Comment on Film Festival – Take 2 by Daniel Jackson-Yang

“In a world where cyber culture takes us closer to AI, we need to keep boundaries.” –

What should these boundaries be? Should there be a social sanctions to enforce them or are you saying that there will be negative outcomes for crossing them?

Out of interest did you students not mention anything about fashion as driving their choice of technology? They seemed to have already learnt it is more socially acceptable to cite need as a motivation rather than desire.

from Comments for Linzi’s EDC blog

Bayne – What’s Wrong with TEL – IDEL Summary Repost

What’s the matter with ‘technology-enhanced learning’?
Learning, Media and Technology
Volume 40, 2015 – Issue 1

Pages 5-20
Sian Bayne

In this article Bayne analyses the rise of the term “Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL)“ within the field of UK and European education. She then suggests that the coining of TEL as a neologism is more problematic than had previously been widely considered as TEL is, in her opinion, far from value free and neutral.

Bayne argues that such a critique is necessary as TEL is an inherently conservative term that does not reflect the multiplicity and complexity of digital academic practice. She draws upon postmodernist ideas on the importance of language in defining the direction and limits of thought leading her to state that by using the term TEL researchers may be preventing them from engaging properly with the relationship between education and technology.

Bayne’s evidence for the adoption of TEL as a terminology comes from three sources, firstly the incorporation of TEL in the titles of several national research programmes, individual university research units and postgraduate courses. Secondly, the use of the term TEL in public documents by other key institutions in UK HE such as the University and Colleges Information Systems Association national survey. Lastly, her own google trends frequency analysis which showed a correlation between the decline of “e-learning” as a search term and the rise of “TEL”. In order to appear more authoritative it would have been useful to have the results of the frequency analysis referenced but there is certainly enough evidence to suggest that the term is currently used widely within the UK. Bayne suggests that the term TEL remains specific to the UK and Europe however it appears to have currency in South Africa at the very least (Ng’ambi et al. 2016).

To make her critique of TEL Bayne use a different analytical framework for each word in the term to better reveal its hidden values. Bayne deems “Technology” in TEL to be vague and ill-defined concept which only seemingly exists to support existing pedagogic practice. Bayne suggests that it would be beneficial to take a critical technology studies approach, such as the work of Hamilton and Friesen (2013). This would allow us to avoid essentialist and instrumentalist fallacies with regards to technology as well as allowing to properly position technological development as a social practice.

Bayne then takes issue with the term “Enhanced” suggesting that this reveals a philosophical debt to transhumanism. Bayne posits that there are parallels between transhumanism’s refusal to interrogate the human subject in depth and TEL’s obscuring of the social factors in Education. This obfuscation prevents researchers from discussing the context of what is being “enhanced” and who the beneficiaries are. She suggests that critical posthumanism would be a better model for TEL to draw upon as we would produce a more valid account of education as an assemblage of the human and non-human.

Finally, Bayne questions TEL’s privileging of “Learning” over teaching. Bayne states that this focus on learning is misleading as technology is more often applied to teaching and administration than the aims of individual learners. She then suggests that this focus on learning is emblematic of wider educational trend that Biesta termed “learnification” (Biesta, 2012). This once again leads TEL to obscure the social context in which education happens. By using the term TEL to define the field of research little room is given for questioning the purpose and function of education, as well as the power relations that are constantly being contested.

Whilst Bayne makes a strong case that the term TEL should be treated with greater caution she does not take the next logical step and propose other terms which could stand in its place. It would be interesting to see if a more flexible, open term could be formulated. A further avenue of critique would be to pose the question whether previously popular terms such as “e-learning” were equally conservative and limiting? It is of course entirely possible that we are trapped by language and that rather than calling for a new term Bayne is aiming to promote a critical, postmodern approach amongst the readership of this journal.


Bayne S., (2015), “What’s the matter with ‘technology-enhanced learning’?”, Learning, Media and Technology, Volume 40, Issue 1

Biesta, Gert. 2012. “Giving Teaching Back to Education: Responding to the Disappearance of the Teacher.” Phenomenology & Practice 6 (2): 35–49.

Hamilton, Edward C., and Norm Friesen. 2013. “Online Education: A Science and Technology Studies Perspective.” Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology 39 (2).

