Image is also available here in Media Hopper for those who can’t access postimage.org through their firewall
— Nigel Painting (@nigelchpainting) February 3, 2017
Taken from BBC Radio 4 website description of the programme:
“Diagnosed with early deafness aged 25, Frank decided to turn his misfortune to his advantage by modifying his hearing aids to create a new sense. He documented the start of his journey three years ago on Radio 4 in ‘Hack My Hearing’.
Since then, Frank has worked with sound artist Daniel Jones to detect and sonify Wi-Fi connections around him. He joins a community around the world who are extending their experience beyond human limitations.
In ‘Meet the Cyborgs’ Frank sets out to meet other people who are hacking their bodies. Neil Harbisson and Moon Rebus run The Cyborg Foundation in Barcelona, which welcomes like-minded body hackers from around the world. Their goal is not just to use or wear technology, but to re-engineer their bodies.
Frank meets the creators of Cyborg Nest, a company promising to make anyone a cyborg. They have recently launched their first product – The North Sense – a computer chip anchored to body piercings in the chest, which vibrates when it faces north.
Of course, the marriage of technology and biology is commonplace in medicine, from pacemakers to IUDs. But now ‘citizen hackers’ are modifying their medical equipment to add new functions. Dana Lewis from Seattle has created her own ‘artificial pancreas’ to help manage her Type 1 diabetes and released the code online.
To me the prospect of being able to hear wifi connections doesn’t sound particularly appealing, especially if the sounds are similar to those that will be familiar to any of us who remember listening to their modem or fax machine attempting to modulate a connection.
But I’m considering this situation as one whose hearing is relatively ‘normal’. To those whose hearing is impaired, being able to hear more than their fellow humans could be a tantalising prospect.
I know from experience that hearing loss can be a much more isolating experience than, for example, sight loss. Some years ago the mother of one of my colleagues suffered almost total sight loss as the result of an illness. My colleague’s father suffered from chronic degenerating hearing loss that could not be restored with hearing aids. Her mother was able to continue to be as involved in everyday life as she had been previously, if anything the amount of activities she was involved in increased, thanks to the support of the numerous groups for the blind and partially sighted that she joined. Her father became increasingly introverted, separated from even his close family by his inability to follow a conversation.
There are numerous sci-fi movies / TV series where the protagonist’s hearing is amplified to superhuman levels (Superman, Heroes, Robocop, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). In the film Lucy, the lead character suffers Hyperacusia, as everyday sounds bombard her from every direction. However, (and here is the key to all this) she learns to filter and process her new abilities and use them to her advantage.
There are some similarities here to one of my earlier posts on play and playfulness. Individuals hacking their medical implant and prostheses might sound alarming, or even dangerous, but who knows what new applications, new senses, or even new ways of learning, might be born out of such experimentation
— Nigel Painting (@nigelchpainting) February 1, 2017
via Twitter https://twitter.com/nigelchpainting
February 01, 2017 at 01:09PM
This is one of those news stories that at first sight appears to be about expending valuable academic resources on trivial matters. However, as with other areas of research there will be spin-off benefits in fields that perhaps have more benefits to society.
As the article points out Prof Sandholm said that the algorithm could be transferred to a range of other uses. This is not just about poker,” he said. “The algorithms can take information and output a strategy in a range of scenarios, including negotiations, finance, medical treatment and cybersecurity. Now we have proven the ability of AI to do strategy and reasoning, there are many potential applications in future.”
This playful approach to research can yield unexpected dividends and, as such, it would appear that the approach can be as important as the outcome. The early research into Graphene at The University of Manchester, by Prof Andre Geim and Prof Kostya Novoselov is a story of playful experimentation. “Andre and Kostya frequently held ‘Friday night experiments’ – sessions where they would try out experimental science not necessarily linked to their day jobs.” The first time Graphene was isolated, their basic technique consisted of removing “some flakes from a lump of bulk graphite with sticky tape”. Today “Graphene is a disruptive technology; one that could open up new markets and even replace existing technologies or materials. It is when graphene is used both as an improvement to an existing material and in a transformational capacity that its true potential could be realised.”
Play and playfulness takes me back to the IDGBL (games) course and the work of Johan Huizinga (1995) and Caillois (2001). In Huizinga’s classic work, ‘Homo Ludens: Man the player‘ he defines play as a key building block of human civilisation’. He shows how play can be seen in the arts, poetry, philosophy and even in the law and in war. Caillois’ typography builds on these theories and categorises various forms of play, which have proved useful in many contexts, including in education.
