This is a very belated week 10 summary as week 10 itself (16th-20th March) was a blur of writing and running workshops, training academic staff on how to deliver their subjects online, trying to un-buy a house and generally keep safe and prepare for the Coronavirus’ descent on Sydney.
So apart from the Google Hangout meeting we had, I barely engaged with the course in a direct way and didn’t record much on the lifestream apart from a comment on Sean’s comment on my artefact.
I also managed to upload the 2nd half of the podcast on Algorithmic Cultures. And then finally ot around to writing my summary for week 9.
In all honesty, it has been hard to maintain motivation with everything else going on and a great deal of visceral uncertainty and tension in the atmosphere.
This has been significantly ameliorated over the last couple of days by us being able to find a place of our own to stay in. We had been housesitting for the last 16 months, but that all ground to a halt very suddenly with the pandemic preventing travel. Now, we’re settled in a what would usually be a holiday flat in South West Rocks NSW.
As we had only a matter of days to find accommodation, and Sydney’s rental market is absurdly difficult to get into, we contacted an agent here in SWR and they said they’d be happy to rent to us for a much reduced price. Renee’s family are from this area so, it’s familiar to us both and a kind of second home already. With that decided, we jumped in a borrowed and rusty Subaru and drove the 6 hours to get here.
Working from home means that the key consideration was having a wifi connection. Getting this going was a costly exercise but the easiest choice I could think of which was a portable Wifi Modem.
Now, what does any of this have to do with Digital Cultures and more specifically this lifestream blog?
Well it’s clear that I’m in a very privileged position of being able to simply pack up and leave and still have a job while hundreds of thousands of others in my city are out of work indefinitely. Part of this is simply due to the digital nature of my work. I can consult with academics digitally, I can produce work and share it digitally, communications, digital, and the sector my job is devoted to is almost entirely based-upon digital technology.
But this digitality of my work in education belies the fact that for the receivers of this work, the ability to access the digital is not a given. The great assumption of all edtech really is the idea of equity of access.
This is particularly sharp now when the task assigned to many educators is to make their teaching fully digitally available. For many, this simply means turning lectures and tutorials into video-conferences for students to access from home. Home.
That word, that place can be taken for granted so easily. When we say ‘work from home’ or ‘study from home’ , it’s getting harder to ignore the fact that some students may not be able to afford to do that much longer. I suspect this will be the sharpest point for many international students as well, who rely on their casual employment to support themselves and can’t yet access government welfare services. The response of educational institutions will be central. We may come out the other side of this praising the work of digital education forgetting how many students were either completely excluded from studying or who had to give up some basic right to privacy to an EdTech company serving institutions.
I sure hope not.