Fear versus promise

movie clubDuring our movie club on Monday night, there was one comment that really resonated with me. We had spent a lot of time talking about the fear and dystopia of the sci-fi genre and even talking about why humans innately fear the idea of robots who resemble humans physically, like in “Westworld” or the cyborg in “We only attack ourselves”, yet none of us found “Gumdrop” scary. We linked this to our love of fairgrounds and that controlled fear, it’s scary but we know we are safe so it’s ok to be scared.┬áHelen then said something which I think might have been a quote from someone else but it just seemed to switch on a light with me, “… in contrast to the promise of the digital.”

Day to day in my job as a learning technologist I deal with the promise of technology and the disheartening of fear, not the fear of A.I.s becoming sentient or of the dystopia caused by technology, but just fear of technology or possibly more specifically of the change it brings. ┬áThis week I am attending an information session to update myself and other learning techs about the project the university has begun to bring lecture capture in for the start of next semester. this means that all lectures will be recorded for the first time so that student can use the recordings as revision material and the lecturers can use the material for teaching at other points. It’s a big step, though, and rightfully some of the staff involved are scared of being recorded and scared of the impact this will have on attendance. Some feel it would have a negative effect on learning but the one objection which shocked me the most is that people are scared that somehow these recordings would be used to monitor teaching staff. Very “1984”.



One Reply to “Fear versus promise”

  1. Interesting post here Eli, and a nice connection between scifi and ‘the day to day’ of education technology.

    I think this is one of the key things we are trying to explore in this course: whether ideas from scifi films or literature can ‘bleed down’ and influence our ideas about technology. It seems here that the surveillance of 1984 becomes the way that the ‘data capture’ of video lectures is understood. In that sense, the ideas from 1984 might provide a useful frame for taking a critical stance on lecture capture.

    I suppose one could imagine that the next step after video capture is the student rating of videos, and perhaps the next step after that is the using of ratings to measure teaching performance?

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