Learning in the post-digital age #DIWSUSSEX

Digital Innovation Week

Digital Innovation Week 28 November – 2 December 2016

In  this first of five blog posts that we’ll be publishing as part of Digital Innovation Week here at the University of Sussex we interview Professor Peter Hartley ahead of an invited seminar he will be delivering here at the University on Tuesday the 29th of November alongside Professor Keith Smyth. The title of their seminar is ‘Opportunities and Challenges in the Post-Digital Age’ and we started by asking Peter exactly what he meant by the term ‘post-digital’. 

Keith Smyth and Peter Hartley

Prof. Keith Smyth and Prof. Peter Hartley

Q1: Your seminar will explore the challenges and opportunities facing universities as we move into the post-digital age. What do you mean by ‘post-digital’?

There is quite a longstanding debate on this as you might expect. For a brief introduction, I would recommend the blog post by Adam Tinworth (http://nextconf.eu/2012/01/what-is-post-digital/ ).
For a short definition, I would go with the quote from Fraser Speirs which I first came across in this blog post – “The state of being in which you assume the digital instead of marvelling at it.” At the moment, our perception is that many if not most universities have not yet fully embraced digital technologies in terms of what they can offer both staff and students. There are now many examples across UK Higher Education where individual tutors and course teams have taken advantage of new technology and we will be using some of these in the seminar to illustrate its potential.

“The state of being in which you assume the digital instead of marvelling at it.”

Q2: What will you be exploring in your session?

This post-digital context means that all lecturers, course teams, technical and support staff, and institutions have to make a number of decisions which they have not really had to confront up till recently. The session will explore what we regard as the most important of these decisions. For example, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) has become a standard feature of most if not all of the higher education institutions (HEI) in the UK, and in many other countries. But are we making best use of our VLE? And what happens when students leave the HEI and move to an occupation or profession where there is no such provision? Are there other tools and techniques which students should be familiar with before they graduate? If so, how do we incorporate these into the curriculum?

Q3: Why in your view is this topic important?

The short answer is that we cannot turn back the clock. Internet and interactive technologies are now such a critical component of so many occupations that we cannot ignore these developments. And young people nowadays are growing up taking these technologies completely for granted. Ten years ago, I was teaching undergraduate students aspects of computer interfaces and procedures which are now ‘understood’ by my two-year old grandchildren based on their relatively limited interaction with tablets and smartphones and the occasional grandpa hint.

Q4: When you review the feedback from those that attended the seminar what would you like it to say?

We would like the feedback to say that the session provided ideas and examples which can be considered and applied in their own context, and also that the session suggested key questions and issues which they can use to have a productive dialogue with colleagues and the institution more generally. And we’ll be very happy to carry on the discussion after the seminar, using whatever technology is most appropriate!

Peter Hartley is a National Teaching Fellow and Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University.  Keith Smyth is Professor of Pedagogy at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

For more information on the seminar and to register please visit: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/tel/seminar/keith-peter

You can follow tweets about Digital Innovation Week via the hashtag: #DIWSUSSEX

Head of Technology Enhanced Learning, University of Sussex

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