Promises of ‘teacher-light’ tuition and of enhanced ‘efficiency’ via automation of teaching have been with us since the early days of digital education, sometimes embraced by academics and institutions, and sometimes resisted as a cost-cutting measure which is damaging to teacher professionalism and to the humanistic values of education itself. In this project we will re-visit the notion of teacher ‘automation’ from a critical perspective which looks freshly and openly at the idea of the pedagogic ‘automaton’.
The project will draw on our experience of teaching at massive scale in the Edinburgh Coursera Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ‘E-learning and digital cultures’, one of the first wave of Edinburgh MOOCs which has now run twice, with total enrolments of 70,000 across the two iterations. The project will develop applications which attempt to ‘code in’ something of the teacher function to the MOOC. In doing so, it will research and theorise some creative and critical futures for a MOOC pedagogy in which the ‘teacher function’ might become less a question of living teacher presence and more a posthuman mash-up of video, algorithm and automated process. Can we continue to value the notion of ‘teacherliness’ while looking creatively at how that teacherliness might programmed in to the MOOC, rather than residing in the body of the teacher? And how might such coded teaching help us deal with the challenge of teaching at MOOC scale?
The project is interdisciplinary: based in the School of Education, it will take place in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Informatics/eca.