Major crises, such as covid-19, make paradoxes and tensions in society more salient. I wish to close this course with two that have been central to this lifestream.
- We typically worry about the ‘automated’ (e.g. my tags a reasonable view on AI, disrupting the world, and tech saves the world) ─the cybernetic part of the cyborg (Hayles 1999’s boundaries of the autonomous subject), the nudges of MOOCs (Adam 2019), and the intelligent algorithm (Knox, Williamson & Bayne 2020) ─yet they do very well at creating and reinforcing social behaviours: the social distancing the public now massively supports or, in education, the integration of norms (meant to become spontaneous dispositions). With digital cultures, education finds itself often torn between the desire to ‘emancipate the self’ and the will to make students norm-abiding citizens. Concepts such as transhumanism (Bayne 2015), entanglements of agencies (Knox 2015) and assemblages (Kitchin 2017) have been useful discoveries for me to avoid getting stuck.
- Learning takes place in context, and a constant worry of my lifestream has been to question and the relevance of cyborgs and MOOCs (also building on Adam 2019) beyond the West (e.g. my tags gaming the system and look South ). Moving to algorithms, a tension appears obvious (and the artefacts of this block, for instance, contrasting mine and Iryna’s): we worry both that digital cultures homogenise learning and that they discriminate by making the experience singular (and therefore making people miss things out). Here the contesting of learnification and dataification (Biesta 2017; Knox, Williamson & Bayne 2020) appears a possible way forward as it seeks to restore student autonomy but also challenges the idea of students as fully informed consumers.
Let me now reflect more on this lifestream as an artefact co-constructed with the support of algorithms. Automation failed me a little (e.g. my comments not appearing in my lifestream) and I feel I missed out a little, during block 2: maybe I have already written too much on ‘communities’ as an academic, or maybe it was that I felt it hard to again try a MOOC, or maybe I just had less headspace because of travelling. Anyhow, more interesting is probably that feeling that, overall, I have tried to resist algorithms (Beer 2017). Opting-out of Twitter was one such acts of resistance, but I am a prisoner of Google recommendations (even with all the obfuscation tools installed on my browser) and echo chambers on Pocket and YouTube (as experimented in my artefacts).
What strikes me in my lifestream, and perhaps this is in part testament to my difficulty of embracing the open space (à la Manifesto to Teaching Online) in which it sits, is the level of edition and curation that I did (and so did many, but not all to the same extent, of my excellent classmates). However, this is maybe more our acknowledgement of the entanglement of agencies and the assemblage of socio-materialities (Kitchin 2017) that stubborn Luddism. Maybe the algorithms and indeed making us cyborgs, and it is not that terrifying.
Bayne, S. (2014) What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’? Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851 (journal article)
Beer, D. (2017) The social power of algorithms, Information, Communication & Society, 20:1, 1-13, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1216147
Biesta, G.J., 2017. The rediscovery of teaching. Taylor & Francis.
Hayles, N. Katherine 1999 Towards embodied virtuality from Hayles, N. Katherine, How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics pp.1-25, 293-297, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.
Kitchin, R., 2017. Thinking critically about and researching algorithms. Information, Communication and Society, 20 (1), 14–29.
Knox, J., Williamson, B. & Bayne, S. 2020. Machine behaviourism: future visions of ‘learnification’ and ‘datafication’ across humans and digital technologies, Learning, Media and Technology, 45:1, 31-45, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2019.1623251
Taskeen Adam (2019) Digital neocolonialism and massive open online courses (MOOCs): colonial pasts and neoliberal futures, Learning, Media and Technology, 44:3, 365-380, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2019.1640740