Dec 12 2010

Linda Matthews

EDC Final Reflection

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A final review of my learning from the lifestream environment highlights how far I have travelled in twelve short weeks. I plan to use the structure of EDC itself to reflect on this journey as I consider how ideas introduced in the first block of digital cyber cultures intersect with the new digital literacies I have experienced on the course; I will then reflect on my own experience of the EDC virtual community which connects to block two; finally I will conclude by considering the posthuman connotations of my journey which chimes with block three.

‘Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media … transliteracy extends the act of translieteration and applies it to the increasingly wide range of communication platforms and tools at our disposal  (Thomas, 2007). The experience of constructing a lifestream and from this composing an ongoing reflection and narrative of learning has been to activity experience and develop my own transliteracy. A number of the platforms were relatively new to me e.g. twitter and some were completely new e.g. delicious, Tumblr, Prezi and YouTube. I feel a real sense of achievement in having utilised so many tools that were unfamiliar. The mode of communication across these tools utilises both images and words and there is a richness to be observed in the interplay between the written text, e.g. a posting in response to the course reading, and then a visual presentation on a similar theme e.g. a prezi.

The virtual community that has emerged as a result of this EDC unit have had its own transcommunication flavour as exchanges had been made across different platforms from twitter to more direct and qualitative exchanged in the wordpress environment. I have been inspired and intimidated by my peers on this course in equal measure; inspired because of the quality of the work produced and the insights shared; intimidated for the exact same reasons. Reflecting on this experience I observe that my pattern of undertaking my EDC work, always towards the end of the week meant that I did not always get the most from the exchanges as I trailed behind the ‘early birds.’

I want to conclude this summary by considering two posthuman connotations of my EDC experiences.  Firstly, I consider that I have experienced a unit designed with an underpinning posthuman pedagogy, as I have been encouraged to learn with a community and have been given the freedom to choose the ‘platforms, tools and media’ I want to use to represent my ideas. This has been a very different, exciting and rewarding way in which to learn. I have found that the lifestream environment acted as a constant prompt and record of my own (and my peers) engagement with this unit, and I can honestly say I have never worked so hard on any unit of study in my academic career. Secondly, I can reflect on my new awareness of the posthuman connotations of my own interactions with and through technology within this unit and beyond. I had a sense of the ‘destabilization’ effect of technology within my own teaching practice prior to my EDC experience, but did not have the theoretical framework of posthumanism to identify, analyse and harness new ways of working. Happily, I now have the necessary underpinning theoretical knowledge which I know will lead me to reflect and refine my own academic practice.

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Dec 11 2010

Linda Matthews

Review of Week Twelve

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A review of my activity for the final week on EDC centres on editing, revising and developing the lifestream itself ready for submission for assessment. This aspect of work brings me into ‘strategic student’ mode (drawing on Entwistles’ definitions of surface, strategic and deep learning) as I work to align the work I have done throughout this unit into an appropriate format for assessment. However, there are unexpected ‘deep learning’ consequences to this activity as I am actually learning more about managing this lifestream environment, the administrative functions and the options available to me as I edit my own work. I find it interesting that this process for preparing for assessment begins to ‘fix’ this work in time and space, albeit an online space, for the first time. I sense the presence of the ‘real’ physical manifestation of the university. I made reference to this in my Tumblr posting when I listened to Jen’s podcast and heard her voice for the first time. Her Scot’s lilt connected me in a geographic way to Edinburgh (or perhaps Scotland more generally) and the assessment deadline is the time when I present my learning from this unit at a given time. Real world learning begins merge into my online experience, another example of a fluid realy/virtual learning boundary.

I have also included a posting this week relating to a current example of a cyborg , when Wafaa Bilal had a ‘third eye’ implanted in the back of his head. I hope to pick up some of the implications for this in my digital essay for EDC which will consider ideas of the grotesque and online learning.

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Dec 08 2010

Linda Matthews

Eyes in the back of your head

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Wafaa Bilal provides an excellent example of a cyborg. He has had a third eye implanted into the back of his head as part or an artistic project. The images that are captured in this camera are sent to a museum in Doha, Qatar. This is part of an artistic statement linked to the prevalence of cameras and surveillance in society. To all intents and purposes this is expression of posthuman overstatement, perhaps even irony, as the means of the artistic expression, the third eye, is an excessive manifestation of the very intrusive technologies it sets out to highlight.

