I have just completed my day of planning for the symposium which is in one week’s time. Below are the images for my slideshow followed by my discussion revolving the questions/areas that need to be covered.
Slide 2. How your work relates to the forefront in your field?
My discipline, Screen Cultures, explores the nature of modern life and how technology defines our experiences in a time when digital media is prominent in the way we live our lives. Above all else though, Screen Cultures is about the study of the cultural aspect of our journey from paper to screen technology, and how that journey shapes how we see and understand our world. Screen Cultures is concerned with the devices we use to entertain, to educate and inform ourselves and, essentially, in 2015 the Internet is at the hub of everything media. Screen Cultures in many ways is about convergent cultures.
My project begins with and draws on Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows (2010) in which he provides a commentary about our immersion into screen based hypertexts and the comparisons this has with paper based reading, and how both shape our mind and view of the world. Carr argues that with the shift from paper to screen there has been a significant change in the way we think, remember and experience cognitive processes.
This therefore is right at the forefront of my field and is concerned with the very nature of my degree.
Slide 3. How have you identified the forefront of your field in terms of: people & key works?
Nicholas Carr (John Naughton similarly discusses) In his 2010 book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr, an American author whose work covers technology, business and culture discusses his experience with the Internet in the last 10 years and explains how it has changed the way his brain receives information. He identifies that now he will find his mind wondering off and argues that it is his obsession and reliance on the Internet that has caused this change. He states that the net is a tool which houses an abundance of information but because of its infrastructure we find ourselves intercepting small pieces of information which are often not thoroughly developed. It is this concept that he ultimately argues is the result of us living in ‘the shallows’ of the medium.
Susan Greenfield (Marc Prensky). Both contribute to the current debate about the way our brain processes cognitive activity and behaviour that are shaped by dealing with information online. She believes technology is having an impact on the brain and states that the brain is susceptible to acclimatise to its environment and with the environment so drastically changing (our activity online and its increasing dominance) – this causes unprecedented effects to the development of our brains.
Slide 4. How have you identified the forefront of your field in terms of: current debates and ideas.
When we think about using the Internet as a tool for learning, for many of us we can acknowledge how this is achievable. However I think the affordances the Internet offers in terms of learning and providing us with information are seriously undervalued. In many ways I think they are undervalued because individuals are unaware of the potential that the Internet facilitates and also due to the fact that they are unaware of how to harness these possibilities.
I also came across two government documents, the first from the ‘department of employment and learning’ and the second published by the authority of the ‘London House of Lords’. The first document concerns the Interest of solely E- learning strategies whilst the last one regards ‘The UK’s digital future and credits significant discussion to that of the Internet’s importance in developing education. This alone highlights the currency and relevance of this subject matter.
I have also looked at Massive open online courses and came across how they were being implemented in Africa through the African open university. It is very recently that these open courses have experienced exponential growth and as a result they have gained interest from governments. It is very plausible to say that in lower economically developed countries in Africa the need for education is so important. Poverty, violence, extremism – One of the roots of these problems is lack of education. Taking this statement into account illustrates just how important education is and more so in countries which lack the opportunity’s to do so.
eLearning has become high on governments agendas as they begin to understand the monumental development in Africa that online learning could encourage. 19 African countries have signed a charter that establishes the AVU as an intergovernmental organisation and the African Union has prioritised virtual learning in its long-term development strategy which highlights the increasing demand and importance of online learning.
Slide 5. How the forefront you have identified relates to commercial practice’s including technologies and processes.
Online learning is at forefront in that it can disrupt (and radically change) existing ‘economies’ of learning. The financial models by which universities operate and how government manage the workforce of education. Also the way ideas are spread and promoted are commercial practices which are influenced by open sources of information. Information which is distributed by the web challenge the commercial industries of physical artefacts. For example, Wikipedia, blogs, YouTube and eBooks all in some way diminish the value of a traditional book. The same can be said for newspapers and magazines because of online news and fan base communities. Online content presents convenience and immediacy which rank high and appeal to the mass. Finally, the nature of knowledge has changed. No longer is it as important or necessary to remember and recall information, but how easily you can find it and what else you find on the way. It used to be that knowledge was power but in many ways, communication and the ability to be able to find new things has replaced that and this is a huge issue underlying the shift from paper to screen.