Blog Post

Last Bastions: The Promise and Problems of Digital Learning in Higher Education

Ok, here we go again, for the Last Bastions session: Promises and Problems of Digital Learning in Higher Education. I'll be live-blogging this one too if my battery cooperates (it's all about finding the plug outlets). Coming to you yet again from the Digital Media & Learning Conference: Diversifying Participation at UC San Diego's CalLit2 place.

Elizabeth Losh, Lev Manovich, Todd Presner, Diane Harley, Holly Willis

Diane Harley: interested in the costs and benefits of integrating new media. Long history at UC Berkeley, interested in open access and open education resource management. Study movements and change, not an advocate of anything in particular. Tendency to focus on technology du jour, universal access, or game-changing will somehow do away with university. These calls for eliminating university of changing it, they tend to gloss over complexity of higher education. And many kinds of students that are served by higher education. It's about liberal arts colleges, trade schools, University of Phoenix, not just Harvard, Berkeley. What are the goals, needs of students. Where do they go to further their ambitions. It's important to not underestimate the degree and functions of higher ed, global markets, global competitiveness, workforce training. This panel is about universities. Different from K-12, community colleges, because research institutions have an emphasis on research, including well-funded science. They award higher degrees, like JDs, PhDs, very selective undergraduate and graduate students. Engages in extension programs, provide remediation, socialization and are important in the creation of the elites. One question important to ask: among many functions of the university, their functions, where they are going, including assault from hi-tech interests. What functions of the university can be done exclusively online. Pertinent because U of C is considering the possibility of offering a fully online degree. (WOW.) Are we talking about creating a second-class degree? Faculty won't allow this without a really big fight. Research faculty that we talk to in seven fields, we asked about scholarly communication habits, in process of doing research and final archival publications. Astrophysics, archaeology, political science, music (missed the others). Found out that for tenure and promotion, scholarly habits are quite fixed: peer-reviewed publications (full-stop). Without that record, without a portfolio, none of the other things matter. So the conclusions for interdisciplinary traditions, this scholarly communication tends to stomp on dreams of digital media. Highly competitive. Results around questions of sharing: scholars share. You can't have scholarship without communicating and sharing. But what do they share, when, why don't they share? Early half-baked work is universally not shared publicly. Most ideas are shared among trusted colleagues, then widening concentric circles of trust. Young scholars are particularly leery of sharing ideas. Understandably. Some disciplines have different profiles for sharing.

Holly Willis: (a DML 2008 winner, and on another DML 2009 project) Literacies for the Near Future. (Institute of Multimedia Literacy). Housed in School of Cinematic Arts at University of Southern California. Mandate is to see how faculty might re-think their teaching, and how students might re-think their projects and research. Have those two groups work in tandem to inform each other. Graduate student experience was not as successful for many reasons. Will do a meta-analysis first: what strikes me is that is happening despite what is happening, what we have learned over the past decades. More than a decade of theory and practice of defining new literacies (New London Group: multiliteracies, social futures, articulation).

Refers to slide with: Make/Think at AIGA conference, Oct. 2009. "Design, understood as a systematic, collaborative way of addressing problems and transforming possiblities is a prime candidate for the new set of studies needed to revitalize higher education." Elizabeth Coleman, Bennington College.

Do we continue with additive ideas of literacy: Digital literacy, network literacy, research literacy, attention literacy, design literacy, collaboration, participation visual argumentation, sonic literacy, information visuzliation literacy.

OR: "a machine for the motion of parts." Alex Galloway, Gaming: On Algorithmic Culture. Instead of computer-based actions, think about algorithmic unfolding. Relinquish these linear educational practices. "Authoring" is now really a process of "defining the rules for system behavior." (Noah WardripFruin, Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games and Software.)

(can't hear everything Holly is saying, darn.) I think she is referencing different PhD students in the IML and what projects they are working on.

Slide with: Jeff Watson: "This site helps me to keep track of what's happening in the community without having to flip through a thwack of Twitter lists, Google Readers folders, blogs, and searches. I have a little bit of PHP and WordPress know-how, so I decided to make a dedicated site that would gather all that material into one place. I also felt like I wanted to contribute something useful to a community that has been very inspiring..."(missed it).

Liz Losh: The Digital Higher Ed Project. In California, the digital media and learning space is very exciting. This project isn't up yet, but will be soon. Writing Director for Humanities Core Course, and worry about how we replicate the existing structures of learning (shot of Second Life with desks and chalkboards for student learning).

Interface Rhetorics: The Cultural Analytics Project. Rethinking the lecture model.(missed the URL)

Command Center and Back Channel: The Institute for Multimedia Literacy:

(Not as hierarchical as you would think. People have to do a lot of shifting and mvoing of information if people don't work together.)

Rapid Prototyping:,, http://blogs?

Playable simulations, procedural literacy, object-oriented ontology, database mash-ups, network epistemologies, information aesthetics, tactical media, software studies...

Procedural literacy: ability to read and write processes, to engage procedural representation and aesthetics, to understand the interplay between the cultrally-embedded practices of human meaning-making.

Procedural literacy can also mean learning how to cheat. Easy to do! Cheat in games, cheat by plagiarizing.

Ok, I give up! Can't type fast enough, going to head to #dml2010 to try and make sense of 140 character literacy.


Todd Presner of Hypercities (another DML 2008 winner):



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