The Manifesto for Teaching Online was written in 2011 to articulate a critical yet positive position on online, distance education in opposition to dominant technicist and instrumentalist discourses surrounding the field. Then in 2016 we recreated the manifesto to bring it up to date with new developments in research, practice and policy. This paper charts these changes in the manifesto and discusses how shifting orientations to openness, the ‘temporal turn’, and the operation of code and algorithms in educational spaces influenced what it means to teach critically in and about digital environments.
The Manifesto was written as a provocation, sitting outside the usual forms of representation of academic knowledge and deliberately brief. It was intended to stimulate ideas about creative online teaching, and to reimagine some of the orthodoxies and unexamined truisms surrounding the field, and emerged directly from the research and teaching activities of its authors. In this paper we examine the academic community’s reception of the manifesto since its launch, and in doing so explore its role in challenging taken-for-granted truths about how to value digital education.
This article makes two key contributions: first; it provides an analysis of how teaching in higher education responded to and shaped digital change in a five-year period; and second, it shows how non-traditional forms of academic discourse like the manifesto can serve to focus our critical attention on issues that might otherwise be overlooked in a fast-moving field like digital education, and in contexts that continue to see the digital in instrumental, rather than critical, terms.