I can’t remember whether it was in IDGBL that we looked at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work (1990), but he defined an optimal state of being in adult humans (flow), that also seems to have a lot in common with play and playfulness. Flow in this context is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”.
So the lesson is, perhaps, that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of play and playfulness or dismiss them as trivial or frivolous activities.
Huizinga, J. (1995). Homo ludens: A study of play elements in culture. Boston: Beacon press
Caillois, R. (2001). Man, play and games. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. (Preptint edition; original work published 1958)
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: the psychology of optimal experience
This post might come across as something of a ‘rant’, and is perhaps more relevant to the communities and algorithm blocks of this course, but it’s where my reflections have got me to over the past couple of days and therefore, in my opinion, relevant.
The last time I studied humanities as a subject in its own right (and here I use the word ‘studied’ in the loosest sense of the word) , was as a high school student in the early 1970s. I am willing to admit that I didn’t really know what ‘humanities’ meant back then and it’s only since I’ve started to consider some of the bigger societal questions around technology through this course that the proverbial light bulb has turned on.
It’s not that I have been blissfully unaware, people and particularly their attitude toward technology are a crucial aspect of my job and I have strong opinions on some of the more worrying aspects of our interaction with automation and artificial intelligence, such as the privileging of certain information, ‘fake news’ and the altering of history.
On this latter point, and pertinent to the question of education and digital cultures, even the origin of the phrase ‘history is written by the victors / winners / conquerors’ (which is particularly apt in this context) has multiple and varying narratives. The phrase is firmly attributed to Winston Churchill on many websites, to Walter Benjamin on others, George Orwell, Niccolò Machiavelli, Ramzi Haroun on others, and so on. The phrase is also frequently attributed to William Wallace thanks to a version of it being included in the script of the movie ‘Braveheart’.
A more recent version of the phrase is ‘history is rewritten by the Internet’ and not only does this neatly sum up the issue, it points to a wider problem that everything, not just history, can be ‘rewritten by the Internet’. Relatively recent examples of this phenomenon in the UK are highlighted in this article from Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth
‘The word’ has always spread, with both good and bad intent, whether as knowledge passed between individuals, folklore, marketing or propaganda. The difference today is, as Viner refers to in her article, that everyone is a publisher and everyone ‘has their own facts’. As Viner’s article points out, quoting legal scholar Danielle Citroen, “people forward on what others think, even if the information is false, misleading or incomplete, because they think they have learned something valuable.”
So this matters in almost every context I can think of, but to bring it back to education and specifically to my own professional practice , it matters because trust or distrust in information provided, or perhaps more importantly, the skill or inability to critically appraise information, are crucial to belief and trust in the products and services we provide. For instance, in the current climate will individuals be more or less willing to accept scientific evidence if it is funded by the company that developed the product? How trusting will employees be of the company they work for when ‘fake news’ stories are circulating about it on social media?
Fortunately it seems that the issue is starting to be picked up by governments, the media and scholars, although it is my belief that this is an issue that, ultimately, can only be resolved by the same means it is being perpetuated.
— Nigel Painting (@nigelchpainting) February 1, 2017
“Prof Heppell researched the topic for more than 10 years in 25 countries. Shoeless learning has been carried out in schools in Scandinavia and New Zealand and learning centres in other countries.
“Mrs Tichener said: “We are noticing that the children seem more relaxed and calmer than usual, we hope that in time we can measure their progress and see if it has made a difference in their achievements.”
I wonder if there are some parallels here in gamification of learning, informal versus formal style of e-learning etc. in that they might also provide a more relaxed environment.
I’m now starting to get a feel for how the course structure can work for me and to home in on some of the core themes, after the initial excitement of getting to grips with this experimental format. At first, I found the sheer volume of interesting information and links that the relatively small number of students on this course manage to generate a little overwhelming. It wasn’t until the beginning of this week that I began to realise that it was OK not to read every linked article or watch every linked video. Firstly most of the linked content isn’t going anywhere and I can take it in at my own pace and secondly, I’m getting a feel for what will be most helpful to me and which links I need to follow and bring into this blog.
