The Gutenberg Parenthesis: Introduction to the flipped classroom and its epistemological conundrums
Change 11 MOOC
Alejandro Piscitelli


For years we have been using technology in the classroom. Very shyly at the outset, in a rather passive and unobtrusive way during decades, and wishing that the alledegedly advantage of the use of technology in the workplace and in everydaylife would show off its corresponding advantages in the classroom.

Tons of moneys have been spent episodically in this ambitious overhaul, first with video, TV-sets and tapes, more recently with desktops. From the late 1990´s on using laptops at spearheads. The time is ripe now to start it all over gain using tablets.

Tons of literature have addressed these matters with striking opposing visions. From Larry Cuban and Ted Oppenheimer to the much more positive and (for us) enticing positions of MOOC gurus, Howard Rheingold and many other proponents who instead of proselytising (for or against edutechnology) are showing how massive appropriation of computers in learning can have lasting effects in the way people learn, share and produce culture.


As a way of finding out the ways in which technology environments impinge in the way we learn, in the year 2009 we decided to teach a course at The University of Buenos Aires which would take place INSIDE Facebook and would have as its subject matter some defining cognitive and emotional properties funneled by the then rising social platform.

As a result technology embebedness was culled not through the teaching of technology on the one side, and contents on the other, but rather as a mashup of experiences mediated by technology which become second nature to a group of communication students verging on technofobia.

We pout ourfull thrust was in the development (both in teachers and students) of an attitude 2.0 (instead of competencies 2.0) embracing learning through an instantiation of edupunk practices.

The striking results were published in 2010 as The Facebook Project and the Post University (Spanish version of the book in link below). As an offshoot we kept on pushing the limits of technology reappropiation encouraging students not to analyse technology but to design it.

Thus in 2010 we held two courses on Redesign that generated a dozen of student projects emphasizing a constructivist perspective and shown in a Techno-artistic and epistemological performance entitled "The Gutenberg Parenthesis" in which we attributed the success of the students endeavour to their cut-off from the Gutenberguian and textual umbilical chord, in which they had been reared through their school experience.

Further on

The next step was to transfer those edupunk exercises into the real ground of a secondary school experience. Therefore on 2011 we set up an experiment with two cohorts of 30 students each at a public school in Buenos Aires with a destitute population.

It was the best testing ground ever: non-teaching in a real environment with non-teachers (our university students) to secondary students with very low symbolic capital, using the laptops (one per student) the government has given to more than 1.8 Million students (from a 3 Million total)

The results were stunning and had been abridged in the accompanying english Prezi. But non-standing the relative success a lot of questions concerning scalability, institutional friction, design of learning settings and so on have called upon a new overhaul proporsal of how using technology for learning both in formal and informal settings should be addressed.

We would like to discuss this short itinerary, contrast it with similar attempts to teach in post-Gutenberg settings, and draw some initial distinctions to establish a shared agenda emanating from cultural settings so diverse: the Latin-American and the North American and European.

Texts: Readings and Videos

Alejandro Piscitelli - Gutenberg Parenthesis Collaborative Knowledge (Spanish)

1@1 Sarmiento Project I Youth at risk and customized employment in the digital age Exploring alternative models in education that could develop new abilities and competencies (English)

Alejandro Piscitelli et al El proyecto Facebook y la PostuniversIdad (Spanish)

Pettitt, Thomas The Gutenberg parenthesis, 2007 and 2009
Ted Striphas The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture From Consumerism to Control Free PDF

Suggested activities

Analyse the epistemological foundations of Post-Gutenberg education.

Review the strong and weak points of edupunk in action.

Identify successful and identifiable experiences in an institutional school revamping.

Imagine new experiments so as to debunk school resistance and develop new strategies of learning resilience through self-learning, development of personalised curricula, project-based learning