This third eye enhances the visual dimensions and perspectives available to Wafaa. Additionally, the technology has the capasity to store the images in a tangible way that is not biologically possible. Click the link below for more information about this project.

Link to Waffa Bilal and his 3rd eye project

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Dec 05 2010

Linda Matthews

Review of Week Eleven

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The focus for this week’s EDC activity has been the design and construction of my posthuman pedagogy. I decided that I would create a Prezi to represent my ideas. This is the third Prezi I have created within this unit, as I have used this tool to visualise my ideas on each of the given mini-projects for the unit. I recognise that I am not demonstrating a variety of presentation techniques, but I really like what Prezi can offer in terms of mixing images, words and video together in one space. I also find it a very easy to use. I have shared some of the work I have done using Prezi with my colleagues, and we are discussing how we can use it within teaching as an alternative to other presentation tools such as PowerPoint. I would be also really interested in showing this to students as they get ready to prepare their own work, so that they have more choice about the platforms available for presentations.  

Additionally, I decided on a focus for my digital essay this week, in which I plan to continue to work on the themes introduced in this block of study through a consideration of the Grotesque Online Learning/ Spaces. The inspiration for this choice can be linked back to the article Academetron, automaton, phantom:uncanny digital pedagogies, Bayne, 2010 which formed part of the reading from week 10.  It has been very interesting to review the ideas my peers have for their own work and I hope that there will be ongoing opportunities for us all view each other’s work.

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Dec 03 2010

Linda Matthews

Posthuman Pedagogy

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The theme of my posthuman pedagogy is the changing role of the teacher. I have used a Prezi to communicate my ideas (below) about how the posthuman condition decentralises the teacher and destabilizes pedagogies, for example students can use technology to bring other sources of experience and expertise into a classroom beyond the teacher. Pedagogy becomes unfixed and fluid, always in the process of been constructed, demolished then reconstructed as the learning/teaching becomes a more dynamic democratic process.

http://prezi.com/klnju32qpvhw/posthuman-pedagogy/

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Nov 28 2010

Linda Matthews

Review of Week Ten

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The focus of this week’s activity was to bring together the theme from the last block of study in EDC and to identify an example of posthuman pedagogy. The reading for this week has been illuminating and inspiring. Indeed, I have found that the reading materials provided for this unit have contributed significantly to my learning experience. I have not yet posted my own posthuman pedagogy although I have a number of ideas about the focus I can take, as posthumanism invites a complete reassessment of pedagogy and the learning/teaching dynamic. I have posted some initial ideas in response to the course reading and might explore the implications for ‘teacher as expert’ as a consequence of posthumanism.

This week has been a bit of a struggle, as I was still for 100% well for the first half of the week and I have been trying to catch up with my EDC work, as well as things that had slipped within my job last week. I remain a little behind as I have not yet published my posthuman pedagogy. In this respect I feel as if I am not in a position to contribute to the EDC community as I would like, i.e. in a timely way on the posthuman task. However, it is more important to contribute a well thought out idea, which reflects the high standards of work produced by my peers on the course, than to rush through this element.

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Nov 26 2010

Linda Matthews

Reflections on Posthuman Pedagogy Readings from this Week

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The idea of the ‘destabilized’ class room (Bayne, p.6) and the implications for teaching, learning and assessment for teachers in a posthuman world open up a world of new horizons and possibilities. I recognise in my own practice that the confines of a physical environment for learning e.g. a classroom, is no longer a contained space that I can manage. That ‘unfamiliarity of our textual and communicative practices’ (Bayne, p.6) allows for seepage of ‘other’ and ‘unexpected’ information and perspectives to arrive in the learning environment. Technologies, such as phones that connect to the internet, result in a posthuman infiltration in the classroom which can be  disquieting, disorienting, strange, anxiety-inducing, uncanny’ (Bayne,p.6). Students are able to bring in other perspectives and sources of information and expertise that are not their own through their self-management of technology. From a teaching perspective, these virtual infiltrations can be welcomed, unwelcome, unexpected,  but they are always unsettling.