As well as, by inference (and possibly unintentionally), setting an expectation that the students on this course will have an “all singing, all dancing, expertly curated Lifestream” by the end of the course, Jeremy, our tutor, has helpfully summarised the key themes as:
- almost human
- divisions between technology and humanness
- the preservation of the authentic human
- the Utopia and dystopia of technological intervention
- centring of the desiring human subject
I think two of my more recent and longer blog post have clear links to a few of the above themes and I will look to expand my thinking in those areas in the final week of this block and over the remainder of the course.
I’ve been giving some thought to Sian Bayne’s paper “What’s the matter with ‘technology-enhanced learning’? ” (2014) and the many issues that are encapsulated in this simple, three-word phrase.
Can technology enhance our ability to ‘learn’ in the same way as it can enhance the capabilities of our bodies to lift heavy objects, travel at speed, survive in hostile environments, or fly? Bayne suggests “it makes no sense to see ‘learning’ as open to mere ‘enhancement’ by the operations of an externally applied technology ‘solution’”. However, I’m interested in finding out if there is any evidence to indicate that (to paraphrase Daft Punk) learning can be faster / deeper / stronger with technology. For example as an optician I’m interested in finding out whether e-reader and tablet PCs are conducive to quicker reading and improved comprehension (through easier access to Dictionary and Thesaurus look-ups for instance). From an optical standpoint the increased contrast of back-lit displays should be beneficial, particularly to older readers, but the first few papers I’ve found on the subject indicate that there is a lot more at play beyond the factors one might expect, such as resolution and contrast. I’m still researching the topic and when I have looked at more of the evidence I will summarise it in this blog.
I do agree with Bayne’s premise that what technology actually enables us to do is enhance the way we teach. In this respect, we have always used the technologies of the day as teaching aids, whether that is moving on from word of mouth sharing of knowledge to recording it in written form, or disseminating through other new media technologies such as image capture and projection, or audio and video recordings.
Bringing together the points Bayne raises and the wider definition of bodily enhancement covered by Miller, V (2011) perhaps we can take Bayne’s argument one step further and state that rather than ‘technology-enhanced learning’, what we are in fact referring to is ‘technology-enhanced teachers’.
After all, today’s teachers can use technology to aid learning in ways that would have been considered science fiction only a few years ago:
- They can slow down and speed up time to show learners processes that would be impossible to see without the aid of technology, either because they happen too quickly or too slowly, or because they would be too dangerous for a human observer to be close to.
- They can enable learners to see the impact of their own actions in real time through rich simulation of anything from basic fractions through to complex economic and mathematical modelling – for example Utah State University has been building a library of ‘virtual manipulatives’ since the late 1990s*. Similarly electronic or mechanical sensors can also be used to demonstrate physical, chemical and biological processes in real time.
- And they can overcome barriers such as time and distance, allowing learners from different parts of the globe to experience each other’s country and culture, or earth-bound classes to take part in experiments conducted in space.
These teacher could already be considered to have ‘cyborg properties’ through their physical connection to the technology as they control it through input devices such as a keyboard, mouse or presentation ‘clicker’.
So perhaps rather than ‘technology enhanced learning / teaching’, or as I would prefer ‘Technology assisted learning’, we should be referring to Technology enhanced teachers. This centres the technology firmly with the teacher and, rather than technology threatening to replace them, it would differentiate them from those who are not ‘technology enhanced’.
In the interests of keeping an eye on emerging technology and specifically educational technology I’m experimenting with adding some appropriate RSS feeds to the content bar. By their nature these are transient but it could highlight stories that are worth following up and may contribute to future blog entries.
Also into #oralhistory #yarnbomb #homeschool #skiing #vegan #crochet #tinyhouse (11091 followers) http://twitter.com/_crochez
Published on: 16 Mar 2017 @ 21:26
Published on: 16 Mar 2017 @ 18:41
Published on: 20 Feb 2017 @ 19:50 – fellow student
Published on: 20 Feb 2017 @ 17:25 – fellow student
Published on: 17 Feb 2017 @ 06:10 -…it’s taken a while but my social life finally merges with my academic life!
Posthumanism and the MOOC: Contaminating the Subject of Global Education
https://t.co/3Bw1XFjMkJ (1534 followers) http://twitter.com/j_k_knox
Published on: 4 Feb 2017 @ 23:48 – fellow student