Buber, educational technology, and the expansion of dialogic space

26 Feb 2018

Buber’s distinction between the ‘I-It’ mode and the ‘I-Thou’ mode is seminal for dialogic education. While Buber introduces the idea of dialogic space, an idea which has proved useful for the analysis of dialogic education with technology, his account fails to engage adequately with the role of technology. This paper offers an introduction to the significance of the I-It/I-Thou duality of technology in relation to opening dialogic space. This is followed by a short schematic history of educational technology which reveals the role technology plays, not only in opening dialogic space, but also in expanding dialogic space. The expansion of dialogic space is an expansion of what it means to be ‘us’ as dialogic engagement facilitates the incorporation, into our shared sense of identity, of aspects of reality that are initially experienced as alien or ‘other’. Augmenting Buber with an alternative understanding of dialogic space enables us to see how dialogue mediated by technology, as well as dialogue with monologised fragments of technology (robots), can, through education, lead to an expansion of what it means to be human.