Knowing with New Media
Following the systemic theory's lead, the Ripples sees the formation of individual agency as a result of the continuous interactions with natural/sociocultural environments.
Agency is an attribute of human actions that fashion
the patterns of behaviour oriented towards achieving
a collective goal through the promotion of individual abilities and psychological needs.
In this interactive process, non-human actors have their own agencies. In the biological world, they are driven by the need to survive and act upon this need in accordance with their given capacity.
In the world of objects, things do not act upon the need to survive, but they provide affordances — certain conditions and possibilities that trigger the knower's intentionality and shape their blueprint of action.
As the Ripples' knowing progresses, enacting the dynamics of the feedback ripples, the agency of the knower undergoes a compelling transformation.
The circularity of this transformation is realised through an equilibration of individual actions other peoples' actions affordances of the environment, cultural signs of communication and cultural tools. Rippling through a systemic organisation of these circularities, the knower probes the sustainability of
the existing structures, exerts his/her influence on them, recognises essential functions of the surrounding systems and modifies his/her agentic actions in order
to alter the environment.
Through cultivation of their agentic-selves, students develop their entrepreneurial strategies for taking risk and producing effect in a changing cultural and economical landscape.
Consistent with other pedagogical dimensions of the Ripples model, distributed agency is an aspect intertwined in the circularity of knowledge-production self-design.
In Ripples, this circularity is symbolised through a life-smart-raft analogy.
In 'real-life', a life-raft is often a reference to an inflatable boat to be used in a critical situation, when the main ship must be abandoned.
A life-raft is designed to withstand severe weather and sea conditions. Using this analogy we can better explain the Ripples' fundamental circularity of knowledge-production self-design.
In times of sweeping social and technological changes, where many big job-providing establishments undergo radical reconstructions, having individually customised life-saving sets of skills and competencies is critical.
In Ripples, the life-smart-raft refers to a repertoire of acquired knowledge and skills that promotes cultivation of individual agency
for competent navigation through the fluctuating circumstances of life.
This process is based on a connectivity of the knower with the surrounding world. Its maturation takes place through the application of feedback loops of self-reflective practicecollaboration with others.
The Ripples' approach positions the knower at the helm
of their life-smart-rafts. But at the same time, through the instrumentality of the feedback loops, it assists the knower in de-egocentralisation and helps them to see the world through the eyes of others and appreciate the influential tendencies of culture, its signs and tools.
Borrowing from Douglas Thomas and John Seely-Brown (2011), it can be said that the Ripples' life-smart-raft is a platform for a student to develop ‘individual notions of who she is (identity) and what she can
do (agency) (loc. 661). As Thomas and Seely maintain, ‘we shape and define boundaries of our agency and identity within the collective’
Thomas Douglas &
John Seely Brown
Gert Biesta &