Thursday, November 14, 2013

Utopias & Dystopias: Looking to the Future

Film 1: A Day Made of Glass (5:58) Watch on YouTube
These are two video advertisements - one from Corning, and one from Intel - setting out these companies’ visions of how their products will evolve and be used in the future. In both cases, the companies position their information technologies as completely integrated with daily life and education. 

Utopias & Dystopias: Education

Daniel, J. (2002). Technology is the Answer: What was the Question? Speech from Higher Education in the Middle East and North Africa, Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, 27-29 May 2002. 
In this speech, Professor Daniel, at the time the UNESCO Assistant Director for Education, offered the view that ‘in all parts of the world evolving technology is the main force that is changing society’ (a model technological determinist position, you’ll observe!). He argued that, despite popular opinion, education was not exempt from these changes, nor should it be. Indeed, technology could solve the three most pressing problems of education: access, quality and cost. His praise of open universities directly prefigures the current fascination with MOOCs, and you will recognise many of the same arguments about economies of scale at play. He asks his audience to be critical in assessing the claims that are made about educational technology and what it can accomplish. Using Daniel’s four ‘b’s - bias, bull, breadth and balance - what observations can you make about his utopian arguments about education? What currency do they continue to have in this field? 

Utopias & Dystopias: Ideas

Chandler, D. (2002). Technological determinism. Web essay, Media and Communications Studies, University of Aberystwyth. Download as PDF. 
(, but we are also providing it as a PDF. An alternative, web-based version is available via the Wayback Machine.) 

Chandler’s web essay explores the concept and history of technological determinism, which he defines as ‘seek[ing] to explain social and historical phenomena in terms of one principal or determining factor’ - technology. Chandler calls this theory ‘reductive’, and points out that as a way of understanding social phenomena, reductionism is often criticised as being overly simplistic. This is especially the case when determinists become ‘technocentric’ - ‘trying to account for almost everything in terms of technology'. He introduces concepts such as ‘reification’; ‘autonomy’; and ‘universalism’, as elements of technological determinism. Importantly for our purposes, he also indicates how we can identify when a determinist position is being taken, even if an author or speaker doesn’t make it explicit: 

Utopias & Dysotpias: Looking to the Past

Film 1: Bendito Machine III [6:35] Watch on YouTube
Technological development in terms of ritual & worship - the characters in the film treat each new technology as god-like, appearing from the sky and causing the immediate substitution of the technology before it. 
What is this film suggesting are the ecological and social implications of an obsession or fixation on technology? 

Friday, November 8, 2013

e-Learning & Digital Cultures MOOC

Starting eLearning & Digital Cultures offered by the University of Edinburgh through Coursera!

My First Badge for the cMOOC Teaching Online

A great way to end an incredible learning experience - my first badge to certify that I successfully finished my first cMOOC How to Teach Online! It is one thing to have been reading all of the discussion out there about MOOCs - are they good, bad, etc, etc... - and quite another to actually participate in one. I am happy that I chose a cMOOC, as my inauguration to this kind of online learning and look forward to continuing my personal growth and professional development using this format in the future.

In addition to regular participation in the course, the final task to qualify for the badge required completing a final reflection that responded to the following questions:

I. How will you apply the “fundamentals of online teaching” in your own teaching?
In past years I have taught instructional design using the ADDIE framework. As I consider the question of how to apply the Fundamentals of Online Teaching, I believe this model integrated with Bates’ Nine steps to quality online learning provides a structure for how to think about this.