Welcome to E-Learning and Digital Cultures

Image by wonderlane. Creative Commons license CC:BY

A very warm welcome to E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (EDCMOOC)! We are Jeremy Knox, Siân Bayne, Hamish Macleod, Jen Ross and Christine Sinclair, from the University of Edinburgh, and we are delighted that you are here. We know already that this group is diverse, and your reasons for signing up for the MOOC are likely to be equally diverse. We hope you will find that EDCMOOC and its resources, activities and social elements offers a good foundation for achieving a variety of goals. Those goals might include: gaining new perspectives on e-learning; experiencing a MOOC; networking with some of the fascinating people from all over the world who are signed up; experimenting with digital and visual ways of representing academic knowledge; and exploring the connections between education, learning and digital cultures.

But what do we mean by digital culture? Mark Deuze (2006) draws from Baumann (1999) to define two aspects of culture - the history or heritage of a group, which shapes its members' lives and experiences, and the evolving performance of that heritage, which is never the same twice (p.73). Deuze suggests that digital culture shapes not only our online experiences and interactions, but also bleeds into offline life, because it so powerfully affects institutions, practices of information creation and sharing, and patterns of communication.

This definition deliberately doesn't distinguish between the concepts of 'high' and 'low' culture which suggest that there are judgements of quality to be made about how we 'perform' culture. Such debates about quality do inform quite a lot of conversation around the value (or otherwise) of the web though, and whether we are being enriched or impoverished by the mass participation and self publishing that is driving this particular moment in the history of digital culture. Some of our readings will touch on these debates, and we'll invite you to reflect on the implications for learning, teaching and education of these different positions.

How the course works
In each two-week block of the MOOC we will consider a key theme emerging from popular and digital culture. First we will look at utopias and dystopias and second, we will focus on being human in a digital age. Throughout, we will be discussing how these broad themes relate to the ways in which we think about online education.

All weeks will follow a similar pattern in terms of course content:

  1. Popular cultures: In our weekly ‘film festival’ we will watch and discuss a cluster of film clips which explore the week’s themes from within the context of popular and digital culture.
  2. Ideas and interpretations: We will do some theory-related reading that further explores the key theme. In most weeks there will be one ‘core’ reading and one ‘advanced’ reading – do this one if you want to probe further into the theoretical dimensions of the topic. We recommend doing the advanced reading, but there is no requirement to do so.
  3. Perspectives on education: We will consider particular views on how the week’s themes might be played out in discussions of education and e-learning.
Some of the links between the clusters of readings, films and lectures we offer you will be obvious - others will be more subtle. Some you might find convincing, others tenuous. This approach opens up some quite surprising insights by taking an interdisciplinary approach to the many connections between popular, theoretical and educational responses to digital culture.

The EDCMOOC team
Dr Jen Ross Dr Christine Sinclair Dr Hamish Macleod Prof. Sian Bayne Jeremy Knox

Find out more about our work with the MSc in Digital Education here.

Baumann, G. 1999. The multicultural riddle: Rethinking national, ethnic, and religious identities. London: Routledge.
Deuze, M. (2006). Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture. The Information Society, 22, 63-75.
Last modified: Friday, 26 June 2015, 9:52 AM