Ng’ambi D., Brown C., Bozalek V., Wood D. (2016) “Technology enhanced teaching and learning in South African higher education – A rearview of a 20 year journey: 20 years reflection on technology enhanced learning”, British Journal of Educational Technology Volume 47, Issue 5

Bayne – What’s wrong with TEL – Notes


Tech Enhanced Learning is not a neutral term. It has biases. This paper explores them.


TEL is a UK specific term. Evidence for it’s usuage – google trend shows uptick. Loads of unis establishing TEL centres and offering degrees that have TEL in the name. Funding bodies and projects use the term (UK research council). There is TEL journals, it’s used in nationwide uni surveys.


HEFCE and UCISA in favour of a notion of ‘TEL’ which is claimed by one to be ‘more explicit’ about the enhancement value of technology (UCISA 2008 UCISA (Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association). 2008. “2008 Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning for Higher Education in the UK.” and by the other to be ‘less narrowly defined’ than the previously dominant term ‘e-learning’ (HEFCE 2009 HEFCE. 2009. “Enhancing Learning and Teaching through the Use of Technology: A Revised Approach to HEFCE’s Strategy for e-Learning.”


2013 Kirkwood, Adrian, and Linda Price. 2013. “Technology-Enhanced Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: What is ‘Enhanced’ and How Do We Know? A Critical Literature Review.” Learning, Media and Technology. doi:10.1080/17439884.2013.770404[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®],

Kirkwood approach empirical literature review

Tech enhances in 3 ways 1.) Operational – more flexibility in teaching styles

2.) Quantitative – improves scores

3.) Qualitative – makes students happier



Term is too neutral. Terms are important as they help decide the direction of a field.

Doesn’t do justice to the disruptiveness of the digital in the academy.

What’s wrong with technology:

When tech is ever clearly defined it’s always seen as “supportive”. By doing this Tech gets “black boxed” and cut off from social usage. Technology studies no longer ignore social usage so EdTech studies shouldn’t either.

This see’s tech as instrumentalist.

i.e. it contains no biases or values. It’s neutral and can be used unproblematically for whatever ends the user decided

Tech is essentialist.

i.e. tech embodies essential qualities. KEY PHRASE “harnessing technology”


The rising popularity of ‘TEL’ as a phrase can perhaps be partly explained by the alluring and efficient neatness of its division of the social and the technological, and by the reduction of their complex entanglements to a clear relation of subordination: technology can be utilised to enhance pre-existing personal and societal educational objectives (instrumentalism); equally ‘learning’ can be transformed by the immanent pedagogical value of certain technologies simply by allowing itself to be open to them (essentialism).

Don’t ask – how can tech make education better. Instead ask – what do we want education to be? How can current tech be used to fulfil those values?

What’s wrong with enhance:

“enhance” is inherently conservative. Means no radical change.

It hides a problematic link with transhumanism i.e. Education is to enhance brain processes and output.

This needs to be debated. Do we want enhancement? Equality of access to enhancement?

The term enhancement is entirely contextual. A judgement is needed to see if something is getting better. It cannot be assumed.

(What is transhumanism? The primary concerns of the transhumanist worldview are with the perpetuation of the humanistic values of rationality, autonomy, dominance over ‘nature’ and human perfectibility via technological enhancement and the power of scientific progress

This leads to capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism.

Posthumanism critiques all this. It denies a universal “core of humanity”. Everything is mediated through history and social experience.)

As Thacker (2003 Thacker, E. 2003. “Data made Flesh: Biotechnology and the Discourse of the Posthuman.” Cultural Critique 53 (Winter): 72–97. doi:10.1353/cul.2003.0029[CrossRef], [CSA]) points out, such a view is blind to the ‘ways in which technologies are themselves actively involved in shaping the world’


A critical posthumanist position on technology and education would see the human neither as dominating technology nor as being dominated by it. Rather it would see the subject of education itself as being performed through a coming together of the human and non-human, the material and the discursive. It would not see ‘enhancement’ as a feasible proposition, in that enhancement depends on maintaining a distinction between the subject/learner being enhanced and the object/technology ‘doing’ or ‘enabling’ the enhancement. And where ‘enhancement’ discourses have a tendency to decontextualise – to fail to interrogate in which contexts, and for whom, ‘enhancement’ is desirable – a critical posthumanist position would be committed to a detailed account of the social and political ecologies and networks through which technological innovation is performed.


