#EDCMOOC Reasserting the Human: Mind Vs Body

Week 3 of EDCMOOC suggested many interesting resources which have raised in me a series of questions about MOOCs, for example:

– Is the current digital dominance over humans reinforced by digital education?

– In order for education to free humans, shouldn’t part of its role in society be to challenge digital oppression?

– How important is authentic human touch in distance education?

To try and answer these questions lets look at some resources in popular cultures. Like in Toyota’s ad, in Heart to Heart an aspect of the human being reasserted is human freedom (from digital dominance). The difference is that in Toyota’s ad human life itself has become a complete simulation through digital immersion, bringing it closer to a dystopic vision, whereas H2H addresses the actual problems which can be faced in digital educational debates.

Digital dominance, symbolised by social networks and IM services, has affected our ability to communicate satisfactorily because it substitutes (bringing up once again Johnson’s metaphor of technology as destruction by means of supplanting) speech with typing. More on that later.

What I believe lies at the core of this issue is what I would call a “mutilation of the body” problem: if technology displaces what is associated with or emanates from the body, in this case the human voice, the outcome is negative. The implication for education is that if learning is perceived as simple transmission of information then having a human body might not even be necessary at some point!

I also believe H2H can clearly be linked to ‘the illusion of non-mediation’ referenced in the Kolowich article where unsuccessful communication = lack of audio or video interaction = lack of human touch. Like in Toyota’s ad, man’s role towards technology must be of dominance: technology exists to improve man’s life, to make it easier.

Also, BT’s ad addresses issues in humanism in that it emphasizes the value of agency, because the man can make a choice to use technology that’s more suited to human needs (which allows space for emotional dynamics).

This is why even though if “humanity” is an ambitious category according to Dr. Fuller, I personally believe the discourse that associates technology with alienation (where students type instead of talk and don’t see or listen to their teachers or other course participants) still could be a key to successful online education or successful MOOCs.

The Kolowich article discusses that the advantages and prospect of success of the emotional dynamics allowed by video and audio (more student involvement) outweigh its disadvantages compared to typing (more student focus). So if “the body factor” can have such importance in education, what happens when the mind can be tricked into feeling emotions?

Human emotion is becoming more dependent on digital technology and that the brain can could be fooled so well to the extent in which it might not be necessary to have a body anymore. If you consider the photos at the beginning it can be interpreted as how dependent emotions can be on technological devices nowadays. In fact, we might eventually exclusively be able access to our memories and what we associate with them. through tablets, smartphones, social media, etc.

Digital-Head

If the brain cannot tell apart real and artificial information, to what extent can emotions be manipulated? Seen this movie? Thought the actors were great? Not sure if the orangutan was real? How does this affect education?

MAURICE KARIN KONOVAL

If information can be incorporated into the body and stimulate emotion, will the human body become obsolete? How about consciousness, is it merely informational? Does that mean we could make this guy real?

What does real mean anymore and what does it imply for education?

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About Francisco Revuelta

I am a 100% bilingual language instructor with over 10 years' teaching experience, I am specialized in adult teaching and I love technology and its potential to enhance language learning. Follow me @frevoc.
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2 Responses to #EDCMOOC Reasserting the Human: Mind Vs Body

  1. aloreli says:

    Hola Francisco:
    Aprovecho que eres profesor de lenguas para comentarte en español. Esta pregunta acerca de lo que resulta “real” con las representaciones y experiencias de inmersión en el ciberespacio y otros espacios de simulación, y sus implicaciones para la educación, me parece muy interesante. Contrasta con la esperanza, desde una visión utópica, de conocer otras realidades y a otras personas a través de la mediación tecnológica sin que necesariamente tengamos que coincidir en tiempo y en espacio. Aparece como clave entonces los referentes para valorar las representaciones y los criterios de confiabilidad ante determinados datos o información.

    Respecto del cuerpo, me cuesta trabajo imaginar que ya no fuera necesario… Sigue siendo nuestro primer instrumento de interacción con ese otro mundo, la base y el concreto de estar aquí y ahora, de conocer, sentir, compartir, expresarnos, del funcionamiento de nuestra mente, conectar ideas, generar sentido y habitar mundos… ¿Qué evidencias tenemos de esa transformación de nuestro hacer con el cuerpo, a partir de las herramientas digitales? Yo creo que sí las hay… pero me cuesta imaginar que un día ya no necesitemos del cuerpo… seguimos siendo misterio con un límite de existencia.

    Saludos y gracias por tus reflexiones.
    Lorelí

    • Hola Lorelí,

      Muchas gracias por tu comentario y disculpa la tardanza en contestar, llevo una racha con muchos cambios en el trabajo y demás.

      Estoy de acuerdo con tus opiniones. Yo añadiría que espero que la ciencia ficción se quede simplemente en ficción. Me explico. Si la conciencia se convierte en información susceptible de transferirse desde un servidor al cerebro, potencialmente veríamos como las materias en las escuelas se aprenden estilo Matrix. Si esto fuera tan efectivo como en la película se producen dos implicaciones: la desaparición completa de la distinción entre real (lo físico, tangible) y digital y el cuestionamiento de la necesidad del cuerpo.

      La clave para mi sería no olvidar nunca como las personas aprendemos realmente y no caer en la trampa de que la tecnología es sinónimo de buenos resultados educativos. Creo además que infravaloramos el cuerpo humano y el cerebro: ¿por qué no pueden ser estas las herramientas de aprendizaje más avanzadas en lugar de las tablets? En fin, da para mucho este tema, quizá en otro post.

      Gracias de nuevo por tu comentario, saludos!

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