Final Reflection. Week 12

Reflection: Looking through a lens (Image: @bodzofficial Instagram)

A hundred years after Dewey published his book Democracy and Education (1916) championing education as a communal process, I wonder how the process of being a scholar of education in the digital age compares now to how it did then. The key principle of reflection in Dewey’s theory is still relevant today. Dewey claims that ‘[e]ducation, in its broadest sense, is the … social continuity of life.’ (p 4), since we live so much of our lives online it makes sense that educational communities have evolved and that we study them there.

The pressure on academics to publish using different mediums shows that scholars are required to do much more than thinking and writing alone. They are tasked with ‘new ways of working and new ways of imagining [themselves]’ (Fitzpatrick, 2011, p 3). This was certainly true in the use of a lifestream blog as a scholarly record. The constant pressure to be creative by publishing in a range of mediums and working quickly to meet tight deadlines is what it means to be a scholar in a digital world.

In Cybercultures we discussed how discourse contributed to instrumentalism (Bayne 2014) in relation to digital education. The discourse around ‘enhancement’ evolved into how our bodies are being changed by technology this was echoed in my visit to a Learning Technologies Conference on Health Education. We looked at how we are no longer limited to text when trying to portray scholarly thought (Sterne 2006) and I was able to do this by creating digital artefacts. It was interesting to see how other participants were able to construct meaning in ways I did not anticipate.

Community Cultures allowed us to see how educational communities are constantly evolving. The Massive Open Online Courses in which we participated supported our roles as researchers and students. Here we could see how digital education is changing and how cMOOCs have morphed into more individualistic xMOOCs over the last few years and have evolved to be smaller, less focused on community and more geared towards promoting participating universities and encouraging employability.

In Algorithmic Culture we reviewed how algorithms relate to pedagogical issues like sequencing, pacing and goal setting and evaluation of learning (Fournier 2014) and how these algorithms help our machines ‘remember’ us thereby determining the content we access. The discourse around Learning Management Systems (LMS) and their effectiveness to capture data (Siemens 2014) about students and their learning was reminiscent of discourse mentioned in Cyberculture.  The way in which institutions track and monitor students by using data echoed the issues around discrimination and invisibility I looked at earlier in the course.

I was daunted and anxious about my lifestream at the beginning of the course; having to do so much, so publicly was overwhelming. Seeing what other people did also inspired me. Having a reflective piece of work to map my learning is helpful as I can see how my development in my lifestream progressed. I feel it highlights not only my reflection (Dewey 1916), but my creativity and my technical skill. It has given me a new way of imagining myself as a student (Fitzpatrick 2011).


Bayne, S. (2014). What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’? Learning, Media and Technology 40(1): pp. 5-20.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Retrieved: 4 April 2017.

Fitzpatrick, K. (2011). The Digital Future of Authorship: Rethinking Originality. Culture Machine 12: pp. 1-26.

Fournier, H., Kop, R. and Durand, G. (2014). Challenges to Research in MOOCs. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), pp. 1–15.

Siemens, G. (2013). Learning Analytics: the emergence of a discipline. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(10): pp. 1380-1400.

Sterne, J. (2006). The historiography of cyberculture. In Critical cyberculture studies. (New York University Press.) pp. 17-28.