Vanguard, laggard or relic? The possible futures of higher education after the Epistemic Revolution


  • Dion Dennis Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA
  • Jabbar Al-Obaidi



Content-Delivery Systems, Education, Design


The early twenty-first century networked information economy has generated new communicative fields and literacies, and new forms of knowledge production, sociality and creative expression. The emergence of decentralized techno-social fields, exemplified by Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and virtual gaming communities, on teaching, learning, institutional hierarchies and sources of authority, presents both problems and opportunities. This article claims that the current moment represents an Epistemic Break in the Academy, and this piece traces some of how this is so. In doing so, we argue that as educational products and experiences contend with other multi–mediated forms of communication, significantly more attention must be paid to the aesthetic, functional and emotional elements of multimedia design creation and modification of course materials, as these materials vie for the attention of Digital Natives. The conclusion suggests both practices and policies needed for higher education to successfully compete for student attention in the current media intensive environment.

Author Biographies

Dion Dennis, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA

Dion Dennis is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State College (MA). He teaches courses on emerging technology, new forms of property and equally new forms of social control; neo-liberalism and 21st Century policing and corrections; and justice, media and crime. His essays and reviews have appeared in CTHEORY, Postmodern Culture, The Education Policy Analysis Archives, the Academic Exchange Quarterly, Rhizomes, Culture and Agriculture, Fast Capitalism, and First Monday, as well as in new and reprinted form in several print anthologies.

Jabbar Al-Obaidi

associate professor of communication studies and media technology, chairperson of the department of communication studies of Bridgewater State College, and the coordinator of the Middle East Studies Program. His research focuses on media and culture, instructional technologies, media literacy, media ethics and practices, teaching and learning in the age of digital media. He is the author of Media censorship in the Middle East (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2007). His interest also includes producing documentary films. He teaches undergraduate course in the area of media and communication theories, media technologies, methodologies, and intercultural communication. He also teaches a graduate course of communication, information, and management.




How to Cite

Dennis, D., & Al-Obaidi, J. (2010). Vanguard, laggard or relic? The possible futures of higher education after the Epistemic Revolution. First Monday, 15(3).