Thursday, 6 October 2016

#EDENRW9 The increasing im-possibilities of justice and care in open distance learning

Paul Prinsloo ( was looking particularly good this morning in his light blue jacket and his radiant presence. And what he said hit home! Really great presentation.

Achieving justice and care was a concern from early on in distance education. Spending time and resources to take down barriers. AT this point in time, the opportunities for justice and care have grown over the years. On the other hand the impossibilities for justice and care have seen new challenges arise.
Intergenerational weight, colonialism, … education is often seen as a key initiative to counter these. Yet, challenges arise against the belief that education and equality is possible. All of societies problems cannot be addressed or erased by education. Students need to be made aware of what education entails from the start to be able to attain access to higher education. Access to education is not enough.
Ethics of care is essential to create equality.
Government subsidies have tumbled while student numbers rose in South Africa.
The amount of funding spend per students are decreasing (see slides).
The problem lies in completion rates of undergraduate degrees, not only on completing individual courses.
In DE there is still this grey area of not knowing where it will take us, what student success entails.
Education is not broken, and technology cannot mend it. Paul believes advances in tech, AI, machine learning can address some of the challenges we face. But what are the conditions. Paul refers to the chatbot, a female chatbot to support students and answer their questions.
AI can get awfully wrong. Can robot replace teachers? It does allow for some light relieve, but it might also endanger jobs. If we consider the role of AI, algorithms to change education, where equity, equality is reached, than what this imply: cost, access, quality and care.
How do we talk about university care with top ranking of universities, the rankings increase marginalisation of knowing. Most of the people are still offline. See most recent report of the Worldbank ( ).
Can we increase access, maintain quality and address the issue of cost through implementation of these new techs? Student data is the contemporary greatness… our obsession with metrics turn academics/researchers into data drones. Students and surveillance. What could we learn of tracking everyone? How much more student data do we need to move to justice and care? How much is enough data to achieve justice and care?
Will having access to more data answer challenges? Knowing more about our students does not, necessarily, result in understanding. Can we respond in appropriate ways?
We need to realise that our digital lives are more than the clicks. Data does not exist without assumptions, data have contexts, and it impacts on the integraty of data. Knowing what is happening, does not say why things are happening. We do not even have the time to think about why it is happening. Biesta quote (in slides).

Correlation is not causation. 
We need to be careful with accountability and AI. 
HOw can we use algorithms to structure a learning journey, allocation of resources, addressing inter-generational disadvantage? Red-lining?
What are the implications of tech to the justice and care for open distance learning to actually remove barriers and to reach more justice and care. 
People should know who makes algorithms, what it implies, to question conclusions, to have access, to opting out or in, to keep ethical oversight of all these possibilities.