Presenter: Professor Ray Land, Durham University UK
This session will argue that the increasing speed of operation of digital knowledge is likely to transform e-learning in three key ways.
Firstly digital technologies, predicated on fast time, are already transforming the ways in which knowledge is both generated and disseminated in a manner quite different from that of traditional print culture (predicated on slow time) with which universities have been imbricated for centuries. These changes are giving rise both to new digital pedagogies and new forms of educational institution.
Secondly, open access to digital learning environments and digital scholarship, through its unprecedented capacity for infinite re-use, revision, remixing and redistribution, can deliver qualitatively different practices both in research and in higher education pedagogy. Given the unique characteristic of digital items – that the marginal cost of their storage, reproduction and distribution is to all extent zero –this affords an opportunity to satisfy everyone’s right to get as much education as they desire and to reclaim the original purpose of scholarship – that it be built upon and not locked up behind paywalls. Careful open licensing of intellectual property, along with appropriate policy measures (requiring changed legislation, altered regulation and new funder mandates) can effect a shift in higher education culture to bring in research, teaching and publication practices that are non-rivalrous, predicated on openness, with significantly, a new ethics of knowledge sharing. The points of rift that are already surfacing in this area however may also give rise to a number of unintended consequences and undesirable risks, which will be explored in the session.
Finally the session will explore how, in the next few decades, computers with massively increased processing power, embedded everywhere – in walls, tables, chairs, cars, clothing, jewellery, food and bodies – will lead to a blurring of human and machine intelligence. The session will consider the educational and ethical consequences of such a shift.
Ray Land is Professor of Higher Education at Durham University and Director of Durham’s Centre for Academic Practice. He previously held similar positions at the Universities of Strathclyde, Coventry and Edinburgh. He has been a higher education consultant for the OECD and the European Commission and is currently involved in two EC higher education projects. He has published widely in the field of educational research, including two co-edited books on learning technology – Education in Cyberspace (RoutledgeFalmer 2005) and Digital Difference: perspectives on online learning (Sense 2011). He has also produced several volumes on the theme of threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge, including the most recent Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning (Sense 2010).
Mathews Building, Level 3, room 308