What’s wrong with learning?

Most of the time the tech is being applied to teaching not learning.

to reduce ‘education’ to ‘learning’ prevents us from asking critical questions about how educational goals are negotiated and how its power relations are constituted

This makes education instrumental.

fails to take account of the fact that ‘a major reason for engaging in education is precisely to find out what it is that one actually needs’

Week 2 Synthesis

This week has been pretty tiring blog-wise. I managed to crash the whole thing whilst trying out a different theme, the front page and links were not so straightforward to set up and recategorising all those posts from when I set up the wrong IFTT feed.

I set up a header menu but ended up getting rid of it once I had the front page set up. It looked too messy and I think the categories and links on the frontpage make the blog easy enough to navigate.

I’ve gotten frustrated with the amount of time sorting the blog has taken that could be more profitably spent on the course readings and writing my own blog posts. It has all felt far too much like admin for my liking. I do enough admin my day job. It is, however, sorted enough now that I can hopefully leave the structure as it is for the rest of the course.

I enjoyed the film festival and have included a transcript in my lifestream.  I have done 4 blog posts but only the one about post-colonial cyberculture studies felt that substantial. The rest were a bit more off the cuff. I haven’t had much in the way of comments from other EDC students which is a little disappointing as it was the back and forth blog with my tutor that made IDEL so challenging and enjoyable. Hopefully now things are set out better that may change.

Goals for next week:

1.) Record a cybernetics inspired spoken word improvised music piece with my band.

2.) Flickr photoset illustrating points from the set reading as my visual artefact.

3.) Sort out the twitter IFTTT so it shows a picture of my tweet not just my face

How we became posthuman – notes

Katherine Hayles

How We Became Posthuman

Argues that mind cannot be separated from body. Against cybernetics.

Argues that posthumanism and lots of other “new” theories of subjectivity in fact reinforce and transcribe traditional liberal humanistic values. E.g. universalism, rational mind, progress, individualism.

Argues that it is important to understand the history of how information became theoretically untethered from the material. If we do this we can critique and resist seeing immaterial info mindset as inevitable result of technological development. (p20). We’ll get to restate virtuality so that it acknowdges the importance of the body.

Argues that sci fi lit can explore the implications of sci theory in a way that sci theory cannot. Influences the cultural narrative of cultural engagement with theory and technology and is thus worthy of serious study.

Key Question: Can information circulate unchanged thru diff substrates?


Identifies 3 narratives in cybernetics, cognitive, science, biomedicine, etc.


1.)    Information without bodies:

Intelligence is the formal manipulation of symbols. Computers can do this as well as humans.

Wiener Cybernetics – info is an entity distinct from the substrates carrying it.

< think Fang’s information structure


Thus having a body isn’t essential to being human. You can take the brain and put it in a robot.

This kind of abstraction is appealing as it means info is free to travel without considering time and space. Immortality.

Privileges digital information over context bound analogue info.

2.)    Cyborg and cultural artefact and icon:

Post WW2


3.)    How we became posthuman (although I think the author means transhuman):

Human and intelligent machine union. There’s no essential differences and they can join together.

Prefers info patterns over material instances. Biology is incidental. Emphasises human cogn over emobodi.

Consciousness is not the only source of humanity.

You learn to manipulate the body after birth. Why not continue to manipulate the body with prosthetics?

Recognize there is no self-directed free will on its own. We are products of society and tech and our relations to the world.

We don’t have to be cyborgs to be posthuman. Key difference is the construction of subjectivity (exisit in mind, not “real” world). Not robo add ons.



3 ages of cybernetics:

1945 – 60 – homeostasis – Aimed to make a theory of communication and control that could be applied to man, animal and machine. Makes humans essentially the same as intelligent machines.

Still based on humanism. Intelligent machines with rational self directed autonomy.

