22 SES 05 D, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
How does e-learning (digital, global) affect the new paradigm of the EHEA?
How is access to freedom, education and development for all affected when classroom teaching and learning move into the (literally) superficial and accelerated world of the electronic medium (Flusser, 1999; 2007)?
Can we re-think e-learning in the context of what new knowledge might be and mean to human identity, individually and as social actors?
E-learning’s ready access appears to open up education for all. In times of austerity, institutions see e-learning as a digital Eden (Loader, 1997, p. 4), one where the fruit is plentiful year round (24/7 . . . and from anywhere). However, the fruit of e-learning often lacks sustenance because the medium remains oriented to one- (or, strictly speaking, two-) dimensional information “transmission” (Miller &Sellar, 1985) and “interpassivity” (Žižek, 2010) and does not embrace the transformative dimensions of the medium and its interactivity. If there are savings to be made in going digital, they must not be made at the expense of “health-ful” pedagogy, not when the emerging European Higher Education Area (EHEA) clearly needs a pedagogical agenda. We suggest that it is helpful to think backwards to move forwards; maybe we have to consider what we have achieved before moving on (Blake et al, 1998). E-learning is global, digital, with open access aligned with Bologna Process principles. As the Bologna Process attempts to harmonize education in the European Union, e-learning is a pedagogical reality that will radically affect the process, and be affected by it. At the level of teaching and learning practice, digital space is a borderland space full of exciting potential and risks. Passivity—the interpassivity into which “users” are easily tempted—is a real pedagogical problem.
Language is part of the problem: e-learning borrows the barren lexicon of information science, talking of users, usage, usability (Tsakonas&Papatheodorou, 2006), more appropriate from a post-industrial information society (Bell, 1973) regarding information-seeking and affordances (Pirolli& Card, 1999). Deep e-learning, to adapt Marton&Saljo (1976), requires a more fecund lexicon: not only the language of sacred narrative, but that of the digitas (“civitas, digital acts, habitus, and the digits we call our fingers” [Samuels, 2008, p. 1]), the “digital agora” (Walters et al., 1998), and“e-tivity” (“active and interactive online learning” [Salmon, 2002, p. 1]).
We thus turned to classical and medieval mnemotechnics, systems for structuring knowledge on the premise that the subject learns—and grows—by “bodying forth” their understanding. We learnt that to transfer the benefits of interactivity in face-to-face teaching and learning (Brookfield, 2006), e-learning must be performative rather than informative, a movement from knowing towards knowing how: hands on; to be truly transformative of academic subjectivity, e-learning must embrace “life on the screen” (Turkle, 1995). Only then can e-learning be truly interactive; this is learning as “e-tivity,” where learners (and teachers) enact the skills they hope to learn (or teach). Aristotle had it right: “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them” (1998, pp. 28-29).
Aristotle. (1998). The Nichomachean ethics (D. Ross, Trans.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Blake, N., Smeyers, P., Smith, R. & Sandish, P. (1998). Thinking again: Education after Postmodernism. Londres: Bergin & Garvey. Bell, D. (1973). The coming of post-industrial society: A venture in social forecasting. New York: Basic Books. Brookfield, S. D. (2006). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco:Jossey-Bass. Carruthers, M. (2008). The book of memory: A study of memory in medieval culture. 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Flusser, V. (2007, March). Crisis of linearity (AdelheidMers, Trans.). Bootprint, 1(1), 19-21. Retrieved from http://bootscontemporaryartspace.org/downloads/BP1_1.pdf. Flusser, V. (1999). The shape of things: A philosophy of design. London: Reaktion. Kurubacak, G.,& Yuzer, T. V. (2011). Finding liberation and social equality in transformative online education. Handbook of research on transformative online education and liberation: Models for social equality (pp. 1-13). Retrievedfrom http://site.ebrary.com/lib/auckland/Doc?id=10443288 Loader, B. D. (1997). The governance of cyberspace: Politics, technology and global restructuring. London: Routledge. Marton, F.,& R. Saljo (1976). On qualitative differences in learning: Outcome and process. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 4-11. Miller, J. P., & Sellar, W. (1985). Curriculum: Perspectives and practice. New York: Longman. Pirolli, P., & Card, S. K. (1999). Information foraging. Psychological Review, 106, 643-675. Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities: The key to active online learning. London: Kogan-Page. Samuels, L. (2008, November). Gaps, vexes, and the digitas. Seminar, English Department, University of California at Santa Barbara. Tsakonas, G., &Papatheodorou, C. (2006). Analysing and evaluating usefulness and usability in electronic information services. Journal of Information Science, 32,400-419. Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster. Walters, C., Conley, M., & Alexander, C. (1998). The digital agora: Using technology for learning in the social sciences.Communications of the ACM41, 50-57. Žižek, S. (2010). The interpassive subject.The European Graduate School.Retrieved from http://www.egs.edu/faculty/slavoj-zizek/articles/the-interpassive-subject/
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