I began this course on ELearning and Digital Culture under the illusion that I was somewhat of an expert on the subject. My professional background is in elearning, multimedia and web application development and much of my personal time is spent online; either at play or connecting with geographically distant friends. But how wrong I was. I have discovered that online digital culture is something fluid and changeable, moving, reacting and adapting to current conditions as quickly and effortlessly as a flocking algorithm. To claim expert knowledge of everything digital is shortsighted, and given the unprecedented and constant growth of the online community combined with relentless innovation, technical expertise is becoming ever more narrowly defined. If this course has taught me one thing, it is that adaptation is essential for survival in the digital realm. But this course has taught me many things, most of which can be seen in the various feeds which populate my lifestream. Initially I found producing a lifestream to be an awkward and overly contrived exercise, and in truth I did not see the benefit until after some time into the course. Often I will have looked in depth at a topic only to backtrack out towards another concept, however the record of this journey remains and I subsequently found this to be extremely useful when refining any later thoughts or research ideas. In fact, this detailed record has often provided the pointer to a new direction or insight later on. Over the last twelve weeks I have seen my lifestream develop from a seemingly random collection of disparate, unrelated links, into a focused record of my research progress. Such detailed logging has obvious benefits, but it is also an indicator of the ever increasing volume of data that we produce and navigate on a daily basis. Even if we are actively creating this record rather than mindlessly life logging, the result is still a massive data glut, something renowned computer scientist Jim Gray has humorously referred to as WORN (write once, read never). Worse still, it produces an echo of our lives which may tell others more about us than we know ourselves.
The ramifications for education in this ocean of data are complex and potentially paradigm changing. Our current educational models frequently reward students for feats of memory and recall rather than actual knowledge or information processing. In a world of constant, ubiquitous recording and massive online data sets, memory is becoming less of a concern. The skills most prized by industry (if not yet by the academy), are those of assimilating and digesting data in order to extract salient information and knowledge. Perhaps tools like the lifestream can help to raise awareness of this issue.
Given the informal nature of blogging, I have employed the simple notation "(lifestream dd/mm/yyyy)" followed by an index number where there are more than one lifestream entries on a given day. Where possible I have also hyperlinked the reference to an individual post on the corresponding remote site. My thanks to the staff and students of #ededc for what has been a fascinating and rewarding experience!