#EDCMOOC Week 2: Looking to the future
Imagining, Learning/ Yearning and Who's Looking?
My #EDCMOOC (eLearning and Digital Cultures Massive Open Online Course) posts spring from my participation in the course offered for free by the University of Edinburgh via Coursera.org.
by Justine C. Tajonera
Images of future worlds
Corporate "visions of the future" like Corning's A Day Made of Glass 2 and Microsoft's Productivity Future Vision seem like utopias to me, worlds where technology serve our purposes perfectly. I noticed, though, that there was nothing fundamentally different in education: there is a traditional school set up the Corning video and the little girl in the Microsoft video is doing "homework" and preparing for a traditional bake sale (most likely for school). Everything is just enhanced. Communication is enhanced. Collaboration is enhanced.
These are in stark contrast to the more dystopian videos of Sight and Charlie 13, where a suspicion of where technology could lead are taken up. In Sight, technology can be used to "reboot" even humans. In Charlie 13, it's a bit unclear what lies "outside the grid" but just having a choice is enough to represent hope. The same theme is repeated in Plurality...there is a resistance movement against a mandatory wired grid. It presents a dystopia disguised as utopia: a world with low crime rates, a world of order and peace...but at what cost? The question that I ask myself is: Is there a choice outside utopia and dystopia?
Metaphors, story lines and floating Things
Which brings me to the next set of resources for Week 2 that touch on frameworks. Johnston's paper is uncanny in that it captures precisely either a utopian or dystopian view of technology in a series of editorials. Language, at least for us human beings, is everything. It creates the world for us. As in my first blog on EDCMOOC, I value diversity so it disturbs me that I am presented with either salvation or destruction. Does everything redound to a binary? I value structure to that point that it contains chaos. But I'm interested to see how we can paint a future that is neither impossibly shiny and bright nor bleak and totalitarian.
Caption: One of the funnier RH bill memes going around on social media
I enjoyed Newitz' talk on the four story lines of science fiction that is playing out with the advance of technology. I was particularly struck by instant social revolution. In my country, the Philippines, our RH (reproductive health) bill has just passed into law and I think a large part of the conversation happened on social media. This blog by a Jesuit priest is just one example of the conversations that were sparked by this deeply divisive bill. The centuries old influence of the Catholic bishops is eroding. This might not have been as speedy without the open access to social media that Filipinos have. We are not confrontational, face-to-face, but we have taken on technology heartily (starting with text messaging in the late 90s and early 2000s) because it became a venue for us to freely express ourselves.
While I do see the danger of a surveillance culture, especially when Things/ Blogjects can become agents...I also see how these same platforms, Things, points of access can be tools of revolt, reimagining, renewal. Here, I see my "uses determination" showing its head again.
I found the back-and-forth between Shirky and Brady amusing. One employs the "you can't stop technology" approach using the example of the demise of Napster (but the rise of the MP3) while the other defends the status quo and accuses MOOCs of being parasitic and profit-driven. Both approached it from the status quo...with one using technology to enhance, to improve...to topple the status quo while the other was suspicious of what drives the adoption of technology. Perhaps he is even asking: what's wrong with what we have now?
I think I caught a glimpse of a third perspective that I want to purse in Campbell's Ecologies of Learning. Now is the time to ask the right questions. Do we produce more of what we have? Do we now produce it in scale?
Caption: Will Richardson's book, Why School?
Or can we go back to the question of: why is this so important? What is this all for? I also read this in Will Richardson's single/ paper, Why School? Indeed, why? Richardson talks about a world where information is available at a touch of a button... we are in an era of abundance. But what do we do with it? How do shape learning in this kind of environment?
Learning how to fly
Caption: My son wants to be a pilot. Giving him a flight simulator on an iPad would have been impossible a decade ago.
Why are we caught up in utopia or dystopia? Does it matter? Will it help me answer a question that I am passionate about? Here, I experienced the "double take" that Campbell talks about. In this world, I don't want to be a "schooler." I yearn to understand what it will take to make this Earth habitable for my children and my children's children. That was why I took up Sustainability offered as a MOOC by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I am bewildered by the explosion of technology and how I can harness it so that my six year old son can use it in the service of thinking for himself and finding what he is passionate about. Just recently, I realized that he mentioned that he wants to be a pilot. Why didn't I think about it before? Instead of just taking him to aviation museums and air shows...I could actually download flight simulations from the App Store. This, more than any number of exercises on addition and subtraction, will motivate him to learn...to genuinely understand what it takes to get a machine in the air, experience flight, and land it safely. Of course, addition, subtraction...and more to come...will be part of what he needs to learn. But now he has context.
And it is the same for me. Will technology be a utopia or a dystopia in society and in education? It depends on who is looking. And that's why I'm excited about Week 3: Being human.