My keynote slides for Confluence 2023 – Heads in the clouds: being human in the age of cloud computing

 heads in cloudsThese are the slides from my keynote today (or, in my land, yesterday) at Confluence 2023, hosted by Amity University in India. It was a cloud computing conference, so quite a way outside my area of greatest expertise, but it gave me a chance to apply the theory of technology developed in my forthcoming book  to a different context. The illustrations for the slides are the result of a conversation between me and MidJourney (more of an argument that MidJourney tended to win) which is quite a nice illustration of the interplay of hard and soft technologies, the adjacent possible, soft technique, and so on.

Unsurprisingly, because education is a fundamentally technological phenomenon, much the same principles that apply to education also apply to cloud computing, such as: build from small, hard pieces; valorize openness, diversity and connection; seek the adjacent possible; the whole assembly is the only thing that matters and so the central principle that how you do it matters far more than what you do.

Slides from my Confluence 2023 keynote

Learning, Technology, and Technique

This is my latest paper, Learning, Technology, and Technique, in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (Vol. 48 No. 1, 2022).

Essentially, because this was what I was invited to do, the paper shrinks down over 10,000-words from my article Educational technology: what it is and how it works (itself a very condensed summary of my forthcoming book, due out Spring 2023) to under 4,000 words that, I hope, more succinctly capture most of the main points of the earlier paper. I’ve learned quite a bit from the many responses to the earlier paper I received, and from the many conversations that ensued – thank you, all who generously shared their thoughts – so it is not quite the same as the original. I hope this one is better. In particular, I think/hope that this paper is much clearer about the nature and importance of technique than the older paper, and about the distinction between soft and hard technologies, both of which seemed to be the most misunderstood aspects of the original. There is, of course, less detail in the arguments and a few aspects of the theory (notably relating to distributed cognition) are more focused on pragmatic examples, but most are still there, or implied. It is also a fully open paper, not just available for online reading, so please freely download it, and share it as you will.

Here’s the abstract:

To be human is to be a user, a creator, a participant, and a co-participant in a richly entangled tapestry of technologies – from computers to pedagogical methods – that make us who we are as much as our genes. The uses we make of technologies are themselves, nearly always, also technologies, techniques we add to the entangled mix to create new assemblies. The technology of greatest interest is thus not any of the technologies that form that assembly, but the assembly itself. Designated teachers are never alone in creating the assembly that teaches. The technology of learning almost always involves the co-participation of countless others, notably learners themselves but also the creators of systems, artifacts, tools, and environments with and in which it occurs. Using these foundations, this paper presents a framework for understanding the technological nature of learning and teaching, through which it is possible to explain and predict a wide range of phenomena, from the value of one-to-one tutorials, to the inadequacy of learning style theories as a basis for teaching, and to see education not as a machine made of methods, tools, and systems but as a complex, creative, emergent collective unfolding that both makes us, and is made of us.

Originally posted at: https://landing.athabascau.ca/bookmarks/view/14622408/my-latest-paper-learning-technology-and-technique-now-online-in-the-canadian-journal-of-learning-and-technology