In EDC, we practiced a ‘pedagogy of networked learning’ in which knowledge was “located in the connections and interactions between learners, teachers and resources” (J. Knox). This was my first blogging experience. I approached the blogging requirement with much hesitation and trepidation, as my personal preferred learning style is much more introspective. Now that I am more ‘educated’ about digital cultures, I expect to be more circumspect henceforth about my digital presence and interactions.
Block One was an exploration of the ‘uncanny’ themes and ‘blurring boundaries’ of the human-technology binary. We pondered the quintessential question: “What does it mean to be human” in the digital age? This ‘unorthodox’ initiation – juxtaposing robots, cyborgs, androids and theoretical discourse on post- and trans-humanism immediately imbued me with sense of ‘belonging’ to an eclectic online academic community. The ‘comfort level’ was enhanced by the course design that had a seminar-like ambiance with less than a dozen students. The interaction with new EDC peers and instructors struck an appropriate balance between friendly, supportive online exchanges and serious academic inquiry.
The creation of our Block One digital artefact was a major accomplishment for me, as it was my first publicly posted YouTube video. I was initially overwhelmed by learning new digital tools, ‘wasted time’ and made many production mistakes. However, a confluence of serendipitous events coalesced to enable me to pull together the digital artefact. Learning should be a trial and error, constructive and creative process. Also, I learned that technology is symbiotic with being human, and that technology can indeed enhance or even transform learning. We just need a more nuanced understanding. (S. Bayne; TEL)
The MOOC micro-ethnography project during Block Two was another confidence-building assignment. Kozinets affirmed that technology and culture are co-determinant and co-constructive. A “thorough understanding of these contexts requires ethnography.” Assuming the role of a digital ethnographer afforded insights into the MOOC learning environment that I would not have achieved otherwise, purely as a MOOC student. I experienced the ‘tension’ of being both an insider and outsider simultaneously; the empathy and the distance.
Block Three was punctuated by our intensive Tweetorial which I approached in an atypically extroverted mode. My ‘performance’ revealed a latent obsessive-compulsive learning tendency that demands deeper self-reflection. My online reputation (‘klout’), based 100% on Twitter activity, doubled during this course from an initial measure of about 18% in January to 36% at the end of the course. From an ‘analytics’ perspective, this metric indicated some level of transitory increased engagement activity on my part as a digital learner.
With each Week’s blog posts, I tried to include at least one substantive blog summary of the academic readings to demonstrate my understanding of key concepts. Later in the course, I also tried to synthesize and share some of key concepts from readings within the constraints of the 140-character Tweet limit. Martin Hand enjoined us to consider the “parameters of access, interactivity and authenticity of an emerging digital culture.” Ben Williamson warned us that “algorithms are out of control,” while Jeremy Knox appealed to us to interrogate how learning analytics can “make the invisible visible.” In light of the paradigmatic shift from teacher-directed classrooms towards learner empowered, technology-enhanced education, perhaps the role of educators is to teach the critical thinking skills required to regain control of our humanity, as technology becomes more powerful and pervasive.
Making mistakes is a critical aspect of learning. I only hope that my EDC online interactions caused ‘no harm.’
“The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and ourselves.”(Hannah Arendt)
Thank you for the ‘assurances,’ distant yet close EDC friends. See you again, soon, online.