As we end our first block on cyberculture, it continues to strike me how many ideas about technology and education appear rooted in dualisms which tend to centre (a certain kind of) ‘human’, whilst othering the ‘digital’ (Knox 2015).
What kind of ‘human’, however, influences the design of ‘artificial intelligence’, and what assumptions may be baked into the algorithms that influence the choice of content we include in our lifestreams? Does this reproduce existing biases or privilege a certain view of ‘human’ ‘intelligence’? What might be the implications for education and learning analytics?
If ‘machines’ can ‘learn’, does the responsibility still lie with the programmer? If ‘distributed cognition replaces autonomous will’ (Hayles 1999: 288), should we instead think in terms of ‘cognitive assemblages’ and ‘nonconscious cognition’? Reflecting on this, I found an example of distributed cognition through slippingglimpse (Hayles 2008).
I continued this week to consider how technology is often visualised as a ‘tool’ or ‘enhancement’ (‘Ping Body’, Stelarc). Moving beyond technology ‘enhanced’ learning (Bayne 2015a), and towards a critical posthumanist view, can we imagine a view of education where the human subject is not separate nor central but the human and non-human are entangled in a ‘creative “gathering”’ (Bayne 2015b)? How might we visualise this?
This paper examines what the term ‘postdigital’ might mean for education through the discussion of human-technology relationships. It begins with a summary of two general interpretations of the postdigital: firstly, to understand the ‘post’ as meaning simply ‘posterior to’ the digital, suggesting a different stage in the perception and use of technology; and secondly, to consider the ‘post’ as signalling a critical appraisal of the assumptions embedded in the general understanding of the digital. Subsequently, the paper outlines three critical perspectives on the digital with specific relevance for educational concerns. The first examines the economic rationales underpinning digital technology, focusing on the idea of the platform and the assumed benefits of sharing. The second discusses the role of the digital in educational policy and the compound effects of the metrification of institutional quality. The third section explores the digital as ‘material’, and the increasing attention paid to issues of labour and the exploitation of natural resources required to produce digital technologies. These perspectives suggest an understanding of the postdigital in terms of profound and far-reaching socio-technical relations, which have significant consequences for thinking about the purpose, focus, and governance of education in contemporary times.
Although in many ways the post-digital “sucks but is useful” as Florian Cramer notes in his contribution, this issue of A Peer-Reviewed Journal About Post-Digital Research takes it to be a serious concept that deserves our critical attention. The journal issue is divided into three sections, that address the term itself, its genealogy and wider connotations, as well as its potential usefulness across different fields (including art, acoustics, aesthetic theory, political economy and philosophy). Given that the term comes from practice, it also addresses how the post-digital potentially operates as a framework for practice-based research that relate to material and historical conditions.