Photo Essay. Teaching Innovation Studies at the University of East London in the 1990s

Description

I was invited by the editors of ESTS to prepare some additional material to accompany my short article called 'A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies'. This generous invitation provided me with the opportunity to excavate a number of old box files containing teaching materials from the 1990s. I spent several happy hours, remembering colleagues, students and teaching spaces from that decade. What follows is a small selection of teaching materials I used when teaching innovation studies and STS to first year bachelor students at the University of East London (UEL). The course was called “Innovation, Technology & Culture”. It was compulsory for all of the students following the “New Technology” degrees. Included on the following pages are the aims and objectives of course, lecture and seminar schedules, and examples of seminars, lectures and assessment. Along the way, I point to some of the material features of teaching pre-Internet, pre-PowerPoint, pre-beamers. I used chalk, overhead sheets (sometimes hand-drawn), and my lecture notes were sometimes produced using a dot matrix printer.

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Introduction. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

What follows is a small selection of teaching materials I used when teaching innovation studies and STS to first year students at the University of East London (UEL). The course was called “Innovation, Technology & Culture”. It was compulsory for all of the students following the “New Technology” degrees. Included on the following pages are the aims and objectives, lecture and seminar schedules, examples of seminars, lectures and assessment. Along the way, I point to some of the material features of teaching pre-Internet. More context for this material can be found in my article “A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies” [ADD LINK].

 

Introduction. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

Acknowledgements

I learned a great deal about teaching during my years at UEL. The material in the following pages was in part produced by me, but much was produced by others before I joined UEL. The original course was designed by David Albury, Tony Hargreaves and Alvaro de Miranda. I had the pleasure of working with all of them on this course, as well as with Flis Henwood and Gavin Poynter. I am grateful to them all.

Course handbook covers. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

These are the covers for the same course, one from 1992/93 and the other from 1999/2000. By the turn of the millennium we had coloured paper and binding. But we didn’t have a logo on the course material. Perpetual branding of university materials really took off in the 21st century.

The course was called “Innovation, Technology & Culture”, and was compulsory for all first year students.

Aims and object[ive]s 1/2. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

Interesting typo on the first line of this overhead sheet. In the 1990s, pre-PowerPoint, we used these sheets. Being able to print them was already a major innovation. In the early ‘90s, I was still writing them by hand, as illustrated by this sheet from a lecture about labour process theory.

Lecture and Seminar Schedules 1/2. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

Those were the days – a course that lasted for 24 weeks, with time to develop arguments and make connections. Students had two one-hour lectures every week, one more theoretical and one about a case study relevant for the theories we were exploring that week. For example, when introducing students to the concept of ‘techno-economic paradigm’, we also spent time on the history of the railway (see next page).

Seminars, in smaller groups, lasted for one and a half hours, and addressed both theoretical and empirical themes.

What We Did in Week 9: Schumpeter 1/2. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

In retrospect, I find it quite ambitious that we expected students to read major texts from the field in week 9 of their first year. Often, first-year students only encounter highly processed material, in the form of textbooks. Looking at the paragraph about ‘Preparation’, it was clear that we paid attention to developing the skills of close reading, and that works best with primary sources.

Lecture notes from week 16: The role of government. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

These lecture notes were prepared on a home computer, probably WordPerfect, the dominant word processing software from the mid-1980s until the late 1990s (and still used today by the legal profession). If you look closely, you can see it was printed using a dot matrix printer (still in use for high-volume printing needs in some sectors). 

I love my clarification of the difference between ‘a Marxist view of the role of the state in a capitalist country’ and ‘a Marxist state’. The former emphasises the role of the state as an agent to support the interests of capital (as described by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles in The Communist Manifesto, 1848), whereas the latter is a system of government based on Marxist principles.

See next page for a more readable version of the document.

 

Assessment 1/4. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

This is one of the assignments related to the theoretical part of the course. Students are referred to the reading list, of which the first page is reproduced here. The numbers after some of the references refer to the library (MH – Maryland House where we were based, or BK another part of the campus). The reading list was four pages long.

Assessment 3/4. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

These two assignments relate to the case studies. Again, I’m struck by our ambition in asking students to read Eric Hobsbawm and/or David Landes. I also like how we expected them to incorporate non-academic sources in the second assignment. We wanted to sensitise students to the idea that science, technology and their representations could be found everywhere, including popular and high culture.

Assessment 4/4. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

This is an example, given to students in advance, to help them prepare for the final exam. The exam was done in closed conditions, and the students wrote by hand, with a separate book for each of their three answers. Carrying these to and from the exam location, and to and from home in order to grade them was heavy work.

The Materiality of Teaching. Photo Essay "A Journey through STS and Innovation Studies."

In some of the previous pages, we’ve seen examples of dot matrix printing, overhead sheets, out-of-academic-use software, how to bind paper. Here are a few more examples – 3.5 inch disks, tape recording, slides (of paintings by John Constable and William Turner, a sort-of before and after of industrialisation). There was also chalk, and chalk dust. Outdated fashion tip: never wear black when lecturing with chalk.

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Created date

November 19, 2023

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Sally Wyatt. 19 November 2023, "Photo Essay. Teaching Innovation Studies at the University of East London in the 1990s", Engaging Science, Technology, and Society (ESTS) Journal, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 23 November 2023, accessed 24 May 2024. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/photo-essay-teaching-innovation-studies-university-east-london-1990s