Today, two presentations by Professor Laura Czerniewicz from the Centre
for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT), University of Cape Town,
South Africa at the University of Canterbury's Digital Education Futures Lab.
The first is on the topic of Digital inequality in Higher Education -"Problemising digital inequality"
Worked on the topic for many
years but the challenge still remains.
Began by asking ‘what does the digital divide make you think
Saw the book - Inequality – A NZ
crisis and wondered why, compared to South Africa the issue of inequality is challenging many
countries including ones perceived to be egalitarian.
Digital equality is not simple.
Access to electricity is not availed to all the world’s people. Connectivity is
ubiquitous in urban areas but not so in rural areas. There is a 30,000%
difference between the cheapest data and the most expensive. The affordability
gap and value-for-money gap is large.
Therefore, digital inequalities
are inseparable from social inequalities, technology and inequality are
multifaceted, intersects with postdigital datified society and is fluid and emergent.
Summarised the shift from
analogue to digital, networked digital and SMART (self-monitoring, analysis and
In general level one digital
divide is access to digital devices, then to digital skills and then level 3
whereby the ways lack of access accentuates when 1 and 2 are unavailable.
There are always aspects and
challenges of use, participation, benefit, sovereignty, agency and
transparency. For many, there is no choice and poor access to information on
what platforms / tools they are required to engage with. The pandemic exposed
many social inequalities in education and the digital divide. The risks are
playing out unevenly and deepen the divides.
Summarised what can educators do
to address digital inequalities, through formal/informal and/or
individual/group activities. Research is one way to find out what can be done.
Introduced a toolkit to help study
For access – Resource Appropriation Theory
Theory of practice – Bourdieu – forms of capital
Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT)
Critical pedagogy and digital liberation
2) Her second presentation in the evening was more academic covering the genesis, direction, and overview of a book she is currently working on titled ' Higher
Education for Good'.
Set the scene with a check in on how people
have experienced the last few years. A variety of responses reinforced her view
of the pandemic as ‘the same storm’ but with countries and individuals being on
Overall, many in the world have the
perspective of a world being in crisis and these are leading to austerity,
deepening inequalities, surveillance capitalism, rising authorianism, war, ongoing
stability, and multiple challenges and uncertainty within HE.
Shared the need to be more optimistic and
to use the opportunities presented. Worked through and wrote the book edited by
Catherine Cronin and herself.
Five sections in the book – finding
fortitude and hope; making sense of the unknown and emergent; considering
alternatives; making change through teaching, assessments and learning design;
and remaking HE. Chapters across various genres with critical reflections,
poems, conceptual essays, visual/audio dialogue, graphics and artwork.
While working on the book, also discussed
‘a manifesto for HE for good’ consisting of the following principles:
Name and analyse the troubles – need to
understand the negatives so as to work toward solutions. Naming and
understanding provides power and agency to address them. Check work of Achille
Mbembe. Discussed how datafication and surveillance capitalism in HE is often invisible
from users. Leading to datafication as a form of coloniality, whereby profit is
made, natural resources are exploited, all made on a promise of progress and
Challenge assumptions and resist hegemonies – reiterated
the need to recentre by bringing voices and views from the margins; crossing
the borders (geographical, disciplinary, status, genre)[; and challenge the
dominant perspectives and views. Encouraged puriversal knowledge in practice by
ensuring citations which are diverse and inclusive, otherwise we miss valuable
Make claims for just, humane, and globally
sustainable HE – need to claim and grow theory for good. What is public,
social, common good? We need to make claims for regulatory frameworks which support
for the good of all. Where does the data collected, for example by various
learning platforms going? Who is gleaning the data and what is it being used
Courage to imagine and sharing – “Imagination is
about remaining human” – Ursula le Guin. We need to imagine a more egalitarian,
less extractive world which is supportive of all. Recommended reading some
speculative fiction – Ursula le Guin’s the left had of darkness; Tade
Thompson’s Rosewater and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The ministry for the future. Also to explore the work on
- - Imagine alternative HE futures – Used Keri Facer’s
black elephant (what is being ignored?); the pink swan (outlandish and
invisible); and the rainbow jellyfish (everyday and potentially transformative)
as a way to envisage and make positive changes here and now. Changes can occur
as a ‘shock’ or in small steps leading to a ’slide’. Encouraged us to be
‘streams that become rivers’ 😊
Referenced ‘Utopia for Realists’ by Rutger
Bregman on – ‘how we can build the ideal world’ and the need to be ready for
change. Stressed the need for communality and coalitions as a way forward.
A thought provoking presentation followed by interesting Q & A.