On one level I admire the idea of harnessing the combined efforts of millions of individuals to solve a problem. I’m aware that similar ‘crowd sourcing’ has been used to identify potentially habitable planets and in the identification of abnormal cells. In a similar vein I tried (unsuccessfully) to get the company I work for involved in using the processing power of our PCs for cancer research, while the computers were not being used a night.
My only issue with this type of distributed / networked effort is when it’s done in a covert way. I’ve mentioned the ulterior motive of RECAPTCHA to a few friends and work colleagues and none of them knew that it was being used to digitise books. As a result their first reaction was a feeling of having been ‘used’, regardless of whether digitising the books in question would be to the greater good.
In my view this type of ‘covert’ activity, however well intended, risks adding to public fears about the misuse of data.
So far these extracts from ‘What’s the matter with ‘technology enhanced learning’, sum up some of the big questions for me:
“Yet after science and technology have worked over all human limitations […] the transhumanists claim that something essentially ‘human’ will still remain: ‘reason, intelligence, self-realization, egalitarianism’. Technology here simultaneously, and paradoxically, enables both the transcendence and the preservation of the human.”
“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.”
“It is time to re-think our task as practitioners and researchers in digital education, not viewing ourselves as the brokers of ‘transformation’, or ‘harnessers’ of technological power, but rather as critical protagonists in wider debates on the new forms of education, subjectivity, society and culture worked-through by contemporary technological change.”
Sian Bayne (2015) What’s the matter with ‘technology-enhanced learning’?, Learning, Media and Technology, 40:1, 5-20, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851
Let the intellect alone, it has its usefulness in its proper sphere, but let it not interfere with the flowing of the life-stream. Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki