ESRI Occasional Seminar

Wednesday November 2nd

Dr Nick Hopwood, University of Technology Sydney
Time: 2.00pm - 3.00pm
Location: 3.03, Brooks Building, MMU

Disrupting conservatism in simulation pedagogy: a diffractive appeal to theory

Simulation of a variety of forms is becoming an increasingly widespread feature of higher education pedagogy, particular in professional formation. While many simulations are low tech, universities are investing significant resources in ‘high fidelity’ simulation infrastructure: are they being seduced by promises of realism that are both implausible and pedagogically ill-advised? This seminar diffracts (in a spirit of theoretical-empirical engagement associated with Barad’s new materialist feminism) a series of theoretical propositions, provocations and possibilities. It refers to several years’ empirical study of simulation classes using SimManTM [sic] in an undergraduate nursing degree. One theoretical point of departure concerns how sociomaterial and practice philosophy can complicate answers to the deceptively simple question ‘What is being simulated?’. I argue that a contemporary reading of simulation scenarios surfaces a multiplicity of bodies, performances and experiences. A second line of enquiry concerns professional education in which recent developments in theories of the relationship between learning and work provide a basis for re-imagining what the pedagogic purpose of simulation might be. This leads to a story of intervention in the pedagogic space focusing not on the bells and whistles of high-tech manikins, but on the students left watching their peers. The diffraction extends further through drawing on Baudrillard’s idea of simulacra (simulating what was never there), connecting his disruption of real/imaginary binaries with Kemmis’ notion of practice architectures. Finally I will outline some possible readings through a Deleuzian lens – disrupting distinctions between the real and the virtual, and mapping smooth and striated spaces of simulation. Overall, the diffracted picture creates possibilities to reveal and undermine the conservatism inherent in dominant simulation pedagogy, creating a basis for more transformative or productive (in a Deleuzian sense) encounters with the unreal.

Short Biography
Nick Hopwood is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney (School of Education), and Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch (Department of Curriculum Studies). His research interests focus on professional learning, questions of knowledge and expertise, and social resilience. Nick takes theoretical inspiration from a range of cultural-historical, sociomaterial and other sources, encouraged by the prospects of how theory can help us not only in the task of criticism and unmasking, but in exploring and building new ideas. Nick also has responsibility for postgraduate research students in the UTS School of Education, and a linked youtube channel and blog ( exploring issues relating to research, supervision, publication, and working with qualitative data.