Speaker: Dr. Michael Thomas / Haruki Dean
Introduction: Heike Philp / Gwen Gwasi
Michael Thomas is a Professor of Education with a focus on digital learning, social justice, social mobility and the student experience. I’m a Principal Fellow of the HEA and hold two PhDs, one from the Newcastle University and a second from Lancaster University. He has studied for an MBA in Educational Management at the University of Leicester, M.Ed at Manchester University, an MA at Newcastle University and change leadership at Cornell University. He has worked at eight universities in Germany, Japan and the UK, from ancient, to Russell Group to modern, and led large, multinational research groups and project teams.
Abstract: Many in the field of digital education have been discussing the potential of learning technologies with increasing regularity over the last three decades. Regardless of much of the hyperbole and industry-led tech-evangelism, it has made few inroads into main stream curricula and assessment practices, and the history of educational technology tells a story of ‘overhype and underuse’, a constantly changing landscape of the latest tech gadgets which have changed (or even disappeared) by the time the research study has been concluded.
Anyone suggesting at any point this time last year that every school and university would, within a matter of a couple of weeks, take their entire course portfolio online would not have been believed – even taking one f2f course online would have been met in some contexts with massive resistance from teachers, learners and parents. The current public health crisis has indeed brought about a rapid ‘revolution’ that many commentators have been evangelising about for some time. In many cases however it has resulted in a form of ‘remote teaching’, not online pedagogy. Indeed, a key question for all of us in education once this crisis is ‘over’, will be what the legacy of this ‘exodus to online education’ is for the future of educational provision within an increasingly neoliberal international marketplace?
In relation to virtual worlds, while Castronova talked of an ‘exodus’ to the virtual world’ over a decade ago, they have remained a ‘very special interest’ rather a mainstream phenomenon. Does this moment of ‘online education’ revive interest in their potential to ‘enhance’ learning and ‘transform’ teaching for all concerned, all of the time? Or does this ‘event’ of the Corona virus represent a ‘Ctrl+Alt+Delete moment’ in which we must all reflect in education on our ‘globalised’ practice and research and consider alternatives based not only on the discourse of endless digital innovation and enhancement, but on an agenda and approach to education based on social justice, sustainability and civic engagement? While everyone is ‘doing education’ online with platforms such as Zoom and Skype, what does the research on virtual worlds tell us about the most suitable pedagogical approaches to align with a sustainability agenda?
Accessibility: Voice to text transcription