The manifesto is four years old, and lots has happened in the digital education space since it was first published. We always said we wanted it to be a living document, so we are putting that principle into action and have spent the last few months revisiting the statements. This has been an interesting process of discussion and debate, both about what we still feel strongly about in the manifesto, and what we think it needs to take more or different account of in this time of of increasing attention to scale, materiality, code and automation in online education.
The Digital Education team will be relaunching the manifesto soon! We’ll update the blog when we have a publication date finalised.
James Lamb, our fantastic colleague, and a student on the MSc in Digital Education, created a video remix of the manifesto at our request in late 2011. Last month, he decided to make a 2013 remix, because, as he says:
Influenced and informed by my own research into multimodality, I wanted to take a more critical approach to the representation of ideas within the video… Within this new version I’ve attempted to take a more rhetorical approach, where the images help to further the arguments proposed within the different Manifesto statements. I’ve also created a new soundtrack that it is intended to work more effectively alongside the images and words. I think that this new orchestration of communicational modes better represents the Manifesto (or at least, my interpretation of it).
A manifesto for teaching online, 2013 remix on Vimeo.
In case you didn’t have enough motivation to remix or make a manifesto, Forbes magazine suggests this month that instead of a new year’s resolution, people make ‘game changing’ manifestos in 2013.
It’s worked for us!
You are cordially invited to this event in Second Life (SL), where Clara O’Shea will lead a presentation on the Manifesto along with fellow authors Jen Ross, Sian Bayne and Hamish Macleod.
The event is hosted by Sheila Webber (Sheila Yoshikawa in SL), at Sheffield University’s Second Life island, Infolit iSchool.
All are welcome!
Sheila Webber will also open a ‘remix’ exhibit of the Manifesto at the event.
Clara recently led an online seminar session, jointly for the Transforming Assessment / E-Assessment Scotland conferences, which focused on the Manifesto statements particularly related to assessment. A recording of the event is now available online, and can be accessed via Clara’s own blog.
The session was lively, with stimulating input and questions.
In honour of the Sloan-C unconference workshop I’m running this week, I have been working on a list of tips for making a manifesto. Suggestions for additions are welcome!
1. Forget about being nice. A manifesto isn’t the place for seeing both sides of the argument. If you don’t have a clear story you want to tell, or a case you want to make, a manifesto probably isn’t the right format. If you do have that story, tell it as strongly as you can. This is (at least) half the enjoyment of writing like this. An especially useful strategy (thanks to Sian for this one) is this: if you get stuck, try to articulate what you are repudiating. Repudiating is not only great fun, it will help you to be bold. Ideally, you can come back later and change some of the points from the negative “do not do…” to the positive.
2. Word choice matters. Take time to consider the meanings of the words you are using, and to find the best one for the point you want to make. In a short piece of writing like a manifesto, every word counts, so be as precise as you can.
3. One idea per statement. Don’t try to say too much in each point. If it feels long or complicated, can you split it up into more than one statement?
4. Be brief. For maximum impact, points that are tweet-sized will be easiest to share.
5. Aim for conversation, not (necessarily) consensus. A lot of a manifesto’s value is in how it allows its authors to articulate a shared position. But the shared territory (especially in a big group) will never be absolute or unconditional. In that sense, a manifesto works best as a conversation starter, an object for discussion and debate, and a provisional set of statements that represent a moment in time, a set of circumstances, and a group of people. In other words, be bold (see point 1), but hold it lightly.
I’ve been wanting to say something about the Design Futures Archaeology blog, and what its author has been doing, but I’ve found it sort of intimidating :-). For the past few months, Derek Nicoll has been deconstructing the manifesto, one aphorism at a time. Each post is a meditation that uses the manifesto as a jumping off point, but ventures far and wide. He blends theory and observation with accounts of his own varied and extensive experiences, and the result is a cornucopia – dense and fascinating.
There are some themes coming through – in particular, I’ve noticed an insistence on the value of the face-to-face, and on the limits of the distance-mediated, digitally-mediated. Of course (as Derek also notes) we’re no longer usually talking about anything being one or the other – that’s something that is emerging from the ubiquity of our networked devices. As Enriquez reminds us: “mobility … dissolves the boundary between here and there, departure and return, dwelling and travelling” (2011, p.49). But anyway, the limits of particular kinds of mediations seem to be important in these posts, and I get that, especially when questions of power arise:
How does technology, and those who design, own and have power over it, make this a prepared environment for us to work within, live and socialize within and learn within? These are key questions defining who and what you can access, as the idea of when and where you can access disappears with sci-fi, wi-fi and wide-fi.
It would be impossible to summarise even one of Derek’s posts – but I encourage you to check some of them out next time you need a strange, enriching romp.
Enriquez, J. (2011). Tug‐o‐where: situating mobilities of learning (t)here. Learning, Media and Technology, 36(1), pp. 39-53.