Online Dissection: An encounter with the new/other or just more of the self-same?

Just finished revisions to the paper, Dissection and Simulation: Brilliance and Transparency, or Encumbrance and Disruption?, which will soon be appearing in the online journal Techné.

Here’s the abstract:

The increasing use of online simulations as replacements for animal dissection in the classroom or lab raises important questions about the nature of simulation itself and its relationship to embodied educational experience. This paper addresses these questions first by presenting a comparative hermeneutic-phenomenological investigation of online and offline dissection. It then interprets the results of this study in terms of Borgmann’s (1992) notion of the intentional “transparency” and “pliability” of simulated hyperreality. It makes the case that it is precisely encumbrance and disruption –elements that are by definition excluded from simulations and interfaces– which give dissection its educational value.

Here’s a summary of the findings (warning: spoiler 🙂

Intentionality –which cycles through moments opacity versus transparency, interruption versus flow– refers to the way our experience (and its meanings) is tied to the world around us through our changing plans, purposes and goals. The language used to describe interface design, interface experience, only are those of “positive” moments of transparency, flow, intention, seamlessness, learnability. But in excluding disruptions and opacity, interfaces –which increasingly frame our access to the world—only half of one side of intentionality is accommodated. Opacity and interruption, clearly significant as perturbations and dis-equilibration in learning, are systematically removed, and become nearly impossible to simulate.

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