Taking the internet seriously for learning and teaching

I tried out Prezi for the first time at an invited talk at our ‘ICT visioning day’ on Friday. I figured that if I was going to talk about ‘Taking the internet seriously for learning and teaching’ that the first move in that direction would be to ditch Powerpoint for some kind of online presentation tool. I was aware of the presentation tool in Google Docs but that is basically .ppt in the Google Apps space. Prezi seemed to offer something more visionary and non-linear – but I had a steep learning curve and not much time to cobble together a presentation..

I took the title for the talk from an article on the Edge by David Gelernter.  I was reading this when I got the email inviting participation at the visioning day so I thought I would explore some implications for learning and teaching of what Gelernter was saying.  The main points I was trying to make on the day were:

1. As Gelernter says – “The Internet’s future is not Web 2.0 or 200.0 but the post-Web, where time instead of space is the organizing principle — instead of many stained-glass windows, instead of information laid out in space, like vegetables at a market — the Net will be many streams of information flowing through time. The Cybersphere as a whole equals every stream in the Internet blended together: the whole world telling its own story.”  Now there are profound implications for higher education there – not the least of which for me is the resonance between this vision and an ecological understanding of learning.

2. In her analysis of internet culture and identity Sherry Turkle argued that the earlier theories of Jacques Lacan were given concrete and immediate form in the worlds of online multiplayer chat games, where users adopted different identities in the medium of onscreen text.  The internet made Lacanian theory visible in a compelling and unexpected way.  In the same sense one could argue that the discourses of phenomenography, the relational perspective, and the systems view of constructive alignment are forerunners of a new understanding of learning ­­– now manifesting via the internet in the increasingly networked world of a university that is rapidly changing in response to new technologies, global issues, and increasing demands for relevance and innovation in the curriculum.  So the internet makes the deep/surface understanding of learning visible in a compelling and unexpected way – pointing towards the kinds of pedagogy that best fit with the affordances of a fluid electronic medium that is many streams of information flowing through time.

So having having shared some of my own ‘lifestreams’, at the end of the talk I wanted to ground the theoretical perspective in a more practical strategic model for the institution that could begin to shift development in the appropriate direction.  There is an excellent approach at the University of New South Wales called TELT (Teaching and Learning Enabled by Technology) – so I tweaked this a bit and came up with LATENT (Learning and Teaching Enabled by New Technology) to foreground the idea that new approaches will always be ‘latent’ in the sense of some potential yet to be fulfilled – and also in the technical sense of ‘latency’ as a time-lag between signal generation and reception (ie. the ever-present distance between an educational innovation and its adoption in the mainstream).  This connects with Ian Gibson’s ‘last mile’ concept.

The prezi is really rough and I struggled with the zooming and scaling – but here it is.  Hopefully a start for something more substantial and coherent as I develop a HERDSA paper and some strategic planning over the next few weeks…

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