Homeostasis emphasised so that philosophical implications did not threaten current social order. (p7 – how does this work? Need to ask)

1960 – 1980 – reflexivity – What creates a system becomes part of the system, from another perspective. What was thought to come from the conditions in fact MAKES the conditions.

Think about marshall amps, designed for early rockers. Becomes incorporated and essential to the sound of rock.

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everyone isn’t out to get you. Reflexivity?

In homeo period cyberneticians saw the observer as not part of the system. This changed in this era.

19880 onwards – Autopoesis – organisms reactions to environment are decided by their self-organisation. They exist to replicate this self-organisation.

Implies diff from feedback loop. Info doesn’t come from outside environment. The system is closed. The only info we get is what our self-organisation allows us to see.

Implies info flows no longer key. What matters is matches between the self organisation of two different organisms. A bit like constructivism in IR? Nations perception of each other models behaviour?


Plato forhand – World is complex, make a simple model, treat the multiplicity of the world as imperfect versions of your perfect model.

Plato Backhand – world is complex, build a simple and gradually make it more various until it reflects the complexity of the world.


Virtuality – the belief that objects are penetrated by information patterns. They riddled. They are laced.

The internet of things needed this conception in order to be built. The belief that all objects harboured information we just need the microprocessors to read them.

#Those engaged with virtuality tend to be key actors. Thus material penetrated by info becomes dominant cultural belief.

Alvin Toffler – Intellectual Rodent

As a child of the 80s I can’t take the name Alvin seriously.

Actually thinking about it 70s children would also struggle to take the name Alvin seriously. (Seriously creepy video, the blank eyed audience clapping on the beat makes me think of marching jack boots).


If this is Alvin Toffler’s most famous quote as google search seems to suggest then it deserves to not be taken seriously as it is completely inane. Do you know who will be even more illiterate than those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn? Actual illiterate people. Do you know what makes it really difficult to learn, unlearn and relearn? Being illiterate.

Digital literacy is entirely embedded in “traditional” literacy skills. Text is still a dominant form of transmitting information.


Body Music

Followed a link from a twitter post by fellow EDC student Myles Thies:

and remembered that Silver’s Historiography of Cyberculture mentioned how sound and interface design should be included in the Cyberculture Studies canon (p.24). This is a nice example of using a completely different interface to utilise digital technology. And the result? Well, I imagine it is very different for the musician to play but as a listener this feels entirely familiar thanks to the last couple of decades output of electronic music, sound effects, music concrete, free jazz, etc.

Sometimes I think that we’ve gone as far as we can in terms of timbre and texture of synthesis. It just sounds familiar now. What’s left is different ways of manipulating, curating and arranging these sounds. Generative music apps are a good example . This is mind blowing in terms of how the music is made but sounds just like Brian Eno’s other ambient records.

For this Body Music app what I would like to see is for it to get sensitive and controllable enough to be used with modern dancers to create unique, improvised music. I imagine it would be a bit like this. The idea seems kind of logical as choreography has long become one of the most essential parts of pop music, arguably more important than the music itself in a pop performance. Why not let the choreography generate the music?

Menus, Comments and Front Page

Not got it all working yet but it’s on its way.

So a few things I thought would be worth noting:

1.) I had one night when my IFTTT feeds was set with out the matching keyword of “Jackson-Yang” and my blog got flooded with everyone’s comments from their feeds. I’ve decided to keep these in my lifestream because it reflects my engagement with the format and illustrates the info-deluge of the internet. I have decided to delete them from my “Comments” category though so I can see the comments I have made more easily.

2.) After getting some advice from Dirk Schwidenhammer I have tried to set up a pinned front page to help people navigate and basically divert the lifestream so it flows more in the background. You can go over and look it if you want and it provides the power to the cotton mill of my blog, but I’m positioning it at the bottom of the valley.

The pictures on my front page are:

I made this during IDEL and it seems appropriate to reuse here.

 An obvious pun on the word synthesis.

 I google image searched lifestream and to my delight was directed to Final Fantasy 7 fan art. This game was huge when I was teenager and I completed it multiple times. One of the few games I ever got really into. I don’t play games now. Total serendipity.

3.) The category menu pinned on the top of the pages has suddenly started working. I have no idea why. I’ve not done anything different.