reflection on the spread of ICT in the Western society usually perceived as an educational opportunity. Reflecting about the possible inequalities perpetuated by the digital culture, demands questioning the subjectivation processes that occur through these devices. Participating in a reality that challenges our biases related to the use of these devices, enables a series of questions about what are indeed the necessary skills to excel and teach in the 21st century, and what are the limitations of this, after all, not so participatory culture.

Keywords: ICT, education, social representations, digital literacy.

Event Title 10th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Comunication Title Blurred boundaries between identity and avatar: social representations of ICT in the community of Conceição das Crioulas
Date 2 of July of 2018
URL Link