Monday, 18 February 2013

E-Learning and Digital Cultures (#edcmooc) - Being Human, Week 3: Reasserting the Human


This week I moved on to the second part of the E-learning and Digital Cultures course, which focuses on the concept of being human. In particular it looks at the implications for education of the meaning of humanity within an increasingly digital culture, and how this will pan out in the future.

The first part of ‘Being Human’ is about the supposed threat to ‘the human’ and how to reassert the essential nature of humanity – if indeed there is such a thing. I found the videos for this week quite interesting in this respect. I didn’t like the computer-generated nature of the Toyota advert and it reminded me of the new Andrex puppy ad – the animated puppy being infinitely inferior to the original, real puppy. The BT advert was more interesting from a ‘being human’ perspective, seemingly claiming that speaking on the phone is somehow more ‘human’ than texting, emailing or computer messaging. Personally I absolutely detest speaking on the phone and will use pretty much any other communication method in preference: emailing, texting, letter-writing, meeting up in person… while I can understand the advantage of telephone conversations in the sense that you can hear the other person’s voice, I don’t think that they are necessarily any more ‘human’ than other forms of communication. I think a well-written email or even a traditional letter can convey much more personality and emotion.

Many of this week’s texts were philosophical in nature and I found them quite thought-provoking. Steve Fuller’s talk on defining humanity1 provided a useful overview of the issues raised; this and Neil Badmington’s discussion of posthumanism2 made me question what I thought about humanity. The articles looking at the ‘human’ element in the context of education were the most fascinating, contrasting Kolowich’s piece on developing video and audio as ways to deliver learning online with Monke’s piece lamenting the use of computers as educational tools for young children. This latter piece reminded me of the ‘World Made of Glass’ video from last week, in which children seemed rather detached from the natural world. Kolowich’s piece in some ways reminded me of the BT advert, claiming that some forms of communication are better or more worthwhile than others. Are video and audio more ‘human’ than written text?

This week raised some interesting questions which I am still thinking about, and I look forward to the final week which explores the other side of the ‘being human’ question.





1Fuller, Steve. Humanity 2.0: defining humanity – Steve Fuller’s TEDx Warwick talk (24:08), http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/podcasts/media/more/tedx?podcastItem=steve_fuller.mp4 [Accessed 18 February 2013].

2Badmington, Neil (2000). Introduction: approaching posthumanism. Posthumanism. Houndmills; New York: Palgrave.  http://www.palgrave.com/PDFs/0333765389.pdf. [Accessed 18 February 2013].

3Kolowich, S (2010). The Human Element. Inside Higher Ed. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/03/29/lms. [Accessed 18 February 2013].

4Monke, L. (2004).The Human Touch, EducationNext http://educationnext.org/thehumantouch/. [Accessed 18 February 2013].

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