The hype of the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to surround us with a narrative that the future world of work is changing. Learning therefore needs to also change accordingly for us humans to remain competitive and relevant in the 21st century – in a digitally enabled world, with the rise of artificial intelligence. Needless to say, digital learning in the 21st century is everyone’s business.

Drawing from the literature and case studies of digital learning innovation projects within higher education contexts, this talk aims to revive the rhetorical debate by reimagining the notions underpinning digital education and learning – the place where digital learning emerges, physically, virtually and spiritually; the purpose of why digital education is essential for contemporary learners and teachers; and finally, possibilities of where digital learning might take us into the future.

Threading these discussions, the notion of belonging as a basic human need will shed us light in this exploration. Guerin and McMenamin (2018) noted that “belonging can be understood as a dynamic construct that is shaped by our interactions with people, places and things (p.2).” The act of belonging and sense-making is therefore a form of learning and largely impacts on the construction of our ‘authentic self’. In a highly digital context, however, the ways in which we connect and make meaning of life, work and relationships can be unique and complex. Given these digital performances are inherently vulnerable, the learning of these ought to be courageous. In conclusion, this talk offers some practical recommendations for the future of digital education by reframing it as ‘courageous’ science.

Find out more about Dr Chie Adachi

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