Saturday, 2 February 2013

Reflections on Week1 #edcmooc - Utopia & Dystopia

On my way home from work on Friday I opened my local newspaper to see the title "Dystopian vision for Scottish education 'to provoke debate.'" The article discusses various scenarios put forward by the Scotland's Futures Forum project which began in September 2011. Some people thought one of the scenarios of "gated communities, rising crime and social unrest" was already prevalent in our society today. The report said "most peope saw this world-view as a dystopia; a vision of a dysfunctional society and almost unimaginable in the time-scale." Sir Andrew Cubie, director of Scotland's Futures Forum wants people to think long-term about "Scotland being a world-leading learning nation by 2025."

I thought this article really tied in nicely with week one theme of Utopia and Dystopia.

Week One Films
Bendito Machine III (Dystopia)
This film reminded me of a shadow puppet show with its black silhouettes and coloured background. One of the characters ritually climbs up the hill to receive the next piece of technology. The community are exposed to the new technology until it breaks and the cycle begins again. Nothing gets fixed to prolong the life of the technology, its all about replacing old technology with the latest thing. I think we can all recognise that we live in a throw away society, days of getting your tv fixed when something went wrong are long gone. People queue up for the latest technology e.g ipads, iphone fans even though there is probably nothing wrong with what they have. Are we leading the way or is technology driving us forward?

Inbox (Utopia)
A charming film with likeable characters. Interesting how the girl had nothing in her Inbox on her laptop but through the magic of the red bag begins a conversation with a complete stranger. The post-it notes were short "tweet-like" messages that engaged both characters. The key thought for me with this film was engagement, technology is great but it requires human engagement to be effective.

Thursday (Utopia & Dystopia)
Like other Moocers I thought that Thursday offered the balance of Utopia and Dystopia. The bird adapting to the landscape trying to communicate with technology but not speaking the same language. The male character who's life is shaped by technology from the moment he gets up, dealing with the frustratiing aspect of technology when it doesn't work (hand scanner). Humans at a loss when technology breaks down in the office (we've all been there!). Couple going up to an outer space ride for their date instead of staying on the ground, walking in the park. 

New Media (Dystopia)
Like the film my comment is short, technology is sucking the life out of everything.

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

Having seen "digital natives and digital immigrants" referred to in other articles I was interested to read this for myself. Despite my profession I would describe myself as a digital immigrant as I am guilty of using some of the language Prenksy talks about. I also recognise other digital immigrants, particularly instructors who are afraid that:

  • technology will replace them. 
  • technology will devalue their teaching. 
  • their lack of digital skills will leave them feeling exposed. 

As for the digital natives, they may have grown up with technology and speak the language but they don't all have the necessary digital skills .Sure, Computing students will be savvy with technology but in a different way to a nursing student, its not necessarily across the board. I do agree that digital immigrants need to change their teaching to reflect the language the digital natives use if they want them to engage with course material.

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