Course info

Course Overview

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Persona, society and technology: processes of transformation in a digital age.

We are becoming digital in a way that is not clearly understandable yet. We are no longer capable of distinguishing between what is real and what is virtual, as we did at the beginning of the digital story. Our lives, bodies, emotions, feelings and memories are strongly embedded in the digital world. For better or worse, we are living in a technological era which is re-defining how we think, learn, love, work. What does it mean to be a digital persona? What is the role of algorithms, the digital unconscious and knowledge networks.

This collective MOOC involves distinguished experts in the field of digital culture in open discussion. They present their own reflections on these questions, and their contributions take us through the changing landscape of self, society and technology, transforming hopes and criticism into food for thought.

Whatever your reason for joining this MOOC, you can explore the questions with our experts to clarify your own responses.

You can exploit the course in 2 ways

1. Serendipity

Play a game of Fortune. Choose any expert as your starting point and then randomly construct your own learning journey through digital culture. You will discover your own logic and connections between the different contributions. Using the coursebook, you can record and comment your journey, and share it with other users. 

Click on the video tutorial to find out more about the Coursebook feature.

2. Guided tour

You can see these MOOC lessons as conceptual sets that navigate you through the changing technological and societal landscape. Each set offers you different perspectives and challenges to reflect on and enjoy:

(i) Situating individual minds within the landscape (Bogliolo, Sorrentino, de Waard, Webster)

(ii) Mapping emerging territories and directing the individual within the new socio-technical regimes (Orban, Weinberger, Downes, Miranda)

(iii) Describing/redescribing paradigms and realities (Boyd, Kerckhove, Powe, van Heusden).

In the lesson of Digital Dis-courses MOOC,  Barend van Heusden introduces a theory of Culture and Media that was developed during a project he supervises on Culture Education in the Netherlands. In the light of his theory, his second lesson looks at how Education might evolve in the future.

Course Structure

  • Lesson 1 - Searching for balance: on culture and culture education
  • Lesson 2 - On the future of culture education: from Canon to knowledge


Barend van Heusden

Barend van Heusden holds the chair of Culture and Cognition, with special reference to the Arts, in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media Studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is Director for the Humanities and member of the Board of Education of the University College Groningen (UCG), and advisor for culture education to the Minister of Science and Culture in Lower Saxony (D).
Van Heusden has published articles and books in the fields of literary and culture theory, semiotics and cognition, as well as arts and culture education. From 2009 till 2014 he supervised the Dutch national project ‘Culture in the Mirror: toward a curriculum for culture education’. In this project, culture education was approached from a cognitive-semiotic perspective. A framework was developed that allows schools and teachers to design a culture curriculum tailored to the pupils' development and culture. In 2011, the Flemish government joined the project.