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Manifesto Redux: making a teaching philosophy from networked learning research

Siân Bayne, Jen Ross,
Centre for Research in Digital Education, The University of Edinburgh

The Manifesto for Teaching Online is a series of short statements first written in 2011 by the Digital Education group at the University of Edinburgh.  It was designed to articulate a position about online education that informs the work of the group and the MSc in Digital Education programme it leads. This position was perhaps best summarised by the first of the manifesto statements: Distance is a positive principle, not a deficit. Online can be the privileged mode.

Such a position was (and to an extent still is) at odds with dominant discourses of digital education that described it either in terms of replication of offline practices, or in terms of inadequacy, where online learning is the ‘second best' option when ‘real' (face-to-face) encounters are not possible or practical. We rejected both of these positions, and the instrumental approaches to online education that tend to accompany them.

The manifesto was initially developed over a period of a year, June 2010-May 2011, and it was further shaped and refined during a series of discussions and events among students and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh. Responses to the document ranged from excitement to discomfort, and when the manifesto was launched in early 2012, it was met with considerable interest. It was intended to stimulate ideas about creative online teaching, and to reimagine some of the orthodoxies and unexamined truisms surrounding the field. Each point was deliberately interpretable, and it was made open so that others could remix and rewrite it. In early 2015, the Digital Education group itself began to revisit and reassemble the manifesto, with new points covering emerging issues such as openness and ‘massiveness' in online education, teacher automation, new research on spatiality and temporality, and digital authorship.

This paper discusses the way the manifesto has changed between 2011 and 2015 to reflect shifts in the field of research. In addressing some of the themes and issues informing the 2015 version, it discusses what we believe to be some of the most pressing critical issues facing practitioners of networked and digital education in the current moment.

Manifesto, teaching, online, digital, education

Full Paper - .pdf



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