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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Revisiting Digital Epistemology

Frank Vander Valk (Empire State College, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 2:30pm
Technology and Emerging Learning Environments
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research Study
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Theory/Conceptual Framework
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Oceanic 4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 8

This paper revisits the idea of digital epistemology in light of recent interdisciplinary research.

Extended Abstract

Online learning is supported by a robust literature dedicated to theories, best practices, and test cases of digital pedagogy. However, undergirding any pedagogical commitments are particular epistemological assumptions. This was as true for Plato as it was for educators such as Marshall McLuhan (who spent a great deal of time and energy addressing the role of the technology in Canadian education systems) and George Siemens. It is not true, for the most part, in the field of online teaching and learning as that field is presently constituted. The trajectory of digital learning over the past decade has cleaved theories of digital pedagogy from theories of digital epistemology. This was a mistake.

In this paper, digital epistemology is brought back into the conversation. Specifically, the author draws upon the work of Bernard Stiegler (especially his 2015 "States of Shock: Stupidity and Knowledge in the 21st Century") and Luciano Floridi's work on the philosophy of information and the infosphere, to situate digital learning within the context of a transformative digital epistemology. The paper concludes with three concrete recommendations for faculty, designers, and administrators who are concerned with outcomes of digital learning, and with the status of knowledge in digital information environments.