This research in process is being conducted by Wouter Grove (UWC/Vrije Universiteit Brussels); Dr Johan Breytenbach (UWC, Information Systems) and Prof Leo van Audenhove, imec-SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Belgium.
Platform design, Higher Education and the Luddite contradiction: An exploratory case study of machine breaking during #FeesMustFall
The arena in which higher education institutions engage with students is increasingly becoming more digitally mediated. This digital arena is also home to emerging socio-technical digital platforms, as a growing channel of engagement in higher education. The underlying principles of continuous innovation in higher education have been challenged over the last three decades by the growth in the role and power of the user. The recent observance of incidents of Luddist machine breaking during the #FeesMustFall protests in South Africa may be indicative of a growing disconnect, especially as it pertains to engagement with and innovation through digital technologies. The ability of higher education institutions to listen more effectively to student voices, also as they are increasingly being voiced through digital means, has been starkly called into question by the #FeesMustFall protests. In this exploratory case study we examine some of the similarities between 18th century British Luddism and digital technology focused machine breaking incidents during #FeesMustFall. We argue that these parallel mechanisms and tensions at work during the Industrial revolution and now the Digital revolution may strengthen the case for user innovation as basis of continuous innovation within the Higher Education context in South Africa.