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eLearning and Digital Cultures

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Simon Cotterill

on 25 February 2014

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Transcript of eLearning and Digital Cultures

Simon Cotterill
eLearning and Digital Cultures
High-level philosophies, particularly 'humanism',
have a strong influence in education. Changing
technologies and philosophies - 'posthumanism' and even 'transhumanism' have implications for
our understanding of education, and its place in wider society.
High Level Philosophies

My name is Simon Cotterill. I'm a Learning Technologist at Newcastle University, UK.

This is my short assignment for the
"e-learning and Digital Cultures" MOOC run by Edinburgh University as part of the
Corsera collaboration.

I'm doing this course purely out of personal interest.
The assignment is relatively open-ended and needs to be brief. I hope to cover:

A brief overview of the high-level philosophies (Humanism, Post-humanism & Transhumanism) relating to reasserting the human and redefining the human and how this relates to technology enhanced learning in Higher Education.

How did I integrate my learning from the MOOC’ into my world view in terms of the 'here and now'?
High Level Philospohies
Humanism II
Reference (from Course resources):

Humanity 2.0: defining humanity - Steve Fuller’s TEDx Warwick talk, 2009
Humanism is enshrined in our culture, nowhere more so than in the ideals of education.

Paideia (ancient Greece)
realising human potential by education;
subject education + having the right mental discipline to understanding the world
BUT restricted to only the aristocratic polis
influence today:
speaking in proper sentences
respecting different view points
justifying arguments
developing larger points of view
Universitas (Ancient Rome)
Progressively working towards higher goals, beyond individual interests

Christianity -> Liberalism
'Cultural guilt' for failure of all humans not to be treated as humans
C18th onwards: systematic efforts to "raise the overall level of humanity"
redistribution of wealth
human rights
mass education
High Level Philosophies
It is actually hard to define the essence of what it is to be 'human'

Especially in secular society where science increasingly shows 'humans' aren't necessarily that unique in respect to other 'animals'

"We are exotic apes suffering from God Delusion" (Mitchel Foucault’s ‘Death of Man’ thesis )

Rise of a range of PostHumanism theories
How Might These
High-Level Philosophies
Relate to Technology and Education?

Wealth for all = free to
peruse self-improvement

Internet = mass access to
education e.g. OER / MOOCS

Education anywhere/ any time

Technology = loss of creativity/ human essence

Information overload =crouds out ideas

Loss of cultural diversity
Emerging Philosophies: Transhumanism
Enhancing humans by the advancement of technology
information technologies
genetic engineering
molecular nanotechnology
artificial intelligence

No more poverty/illness

Learning beyond limits of
'feeble' human memory

Higher-state of existance

Loss of the essence of humanity


Inequality - divergence into
2 species : confclict
Low Level - Back to the Here and Now
Our current context: rapidly evolving information and communication technologies
Changing technologies are always disruptive

They change society but cause conflict between adopters and 'luddites' who want to retain the status quo.

The Internet has completely changed the music industry and retail sector; now it is changing education and publishing (less symbiotic & more competitive).

The world has shrunk! Globalism in terms of economies and also cultures, including access to and provision of education.
Challenges in the here and now
"digital natives" vs. "digital immigrants" (Prensky,2001). Discredited in that many young learners are NOT technologically literate, but still a useful metaphor in highlighting the 'gap' between many teachers and most students in experience and expectations of technology.

Diversity in preferences; use of social media - not everyone wants to use Twitter, Fb etc. + diverse preferences for visual vs. hierarchical text etc.
Real or Reactionary?
"Is Google making us Stupid?" (Carr): instant answers without critical thought
Limiting/homogeneity of search results

Is Wikipedia making us lazy? Interesting to see changes in academic attitudes; many now less hostile/threatened.

Opening to a sense of yearning vs. Open to information overload (Campbell, 2012)

Does Technology change learning?
Plasticity of the brain
Increasingly used to small chunks of information
reliance on silicone memory (pseudo-transhuman?)
inability to concentrate and critically read a book
Personal thoughts
Learning Technologies have the potential to reduce emphasis on content delivery in education. This could free up time for more participative learning, but essential that students are supported to develop independent learning and critical thinking skills. (optimistic humanism creeping in here!)

Most learning technologists (myself included) subscribe to 'Connectionist' educational philosophies; not all academics do!
Personal Thoughts II
Early research focused on difference in online compared to 'real world' behaviour because the media filtered out visual/emotional cues e.g. 'Understanding the Psychology of Internet Behaviour' (Joinson, 2002)

But social use of the internet and mainstreaming of video over Internet has brought back the emotion/synchronous interaction to some degree, now even creeping into your VLE! You could consider this a 'realignment' with Humanism!

We are becoming 'Flyborgs' (wear our tech) not 'Cyborgs' (implant our tech) - at least for now! We are becoming more reliant on silicone memory, but thats not the same as having a micro-SD card slotted directly into your brain!
Thank you to the facilitators and
participants on the "e-Learning and
Digital Cultures" MOOC.
Carr, M. (2008) Is Google making us stupid? http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/
Campbell, Gardner (2012). Ecologies of Yearning. Keynote at Open Ed '12, October 16, 2012, Vancouver BC. (63:19)
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