In September 2020 MIT Press will be publishing our new book – The Manifesto for Teaching Online is available for pre-order now.
The book takes the text of our 2016 manifesto – a series of provocations and imperatives concerning how we teach online – and expands its basis in current research and theory. Post-COVID, as fully-digital teaching methods leap from the marginal to the mainstream, we find that the manifesto not only holds up but becomes even more necessary in its resistance to instrumental logics and its call to be bold and critical. One of its most-quoted tenets “Don’t succumb to campus envy: we are the campus” was previously a call from the margins by students and teachers working in geospatially distanced networks. During the COVID-19 lock-down it became a description of the everyday mode of university communities around the globe.
Our book is divided into five sections, within each of which are linked segments covering each of the points in the manifesto. Each segment is readable stand-alone with the detail of our theoretical perspectives spelled-out fully in section 1.
Section 1: Politics and Instrumental Logics, in which we use critical sociomaterialist perspectives to argue against the view of technology as tool, and education itself as an instrument. We argue that online teaching need not be complicit with the instrumentalisation of education.
Section 2: Beyond Words, in which we address how online teaching gives us space to re-think originality, textual stability, authorship and what we think we do when we assess or evaluate student work. Assessment is an act of interpretation, not just measurement.
Section 3: Re-coding Education, which challenges the idea of the digital ‘disruption’ of education, and surfaces the politics embedded in notions of scaling-up, automation, AI and ‘openness’ . Automation need not impoverish education but we need to be alert to whose interests it serves.
Section 4: Face, Space and Place, which takes on the idea that online education is ‘inferior’ to teaching which takes place face-to-face. We argue that online can be the privileged mode.
Section 5: Surveillance and (Dis)trust, where we suggest that surveillance regimes and architectures in wider society should not be replicated in universities, and push back on the creeping normalisation of surveillant practices in teaching.
The authors are Sian Bayne, Peter Evans, Rory Ewins, Jeremy Knox, James Lamb, Hamish Macleod, Clara O’Shea, Jen Ross, Philippa Sheail and Christine Sinclair. It features illustrations from Kirsty Johnson and designs from Oliver Brookes. It is dedicated to our students on the MSc in Digital Education in recognition of their boldness, generosity, insight and trust.