Saturday, August 23, 2008

Teacher wanted; dead or alive?

Bruno Latour cites Dewey,

“Observations of consequences are at least as subject to error and illusion as is perception of natural objects.”
(p. 29).
Latour then focuses on the word consequences.
"Whatever has been planned, there are always unwanted consequences for a reason that has nothing to do with the quality of the research or with the precision of the plan, but with the very nature of action. It is never the case that you first know and then act,(if you are wise?) you first act tentatively and then begin to know a bit more before attempting again. It is this groping in the dark that is so difficult to map, especially when it is done by millions of people over the life of millions of others."

He spoke of this with regard to Thinking of the State.
But its also relevant to any implementation of change; the planned and implemented 'dream of reason' is not what occurs.
There are unintended consequences.
Though how these 'consequences' are perceived are also subject to bias. So with acknowledgment that this is a personal reflection its still worth thinking about the unintended consequences of what is wrought within a digitalised world...

Seems changes embraced have similarity with what went before, we 'surf on what went before'. The changes we accept seem to be changes that extend the possibilities of what was already occurring rather than radical alteration of form- or is it?.
When I am no longer geographically locked down,I have other freedoms; no longer bound to a geographical space has a trickle on effect; not just anywhere but also anytime.
My reach as a person extends.

There are also changes that are arguably less desirable. If my range extends, I 'cover more ground' the numbers of students taught by one lecturer can dramatically increase. The course content if taught once and embedded in a digital form can be made available to those present and not, by those present or not.

What are the consequences?
Teaching and learning becomes a provocation to thinking. Yup, happy with this so far.
By people unavailable physically, temporally. Still ok... having doubts; if I leave my teaching institution my online course with ppt, audiofiles of each lecture are whose property?
By a digital trace of someone who once taught... mmmmm, seriously less happy.
The 'lecturer' no longer needs a pulse. Uh oh.

Guess this blog is no different, with Dewey being post humously cited for bytes of wisdom.
And I guess I learn not only from the writings of dead people but also from the artefacts left on film or video. And there are a lot of dead French men with huge influence in academia...such power, knowledge, reach...

Online platforms for teaching and learning such as blackboard and moodle are increasingly entrenched in higher ed institutions of learning.
Whether this is seen as embedded, entrenched or a graveyard of teaching performances is not just a matter of perspective; realities are being made and unmade.

This was just a musing on what's required to teach and seems having a pulse no longer seems so important.

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