EDC has been…

…a 12-week course element of the fully-online University of Edinburgh MSc in E-learning. The course finished in December 2012.

It was designed as an open-access, disaggregated learning environment which pulled together content, readings, tweets, blog postings and other social media in an attempt to explore what is most interesting not only about theories of digital culture, but also about the forms and practices of contemporary e-learning.

The site will stay up indefinitely, as will the 2010 and 2009 instances. Access to students’ blogs and lifestreams, to all course content, to the visual and ethnographic artefacts created during this course are all available from here (see the right hand column for links). Links to final assignments will appear shortly. Only copyright-protected readings are protected by passwords.

For more information about what we’ve been doing on this course, contact the tutors – Sian Bayne and Jen Ross, School of Education, University of Edinburgh.

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A request from Ania

Ania’s requested permission from you all to look at your visual artefacts as part of her final assignment – copying what she says in her blog below:


I’m thinking of making a rhizome out of my favourite threads: visuality and posthumanism and what they can/should mean for the academia, all in the form of a video. I thought I could use some of the visual artefacts created on this course (and some of the related comments too) as an illustrative example of how academia might embrace visuality in the posthuman dance.

If you could please tell me if you agree or disagree to me reproducing your visual artefacts and/or comments, either in the comment area here or by emailing me, that would be great! Thanks! :-)

Other than that, many thanks for the enjoyable learning experience, good luck with the final assignment and the best wishes for the coming holiday.


Please get in touch with Ania if you’ve any queries about her final projects. Looking forward very much to seeing your final assignments in the new year – and in the meantime a very merry christmas from me, Jen and Jeremy too!

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Visualising the final assignment

I’m thinking of making a rhizome out of my favourite threads: visuality and posthumanism and what they can/should mean for the academia, all in the form of a video. I thought I could use some of the visual artefacts created on this course (and some of the related comments too) as an illustrative example of how academia might embrace visuality in the posthuman dance.

If you could please tell me if you agree or disagree to me reproducing your visual artefacts and/or comments, either in the comment area here or by emailing me, that would be great! Thanks! :-)


Other than that, many thanks for the enjoyable learning experience, good luck with the final assignment and the best wishes for the coming holidays!

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End of Lifestream Summary

A thoroughly challenging and inspiring few weeks have been spent involved in the course content. When embarking upon this course, two personal concerns were that the content would be irrelevant to my professional practice or the technical aspects too advanced considering my limited experience of e-learning. Fortunately, the course has proven to be relevant and (although frustrating at times) technically achievable. My journey over the past twelve weeks can be compared to walking a path with one foot on the uneven rocks and the other on trudging through mud, knowing too well that if the two paths would combine the journey would become more manageable. One foot followed a path of experiencing the many and varied modes in which the education can be facilitated by digital means. This has been reflected in the weekly summaries. The second path was one of academic learning; exploring intricacies of the ethics and philosophies related to cyberculture, virtual communities and posthumanities. The task at the end of each block provided some even ground as the paths merged and I embarked upon the opportunity to share my understanding course content through a digital activity.
At times it felt like a success or failure situation as I tried to understand the readings and find a way represent this in a way that fed into my lifestream. I can now appreciate that success is not simply an opposite of failure. With a ‘failure’ in using feeds or a bookmarking site came the opportunity to learn, improve and achieve a greater understanding of the place of e-learning and digital cultures within the real world. Likewise, the tasks provided opportunity to integrate a new digital activity into my lifestream. As noted in the weekly summaries, this was time consuming and perhaps not as comprehensive in content as if I had put pen to paper. However, the lessons learnt from the experience of undertaking a digital activity are as invaluable as learning academic arguments when it comes to understanding the uses of e-learning and digital cultures within education.
It became challenging to keep the weekly summaries in sync with the course contents when moving onto a different block of work before all work had been completed for the previous block. I decided that it would be best to keep the summaries chronological aligned with the calendared course content to provide some structure to my lifestream.
My lifestream reflects a hesitation in sharing my knowledge/understanding before I have a comprehensive appreciation of a concept. The comments posted in relation to my work helped me to consider concepts in more depth and from an alternative stance. I well appreciate that peer support and shared thinking facilitates understanding and concept development. This course structure, as with any way of learning, has required testing and practice in order to establish how it works best on an individual level. Therefore, in future I personally would contribute to future blogs and seeks peer engagement more freely and certainly advocate it as an effective educational process.
Having to initiate each account for the first time, for everything that fed into my lifestream is representative of my previous involvement with such modes. Such academic discourse has proved itself to be motivating. The ‘conventional’ expression of knowledge through academic writing is self limiting. Using Prezi, twitter or blogs with links to U-tube for example, allow an expression of complex notions; unrestricted by the constraints of an essay. The experience of e-learning has also raised some interesting ethical considerations that I intend to further explore within the assignment. All in all a very worthwhile journey!

