Considering ‘university futures’: post one, of many…

Punch: Sky Signs of the Times: 6 Sept 1890.

Punch: Sky-signs of the Times: 6 Sept 1890.

Considering the current radical disruptions, eg economic, socio-technical and environmental, when imagining the future university do we assume a continuity between the past, present and future, or is our present so disturbed or ‘messy’ that we should reframe entirely? What are the set of assumptions that we might use to explore the future university, and what are the core questions for higher education? And, as this blog explores digital literacy, what are the implications for future ‘digital pedagogies’? It is within the realm of the digital that this article is located.

Our urban spaces and cityscapes are metamorphosing, in a state of flux and unstable. With this continual material re-shaping, our sense of place is in a constant state of becoming (Massey and/or Dylan). Combine the dynamic and emergent physicality of the city with all that digitisation brings, and our day-to-day is reframed; we now have an extraordinary mundane, a phenomenal banal, and a mind-blowing everyday. A London commuter’s sensory experience is vastly different today than it was 20 years ago. Today’s aural cacophony of multiple ‘new’ languages melds with headphone leakage (music, programmes, films), ringtones and one-sided conversations. Our sense of touch is often framed around a single object – a mobile device. We hold the object in its case, touch/caress the glass panel and sometimes have earphones plugged into our bodies. The visual landscape is awash with digital colour-full LED urban screens containing dynamic images in the public environment. These super-bright screens affect their material surroundings as the moving colour spills out and is reflected in the surfaces. The city and its commuters – CSM students and staff –  move and disperse.

London bus stop sign

London bus stop sign

The city continues to be shaped by a number of technical networks, most recently: wi-fi; mobile phone networks; security cameras; location based services; sensor networks; satellite navigation and so forth. Our hybrid city is changing our ideas of space and time, of culture and identity, and of what it means to be present. As we travel through the city, our digital devices are altering our relationships with it. The forms of our presence in the city have fundamentally changed; we are now actively co-present, or indeed absent in our presence, or another digitally-enabled hybrid construction. So, when imagining the future university, a shared understanding of what it means to be present within the university context is necessary – what might these multiple forms of presence be? What do these sets of presence mean for our sets of pedagogies?

London commuter physically and digitally present

London commuter physically and digitally present

Assuming that in the next 10-20 years there will be a massive increase in computer power, machine intelligence will increase such that we work alongside blisteringly fast and advanced machines, and that there is increasing demand for remote collaboration and online learning, what skills might the university community need to thrive? Indeed, who makes up the community, and how do we ensure that the economic and socio-technical disruption does not exacerbate inequality and access?

At this point, due to a lack of time rather than desire, I shall conclude – but shall invite others to continue… a reminder of the questions raised:

  • What might our multiple forms of presence be?
  • What do these sets of presence mean for our sets of pedagogies?
  • Who makes up the university community?
  • How do we ensure that the economic and socio-technical disruption does not exacerbate inequality and access?

Links

http://digitalpresent.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2013/11/12/draft-disrupting-arts-and-design-he-futures/

http://digitalpresent.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2013/10/30/digital-literacy-socio-technical-futures-and-arts-higher-education/