I just kicked off a new project at the Centre for Research in Digital Education building on Sian Bayne’s work on Teacherbot. I am joined by Markus Breines, Myles Blaney, and Marcello Crolla, all of the University of Edinburgh, on this one. Project page is here.

This project builds on the work of Teacherbot (Bayne 2015) and its model “assemblage of teacher-student-code (that) might be pedagogically generative” (2015), as well as indicative actions emerging from the Near Future Teaching project (2019), specifically for an instigation of “an academic-led programme to scope ways in which transparent, fair, context-sensitive artificial intelligence applications and services could assist and support human-driven teaching.” This research project is largely positioned as building on the findings emerging from Teacherbot, further building on ‘the conscious construction of technological worlds that support a desirable conception of what it is to be human’ (Feenberg 2003).  

As such, the research proposed here addresses this by speculatively exploring what the use of bots in teaching and learning might entail, which teaching and learning practices it might seek to augment, what sociocultural or organisational practices it might circumvent or disrupt, and ultimately provide feedback on the impact on the student and teaching experience at the University of Edinburgh.  

It is advancing a broad speculative, largely qualitative agenda to identify student and faculty attitudes towards automated agents (bots), and values we would want embedded therein; as well as determining appropriate and productive teaching and community-oriented implementations within programme or course contexts.  This project is largely concerned with speculating how a: bots might be used to support teaching and learning practices within distance learning programmes offered through the University of Edinburgh, b: the impact of bots on existing teaching and learning practices as well as the development of new practices that might emerge; and c: the potential impact of the use of bots on the student and teaching experience. 

It is not designed to be driven by instrumental or some measure of efficiency or savings, but rather to move teaching into new spaces and expand the teacher function in spaces where the teacher is already present.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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