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Week 12 Summary

Much time this week has been spent reading and looking at PBworks, though this has not been fed into my lifestream. It is only as I come to write this summary that I see how empty my lifestream is this week. I realise that I am naturally inclined to work through ideas in my mind more so that through writing. As this is does not enable assessment of my processes and if probably not the most efficiant way of working, I have made a last minute attempt to represent some of ‘background activity’. A few pages from StumbleUpon and posting a blog in response to the comments received on my posthuman pedagogy have now fed into my lifestream. It has also be useful to take the opportunity to look at classmates lifestreams and see how the themes that have emerged from their end of block tasks vary and also seem to relate to the individual interests.
In preparation of submitting this section of the course I have also played some more with the format of my page. Adding a contents list (in the form of tabs) across the top of the page will hopefully make it easier to navigate around my posts. The final course summary is also ready to publish.

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a posthuman ant a lifestream

Make a rhizome.

But you don’t know what you can make a rhizome with,

you don’t know which subterranean stem is going to make a rhizome,

or enter a becoming, people your desert.

So, experiment.

(Deleuze &Guattari, 1987: 246)


This text participates in the process of gathering (Edwards, 2010:5) spun over twelve weeks of the course in e-learning and digital cultures and across numerous online and offline spaces. Following Haraway (1991),  it centres around relationality, making it a basic unit of the analysis and so it tells a story about, and interferes in, the relations that have or have not been assembled so far (Law, 2009:142). The main actants involved in this process of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation are the human and the lifestream technology (edc antics).

YouTube Preview Image

At the beginning there was an emptiness and a feeling of wonder at how to populate the desert. The actants might have had differing visions and so their relation commenced and continued in a volatile fashion, subjected to constant changes as they transgressed and transformed each others’ discursive fields. While they enacted their practices, evolving for instance round authorship, agency, authenticity,  there were unexpected shifts in power and understanding, novel heterogeneous links forged, traditional ontological distinctions eroded, as exemplified by active experimentation with visuality (visual artefact), reconfiguring  the perception of the self and technology toward more hybridised and relational attitudes (descending the trees, posthuman lifestream), relating posthumanism to education (posthumanesque pedagogy, posthuman week). Translation is often not about finding equivalence but about betrayal (Law, 2009) and so, as a result, an actant rhizome began to form. The choice of this term over ‘actor network’ (which might be too easily associated with centralised architectures) is intentional in this gathering process, based on John Law’s argument that there is little difference between it and Deleuze’s agencement (translated into ‘assemblage’ in English). This is further strengthened by the revised after-ANT, in which Law moves to partial  and so more fluid linkages in his analysis of relationality, making the theory fit in more seamlessly within the rhizomatic framework (Law, 2009; Gough, 2004).

Virtual meditation 01

Virtual meditation 10

Since the foundational divisions that existed initially seem to have been levelled out, as playfully shown by the first and the last entries of the virtual meditation series (links above), the process of the gathering can be regarded as pedagogically posthuman. It actively made use of situated knowledge, cyborg ontology and border pedagogy, the three cornerstones from the Cyborg Manifesto (Angus et al, 2000). Even though on the surface the lifestream appears to be chronologically ordered, it resembles ‘an imaginative mapping of possibilities’ (Gough, 2004) rather than an orderly network or a linear tracing. With multiple layers, entries and exits in the form of visual-textual assemblages accessed by means of feeds, tags and hyperlinks, it constitutes a textual strategy that might assist in ‘figuration of rhizomANTically becoming-cyborg’ (Gough, 2004), even more so when it is thought of additionally as a rhizomatic metastory which renders itself as an artefact and so does not only gather but is also gathered.




