Week 11 Summary: “Gone Fishin’!”

This past week I have basically “gone fishing.”  This is a term many people use to describe their state of mind when circumstances are seemingly out of order a bit and they are fumbling about for a course of action or train of thought. This past week, I have spent quite a bit of time fishing: reading postings from my classmates, and offering some of my own, all in an attempt to narrow down what and how my final assignment will look like.

I suppose to be more specific, I want to go back and discuss themes we covered in Block 1.  These themes of digital culture I found quite intriguing especially now as there is more and more focus on the integration of technology into the daily lives of people.  As I was discussing this with friends at lunch, the tentacles of technology (good or bad) are now reaching beyond the laboratory or “drawing room” and are now on display as we watch TV, listen to our iTunes, even as we talk about medical issues with our physician.  I read an article I posted about on Twitter that humans are moving into a new form of slavery as we allow technology to influence and even control almost everything we do.

I also find so interesting the concept of human-cyborg-robot integration and the benefits/ramifications of that.  Looking over my postings over the course, I reviewed Frankenstein, I, Robot and other “fictional” characters that would seem now to be not so fictional.  What really grabbed my interest however was not so much the technology involved but the subjectivity of the posibility of when these machines achieve self-awareness, or sentience.  What does that mean for humankind?  Will humans as we know them to be now eventually cease to exist?  How far has technology come that machines can not only be made more human, but can be made to BE human?

Of course, as always, I shift around and focus on what this may mean for education and the pedgogies we use in the classroom.  I am not sure it should be a difficult question but I am finding it to be just that.  How will we teach in the future?  How will we LEARN in the future?  Back in the days of the original Buck Rogers and The Twilight Zone these questions were basic entertainment.  Now, I believe this are very real and legitimate issues that are standing right on front of us, right now, today.  I would love to take, or even lead, a course dealing with just this issue.  I regret we only had a couple of weeks to bat this about.

And of course, what medium will I use to pinpoint my fianl assignment and make it coherent and not to out of the box?  I used Lino for my Netography and that turned out fairly well, I think.  I am leaning to that again.  I will of course ook at other platforms to see how creative I can be yet not over-extend my presentation so it seems too busy or unorganized.  In short, I want my final assignment to reflect the fishing trip I went on and came back from, and not reveal the fact I may still be gone.

#mscedc

2 comments

  1. Hello Philip, good to read about your thinking and your ideas here.

    I’m intrigued by the suggested focus of your assignment. It sounds like you want to take a forward-looking approach with this exercise: using existing ideas and literature to consider what pedagogy might become. I certainly think this approach can work and I would be keen to see a piece of work presented in this way. I was initially going to describe this as a speculative approach however I don’t think that will be the case as you will be projecting forward ideas based upon knowledge and understanding from the first block of the course.

    What I think you need to do now is the following:

    1. Think about whether you might want to narrow this down into a particular educational context. Pedagogy is so broad that I think it might be overwhelming to try and talk about this generally within the scope of this exercise. Why not focus on a particular educational setting? At different times in this lifestream blog you have effectively taken some of the ideas from the course/readings and considered them in the context of your own classroom/school setting: is this an approach that could work for you in the assignment? Perhaps you might want to take a slightly playful approach and consider how your own class might look at a particular time in the future? In fact, in light of your interest in literature and science fiction, I wonder whether you could almost present this as a narrative – in a story form – where you draw on ideas from the literature to describe what the classroom has become, rather than what it might look like in the future? Just a thought.

    2. Think about which bits of literature might inform your work? There will certainly be useful resources from the cybercultures block. At the same time I know you’ve been looking at Braidotti’s work and that would also seen to be a really relevant resource.

    3. I would make a decision on the format only after you have decided what it is you want to investigate with the assignment and the broader approach you want to take. Your use of lino has certainly worked before however you might want to think about whether it is so well suited to the particular focus of your assignment, once that is in place. Remember at the same time that a ‘digital assignment’ needn’t be heavily creative or experimental to be effective.

    4. I think it would be helpful for you to come up with a provisional title for the assignment and then perhaps draft a couple of sentences outlining what you are setting out to do. That way you might be able to bring to the fore the most promising lines (fishing lines?) from your recent thinking.

    Of course, this is *your* assignment and I want it to be something that you can get excited about: my comments here are really just intended as prompts therefore please don’t assume that the approach I’ve suggested above is a strong guide from me on what you should do (or indeed a guarantee of success).

    All the same, I hope this helps, Philip.

    James

    1. Thank you, James, for your reply to my post. I have read through it a couple of times and I really appreciate the suggestions. It’s an interesting phenomenon that at the time when I (we) are thinking of our assignments, we notice more and more literature and other forms of media addressing the topics we we want to look at. I would say it is almost as if some sort of cosmic algorithm is at work to point us in a certain direction. I have not decided in what format I will present my final. I agree my topic will likely be the determining factor for that.

      You did mention also that I could look at what our classrooms have become. I would like to think about stretching that out and look at what our classrooms COULD become, or perhaps even SHOULD become. One thing I thought when reviewing my posts on I, Robot is the preparation of the main character for the task he ultimately had to perform in the film. In brief, he sustained an injury and his arm was repaired by the Dr who had created the race of robots in the film, including the VIKI, the ultimate nemesis. As will Smith’s character came to learn, the Dr had given him an android-like arm but made of much stronger material than the other robots. This allowed him to defeat VIKI in the end. The point is that Dr foresaw what VIKI would become (sentient) and used technology to prepare Smith’s character to deal with that future event. Smith, on his part and quite similar to many today, was at first resistant and even bitter toward robots, seeing them and the sterile, heartless algorithms they used, as things to be avoided and even destroyed. He came to a clearer understanding of things as the film progressed, eventually accepting technology as not only a part of life in general, but more poignantly as a part of himself.

      Using this story-line, and reading more literature on the subject of education and technology, I wonder if I can project what form learning may take in the foreseeable future, based upon how humans interact, and integrate, with technology now. A couple of examples would be some companies in Europe that implant employees with microchips that allow access to physical spaces as well as access to data. The chips also track movements, activities and other aspects of a particular employees behavior. Another example is the R&D taking place that will allow neural implants that will enable humans to access the various apps used on a smartphone, without actually having a phone in hand.

      I can see either of these technologies as having tremendous benefits in a school setting. So I will explore that further in the coming days. Of course, there is the inevitable ethical, moral, and even theological implications to all of this. But, as you cautioned, I will focus only on one aspect and leave everything else to someone else or for another time. I certainly don’t want to over-extend as I would lose the impact of the main course in favor of the side dishes.

      I don’t know if any of this helps my cause, or makes it more nebulous, but I do feel I am moving into a sharper focus. Any further thoughts are, as always, appreciated.

      Lastly, some of us in class have begun an email chain in order to share our thoughts and frustrations about the final. We plan to hit our ideas off each other as we move along, all in the name of mutual support. The image that comes to mind, humorously of course, is the settlers circling the wagons waiting for the Indians to attack. HAHA Anyway, I just wanted to mention I would like to share segments of this email with the group as it turns our this is a more detailed description of what I am thinking than I have expressed before. I will also include this in my Lifestream.

      Take care,

      Philip

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