The future of education: Is it in the Basement?

Picture of 'The Basement' a learning space for digital education. There are comfortable, casual furniture, modern technology and bright walls pictured, as well as a woman looking at an ipad.

Having shiny new EdTech tools is all well and good. Brilliant even. That is, if we assume that all have equal access to this tech-power, which as we know, is not the case. As we saw in the pandemic, our places, our learning spaces differ enormously. As educators and students, we need to talk about ChatGPT, rather than make assumptions about how it can be used. There’s a whole other discussion to be had though, beyond having access to tools and using them to do ‘stuff’ more efficiently. Here’s where the concept of Postdigital education comes to the fore.

Postdigital education

‘Postdigital’ is a relatively new idea that finds its way into many disciplines. Basically, postdigital is used as a way to understand our reality – where digital technology and media are entangled in our lives and everything we do (Jandrić et al., 2018). It is critical of the digital in education though. For example, Costello (2023) dares to ask among the hype, ChatGPT and the Educational AI Chatter: Full of Bullshit or Trying to Tell Us Something? Educational research using the postdigital turn involves a rethinking of the relationship between humans and technology, as well as how we know and research education (Jandrić & Knox, 2022). It’s about thinking of education in transdisciplinary ways. How might a musical lens change our thinking about learning spaces, for example?

Let’s get down and (post)digital in ‘The Basement

At the University of Sydney Business School, we are interested in learning space design to support large interactive workshops. But more broadly, we’re interested in learning spaces and educational technology.

With those things in mind, I recently spoke to Janina Becker about postdigital education at ‘The Basement’. Janina explained how ‘The Basement’ was designed and built for a range of educational scenarios and purposes in the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media, | Georg Eckert Institute (GEI) in Braunschweig, Germany.

Basically, The Basement is an open space where people from all backgrounds can experiment with educational futures. The basement team are deeply intrigued by the intersection of technologies in educational content, design and processes. Together, they share ideas, learn from one another’s experiences, and collectively explore solutions for open and inclusive digital learning processes with the community. The idea is to be immersed in the world of digital education, explore its possibilities, and help critically shape it through collaborative reflection.

There’s play with technology, for sure. Games, Learning, and 21st Century Survival Skills (Gee, 2009) are important to this postdigital space. But more than that, the Basement is a space to connect research, teaching, learning, and other creative projects. Researchers and practitioners reflect on approaches to open (digital) learning and explore strategies to push the boundaries of traditional education. Their aim is to bring together academics, students, teachers, and educational software developers to create a community that actively challenges established routines and questions assumptions around learning and digital practices. It is like a social, living lab.

Postdigital participation in Social Living Labs

The Basement is one initiative in a much larger collaboration, The Leibniz ScienceCampus – Postdigital Participation.

Social living labs are designed for collaboration and co-creation among diverse groups in urban research projects. Queensland researcher Dezuanni (2018) suggests that social living labs can help digital participation and engagement, and connect learning across physical and virtual spaces. Social living labs in regional Australia have shown the potential of informal learning and digital capacity building in such spaces (Hughes et al., 2018). Because these labs are grounded in local contexts (even in basements!), they’re more likely to meet the social needs of locals.

Want to know more?

You can read more at Welcome – Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus – Post-Digital Participation. or visit The Basement website. If you’re interested in open and inclusive digital participation in Australia, try The Australian Living Labs Innovation Network (ALLiN).

And finally, did any of these ideas of postdigital participation in higher education resonate with you? If so, reach out to us at business.co-design@sydney.edu.au to continue this rich, multifaceted conversation!

About the author

Carmen is an educational designer, researcher, and writer based on Wangal land in Sydney, Australia. Lurks on twitter and LinkedIn @cjvallis.

Published by Carmen Vallis

Carmen is an educational designer, researcher, and writer based on Wangal land in Sydney, Australia. Lurks on twitter and LinkedIn @cjvallis.

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