Angus, T., Cook, I., Evans, J. et al. (2001) A Manifesto for Cyborg Pedagogy. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2001, pp. 195-201. (Lifestream event 742)

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Continuum.

Gough, N. (2004) RhizomANTically Becoming-Cyborg: Performing Human Pedagogies. Educational Philosophy and Theory, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2004, pp. 253-265.

Haraway, D. (1991)  A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, pp.149-181. Online: http://www-leland.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Haraway/CyborgManifesto.html Accessed 10/12/2012 (Lifestream event 707)

Law, J. (2009) Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics. In Turner, B.S. (Ed.) The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 141-158. (Lifestream event 777)


PDF Version of the post

PDF Script of the video interview



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Lifestream Summary

I started the course considering myself in tune with digital culture, but now have come to realize there is so much more than I had imagined.  A topic as deceptively simple as what is a cyborg and its relation to the post-human has been the focus of my learning for weeks.  While I have made strides in my understanding, I now know that I have only just scratched the surface of the depth of the various topics.

Creating a visual artifact was a challenging yet rewarding experience.  It was interesting to have so much feedback on aspects of my artifact that I had not thought of.  Doing a micro-ethnography caused me to question my idea of virtual community, as until that point I had just accepted the terms for their purely literal definitions.  In exploring the topic I forced myself to challenge the definition and came to realize that I don’t quite agree that true communities can exist completely in the virtual.  Finally in writing about a posthuman pedagogy I realized that learning cannot be a standardized static experience.  It must be fluid, adaptable, and transforming to the needs of the learner, or as Edwards (2010) says should be positioned “as a gathering of the human and non-human in responsible experimentation to establish matters of concern.”

One of the main aspects of this course has been this blog and the lifestream.  I had no idea what a lifestream was when I started, and although I understood that it was to be a track of my personal development through the course, it was clear that I didn’t know where it would take me.  When I initially set it up, I added feeds from Twitter, Delicious and Tumblr.  The Delicious feeds never worked for me, even after I deleted and reimported the feeds several times to no avail.  I played with Tumblr for the novelty of it, but I honestly felt that it was just another place to upload information, and I could serve the same purpose through a blog post.  The lifestream was also supposed to pull in my commentary on my classmate’s blog postings, but that aspect of it also is not working.  I liked having the Twitter feed being pulled in, but even then I found I sometimes struggled with what to tweet.  I have learned that I like posting full commentary to a blog more so than random limited length musings.

So what have I learned from the lifestream process?  I learned that I prefer to collect my thoughts and organize them into longer prose rather than provide a disaggregated look into my exploration of the web.  Did I miss the point?  Should I have challenged myself to work more outside of my comfort level?  Has my lack of inclination to post every step in my exploration hindered my learning?  In hindsight I would have shared more for the benefit of my classmates as I found that I gained valuable insights from their postings.  I spent time reading, and contemplating, and then eventually posting my collected thoughts.  The digital record of my learning may have seemed sporadic but I’d like to think that I gained just as much as others on the course, and it has been a truly novel and enjoyable experience.

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Lifestream Summary

My lifestream for EDC has ebbed and flowed sometimes gaining momentum as I find a topic that interests me and sometimes slowing to a trickle as I take time to catch breath and focus on a reading or merely deal will my real life stream of work and family tasks. I observe my digital activity weaving in and out of course related topics sometimes spinning off into areas of personal interest sometimes crossing the boundary into work related activity. At times the stream is divergent where many avenues of thought are being explored simultaneously and at other times it converges on a single point of interest as illustrated during the periods when focus is turned to course related tasks.

The artefacts I have collected have been predominantly textual and I have made extensive use of Diigo to capture them. Although I always tag my sources in Diigo I think I could have made my tags more granular and used the descriptions field more effectively to record richer semantic data for each source. I frequently find myself in a dilemma of how much of a source to digest and capture in the moment as opposed to merely flagging up for later.

I have experimented with visual media using Tumblr, mobile uploads to Flickr and YouTube sources. I find the visual an excellent way to stimulate imagination and spark new ideas.

