Coup D’etat in the Panopticon: Social Networking in Education
Contemporary compulsory schooling emerged in the nineteenth century for the needs of an industrial age. Compulsory schooling has always relied on the Panoptic schema described by Michel Foucault. In recent decades, the development of surveillance technologies has made Panoptic schemas in schools even stronger. Information technology and the transition to an information society has significantly undermined schools' power structures. Teachers no longer possess a monopoly on knowledge. Students have learned to escape the teachers' gaze and can lead virtual lives through their own smartphones inside and outside formal educational settings. One form of modern peer-to-peer interaction takes place on social networking websites that give users the option to be 'hidden', 'passive' or 'inactive' if they wish. To examine the influence of social networking on education we rely on the Foucault's Panopticon theory. Whilst the traditional Panoptic regime may be crumbling, the social network phenomenon can transform modern learning environments for productive educational engagement. Foucault's framework does not take into account the social networks phenomenon. Therefore, empirical evidence is required to articulate the nuances of the modern-day Panopticon. In this chapter we use interviews with teachers to illustrate the reflection of Panoptic logics and practices onto the social networks in classrooms. We explore the possibility for developing dialogically based and student-led pedagogies through social networking websites. 'I do not know how I should communicate with students online, when they write me a private message and call me by my first name. Should I play by their rules on this space? Or, do I need to use the constructs from school?