Where to start, where to start? This Education and Digital Cultures course has opened so many doors, traveled so many paths and crossed so many lines of conversation, interaction and thought that’s it almost feels like an injustice simply summarising our rampant and energetic dive in to our world of digital influences, both real and unreal as it now exists into a synchronous set of weeks’ activity.
Our foray into the awakenings of AI and the lessons we (think we) should be heeding was a visual candy shop to kick off our EDC experience. Largely dystopian and seldom encouraging, only time will tell if we are indeed ready to articulate the delicate mandolin that is ever developing artificial intelligence, biomechanics and our inevitable march towards a post humanist and eventual transhuman state of being. Writings from the likes of Miller (2011), Hand (2008) and Hayles (1999) walk the path of either insightful readings of future trends or irrelevant commentary to be hurled on the trash pile of past inaccuracy. Only time will tell. And doubly so, we can only hope that whichever future does manifest, it does so in ways that benefits the human race profoundly more so that it does so currently without us sacrificing too much of our precious human compassion, consideration for our home and our ethical duty to help others. Baynes (2015) criticism of TEL resonated on several occasions where we were called to question the use of the digital medium.
The development of the MOOC for instance is at least one major stab at applying the benefits of a highly connected world to overcome the barriers to education though lack of resources, capabilities or institutional advantages granted by place of birth, race, or another means by which humans can be separated.
The dream of open education, although noble, is not without its challenges as was so deftly demonstrated in our ethnographic studies on the OER phenomenon. Open, as we have come to learn is not as ‘open’ as we imagine and participants in these free learning environments face a series of obvious and sometimes not-so obvious tests to achieving understanding, some of which are created through just being human (self-direction and motivation). EDC, in this case helped push me to consider so many more factors within the MOOC device that I had not even begun to consider before. Not only that, it exposed me to ways of visualising and communicating on these factors in innovative ways too that I believe was of benefit not just to me, but, to my fellow learners as well. And so too did their creative experiences enrich my understanding and achieve the core essence of the community basis of learning.
Lastly, the foray into the structured ,but, at the same time, somewhat manipulative world of the alogarithim and its cousin, learning analytics, aptly dissected by the likes of Siemens (2013) and Knox (2015) as well as Eynon, (2013) to reveal its growing influence in all parts of our lives, indicates that these phenomenon’s must be interrogated at every step for the sake of learners everywhere lest we be led by the proverbial nose down a path of good intentions that could also discriminate and exclude.
Coming to the end of this course on education and digital culture, with its array of immersive and portentive experiences I am drawn to the fact that although it is heavily imbued with layers, flows and currents of existing and future technology, it is human connectedness, feelings and perception that is still at the heart of what good teaching is all about. Even as we go about finding ways of trying to improve those elements across time, distance, culture or language, connecting with others to learn, to share and to experience should be at the heart of every single digital endeavour we embark on.