The blog posts in my lifestream have acted as points of synthesis; for ideas, readings and the lifestream artefacts themselves. It seems that these posts are pivotal in turning what might be considered as simply ‘digital hoarding’ into a meaningful learning activity. The self referential nature of the lifestream for EDC is key as it seems to stimulate reflective and integrative thought processes. I have tried to capture how this has been working for me using this diagram.
My lifestream does not show extensive engagement with others on the course however I would argue that this is not an indicator that my learning has been an individual endeavour as the ever present audience shapes how I frame my lifestream activity. I also use my networks to help filter sources, for example when finding an interesting source I check to see if the author has a twitter feed and if they are active, I follow them. From time to time I scan my tweet deck and these ‘thought leaders’ take me to new sources.

Having whetted my appetite with this posthuman pedagogy I inevitably would like the ‘machine’ to do more to support the integrative activity of making sense of many disparate resources. Perhaps it could help me construct a personal concept map based on an analysis of my interests using as data my digital collections, my blog posts and who I network with. The visual understanding environment looks promising as a step in this direction.
YouTube Preview Image
For me my lifestream demonstrates a truly personal learning environment (PLE). I have always found the definitions of PLEs that focus on individual collections of digital tools rather unsatisfactory see for example this extensive list compiled by Martin Weller. I would argue that it is rather by inhabiting the digital that one can appropriate a way of being that capitalises on the prevailing digital cultures to enact our personal projects and to achieve our personal learning goals.

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Lifestream Reflections – Week 10

My lifestream this week is in spate – relatively speaking! However I see it is a focussed jet rather than an indiscriminate spray. Of particular interest are the connections I have been able to make with sources I had bookmarked prior to the course, in some cases years prior. A case in point was Michael Wesche’s film ‘The Machine is Us/ing Us’

I can now see that it fits well with the posthuman theme and in particular with the idea I mentioned in last week’s summary namely that we are teaching our non-human appliances about what it is to be human.

Sixth sense, Pranav Mistry’s user interface research at MIT is fascinating and illustrates how transparency of interface design means that we hardly notice the boundary between the machine and our human selves. Another boundary ambiguous view is portrayed by Makoto Yabuki’s artwork. However the machine is privileged here. The rather Matrix-esk image shows a human cocooned and connected but rather separated from the real world. It is a beautiful and delicate image so much so that we might imagine another, perhaps more beautiful being emerging from the cocoon at a later date.

However it was Andrew Feenberg’s Ten Paradoxes of Technology that really absorbed me this week! I blogged about it in order to capture the key ideas. Overall I was struck by the clarity that Feenberg brings to explaining our relationships with technology. that really absorbed me this week! I blogged about it in order to capture the key ideas. Overall I was struck by the clarity that Feenberg brings to explaining our relationships with technology.

Finally Amber Case adds her approach to researching these relationships by defining the new discipline of cyborg anthropology.

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Lifestream Reflections – Week 9


This week my lifestream seems a rather eclectic mix which crosses context boundaries and demonstrates changes in pace of engagement. I began with a mission to get a better feel of the ideas around the cyborg and the posthuman condition. I was interested by Hayles (2006) idea of the cognishere as “distributed cultural cognitions embodied both in people and their technologies”. Searching on cognisphere led me to Alex Reid’s Digital Digs blog. He has a number of posts tagged with Cognishere and I spent a long time browsing and digesting these. His analysis the film Avatar
particularly caught my eye. He skilfully brought out the intertwined relations between the human, the digital and the biological not just in the film story but in the creation of the film and on the act of watching it! This is also a loop back to the Sci Fi examples used to trigger discussions around themes (utopian/dystopian) earlier on in the course.

A single rich source provided me with 50 postings about cyborgs. This again absorbed me for several hours and it was something I returned to on several occasions. To pick one of the many interesting points this series raised.

“It can be said that while we augment & extend our abilities through machines, machines learn more about the world through us.” “These sophisticated marketing and research tools are learning more and more about what it means to be human, and the extended sensorium of the instrumented world is giving them deep insight into the run-time processes of civilization & nature.”


Later in the week I found myself at a work related conference and restricted to short mobile posts via twitter. Some of these were notes or questions to self, the idea being to refer back to them at a later date. Of particular interest were some of the new technologies introduces by other delegates as I might be able to use them as part of the course. Thus my lifestream crossed from course to my work context and back again.
Hayles, K. N. (2006) Unfinished work: from Cyborg to Cognisphere. Theory, Culture and Society 23(7-8)

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