Dr Ben Williamson is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the Edinburgh Futures Institute and the Research Centre in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh, with research interests in digital technologies and data in education policy and practice.
Ben’s current research concentrates on Higher Education data infrastructures and software platforms for performance measurement of universities, and on the development of novel technologies and methods for gathering ‘intimate’ biological data related to education, including biometrics, neurotechnologies, and bioinformatics. He examines these developments from the perspective of science and technology studies, policy analysis, digital sociology, and critical data studies, in order to untangle the social, technical, economic and political work involved in their production and their subsequent implications for a range of education practices and settings.
Ben’s book Big Data in Education: The digital future of learning, policy and practice was published by Sage in 2017, and Ben is a co-editor of the journal Learning, Media and Technology. He maintains a research blog at codeactsineducation.wordpress.com and on Twitter he is @BenPatrickWill.
Networked Learning Bodies: making learners machine readable through psychodata, brain data and biodata
Ben Williamson, University of Edinburgh
Networked technologies have been central to the advance of data infrastructures and analytics in education, as they permit the movement of data from sites of learning to centres of digital analysis and back. Recently, interests in educational data analytics have begun to merge with practices and technologies from the human sciences, especially the psy-sciences, neuroscience, and genomics. New forms of analysis are being made possible through biometrics, neurotechnologies, and bioinformatics. These advances make the human body and life itself ‘machine readable’ as signals of underlying biological processes, and are making the body of the learner intelligible in new ways through their ‘psychodata’, ‘brain data’ and ‘biodata’. In this presentation, I explore how ‘networked learning bodies’ are produced through emerging assemblages of biometrics, neurotechnologies and bioinformatics—bodies that are understood as complex biological systems, but are also produced through analyses and calculations performed on traces in databases. Networked learning bodies appear as the outcome of computational analyses that depend on data infrastructures, analytics algorithms and the apparatuses of new digital laboratories for educational research, knowledge production, and policy influence. These developments are poised to transform how educational research is conducted, and how the bodies and lives of students are perceived as objects of policy and practice.
Lesley Gourlay is a Professor of Education in the department of Culture Communication and Media at UCL Institute of Education, London, where she served as Head of Department, 2014-2018. Her scholarship focuses on the interplay between technologies and the knowledge practices of students and academics, with a particular emphasis on textual practices and the digital. Her recent theoretical work has focused on sociomaterial and posthuman perspectives on engagement in the university, exploring themes of space, inscription, nonhuman agency, and digital media. Lesley is also the Director of the Academic Writing Centre at UCL IOE, and chair of the IOE Refugee Education Working Group. She is a contributor to national and global debates surrounding digital literacy education, and serves on the editorial boards of several international higher education educational and technology journals.
Why the online lecture is not a lecture: presence, absence and performance.
Lesley Gourlay, University College London Institute of Education
The face-to-face lecture is often held up as an example of all that is retrograde, elitist, and ‘teacher centred’ in higher education, unfavourably compared with the allegedly more dynamic and ‘transformative’ potentials of the digital. This contrast is of particular relevance in the current period of ‘lockdown’ due to the Covid 19 crisis, where this discourse of mediatic ‘rupture’ has arguably intensified. In this talk I will explore these ideas in detail, with reference to Biesta’s (2012) concept of learnification, and Erving Goffman’s (1981) concept of lecturer selves. I will argue that by casting the students as ‘passive’, inert listeners, a fundamental category error is committed, leading to a miscasting of the live lecture as essentially a broadcast event. I contend that even the most apparently ‘traditional’ and ‘teacher-centred’ lecture is in its essence intensely interactive, due to two features: focused co-presence and ephemerality (Gourlay 2020). I go on to explore how the influence of digital technology has already altered the live lecture, and argue that the permeation of digital technology has destabilised these essential features. I will illustrate this with an analysis of the digital epistemic practices of the ‘flipped classroom’, arguing that the online input element is essentially a broadcast which only resembles a lecture, but is in fact a performance event reduced to pure transfer, often of a fixed and pre-prepared text which strips out the complexity of Goffman’s selves, and may generate a disciplining effect on students’ subjectivities and subsequent embodied and linguistic practices. The implications of this analysis and how we might respond in the contemporary period of online teaching will be discussed.
Biesta, G. 2012. Giving teaching back to education: responding to the disappearance of the teacher. Phenomenology and Practice 6(2): 35-49.
Goffman, E. 1981. Forms of Talk. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Gourlay, L. 2020 (In press). Posthumanism and the Digital University: Bodies, Texts and Materialities. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Rikke Toft Nørgård
Rikke Toft Nørgård is Associate Professor in Educational Design and Technology at the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University (AU). She is also in a steering committee member of the Center for Higher Education Futures, AU and in the organising committee for the Oxford Ethnography & Education Conference. Her research focuses on the theoretical intersections and practical applications of philosophy of technology, design thinking, critical pedagogy and higher education futures. She is presently involved in the research and development projects Play&Learn DigiMedia (on teachers use of digital media in education), VASE (on value sensitive design in higher education), IGNITE (on design thinking and making as a way of teaching and learning in higher education and STAK (on students’ academic digital competencies in higher education). Rikke also serves on the Academic Council at Arts, AU as well as the editorial or advisory board of international higher education and technology publications.
She can be found on Twitter as @RikkeToftN and on LinkedIn as Rikke Toft Nørgård
Designing for computational creativity and technological imagination with teachers across and within the disciplines
Rikke Toft Nørgård
This presentation highlights the ongoing power struggles with and around technology currently pervading the conceptualization and practice of computational thinking and technological literacy in education. These struggles impact practitioners, developers and researchers on all educational levels. The presentation shines a light on this ongoing power struggle over who gets to define the field and some of its potential consequences for and impact on education, educators and educational research and development. It then goes on to provide a broader framework and practice that are connected to and coming from the disciplinary and pedagogical heart of educators and where they are invited to ‘dare to dream’. The aim is to foster a space for daring, productive and imaginative struggles with technology where educators, educational developers and researchers network, learn and dream together across the disciplines in ways that are respectful, empathic and inclusive towards differences in understanding, design and practice.