Bayne describes ‘the crumbling away of material reality’ (p.8), as the dominance of learning as a real world activity, located and fixed in time and place is replaced by virtual learning spaces that are unfixed and infinite. This ‘crumbling’ is also manifest in teaching sessions in the ‘real’ world every time a student brings the virtual world into the class room. Learning is in the process of becoming something difference. Perhaps this difference will result in more democratic learning pedagogies and experiences as teachers adapt to the posthuman classroom. Richard Edward (2010, p.10) links posthumanism to experimentation and for learners and educators alike this is a rich opportunity for careful exploration and experimentation so that explanations of learning/pedagogy continue to make sense in a posthuman world.

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Nov 21 2010

Linda Matthews

Review of Week Nine

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For me this was the week that wasn’t. I succumbed to a very heavy cold, and was generally unwell. This can be clearly seen in my lifestream activity as my online activity is reduced. I did spend time reading through the materials for the week, of which the highlight for me was the debate moving from a consideration of the cyborg to the cognisphere.  I find my twitter posting of the 17th November to be a useful critical commentary and aid memoire. Indeed, on reflection I can identify how far I have developed my use of Twitter as a tool for my own learning. I find that I am a more active reader through the use of Twitter as I post immediate thought and critical questions. It is like having virtual post-it notes relating to a given task or reading.

Even in my comparative online absence there is a rich stream of learning to bring into this posting.  Historically, if I missed a face to face session due to illness, I would attempt to catch up on what I had missed by asking for a quick update from a peer and perhaps a copy of the missed notes. Drawing on my experiences from this unit, the opportunities to ‘catch up’ and for peer learning is much better, as I can access the work of my peers to review some of the key learning from the week. This open access to each other’s work provides excellent learning opportunities and has certainly helped me to keep connected to the course.

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Nov 14 2010

Linda Matthews

Review of Week Eight

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The focus of this week’s activities has been a consideration of the subtle differences and nuisances of posthuman and cyborg theories. The course reading and the critical questions helped to shape and guide some careful debate about these challenging ideas. It was necessary to read and re-read the articles in order to tease out the finer points relating to these theories.  The Wall Wisher helped to gather the group’s ideas about their own experiences of being posthuman. I found this activity to be illuminating and worthy of a more detailed reflection.  In order to participate in this Wall Wisher it was necessary for me to rethink and refigure myself from a human to a posthuman existence. I felt in doing this that I was pushing against an open door, as I was unexpectedly willing to accept that I exist in a posthuman reality and that my interactions with, through and against technology are not as unproblematic as I had previously thought. This is a new avenue of thinking that will inevitably reshape my perceptions of self within the environments I inhabit, as well as an incredibly powerful learning experience, which brings a theoretical perspective up close and very personal. 

As I write this summary I can see a silhouette of myself typing in my laptop screen which is a visual reminder of my connection with and vulnerability to technology. I simultaneously exist within and without the machine and the process of imputing my thoughts into this very posting is a reminder that the human vessel that contains the essence of me might not be as essential to my being as I have always thought.

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Nov 14 2010

Linda Matthews

What other connections might there be between cyborg theory and the pragmatics of online pedagogy and course design?

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‘Amplifying the ambiguities of the past tense are the ambiguities of the plural … an “I” transformed into the “we” of autonomous agents operating together to make a self. The infectious power of this way of thinking gives “we” a performative dimension. People become posthuman because they think they are posthuman’ (Hayles, 1999, p.6). Reflecting on this quotation I can see links to the plurality of identities that I inhabit as a participant of this MSc as part of my learning experience. The course is designed in such a way that it is necessary to create a number of avatars, as a student, in order to inhabit the various online learning spaces used for the course (e.g. second life, twitter etc). In this way, I am not presented to my peers at any point on the course (or them to me) as a unified embodied “I”, rather, my multiple, online, disembodied identities create a community of self a “we”. This “we” is playful and adaptive as different online spaces have different restrictions, so through a ‘performative dimension,’ mentioned by Hayles above, it is possible to inhabit and communicate in a plurality of ways. This has an unmistakable implication for traditional pedagogies, where the learner is perceived as an embodied “I” as online pedagogies informed by posthumaiam, encourage a plurality and fragmentation of the representations of self.

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