Organisations across the world are investing in upskilling their staff so that they can expertly navigate the complex digital world of the 21st century. To do this, people need more than just a technical understanding of emerging technologies—they need to be able to think in systems.

The School of Cybernetics is bringing cybernetics to the world through innovative research-informed and effective microlearning experiences—for tertiary students, industry, government and communities. We are catalysing cybernetic learning experiences beyond the university walls, taking educational experiences into other places that people learn.

Acknowledging the School’s profound responsibility to the future generations, our interactive educational programs lean into the complexity and have an emphasis on creating meaningful and relevant experiences. They are committed to inclusivity, sustainability and are grounded in theory-based practice.

In our microlearning modules, each participant will explore scenarios, both imaginative and real-world, and apply cybernetic tools and thinking to reflect on approaches to the successful planning, implementation and communication of emerging technologies across diverse contexts.

Current modules#

Join us as we create encounters with cybernetics to help you see the world differently. Check our current microlearning modules below to learn more about our cybernetic tools.

Artificial Intelligence—a view from cybernetics#

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Art by Ken Wheeler

  • mode: in person
  • participants: 10–40

AI is a technology within broader cybernetic systems, encompassing complex interactions of human, technological and ecological factors. In this course participants will learn how to use a cybernetic lens to unpack AI stories and reflect on new ways to talk productively about AI without being beholden to existing technological narratives. We will look at AI-enabled systems as cybernetic systems and explore how interactions within and between the components of the system can lead to unexpected outcomes. Finally, we will consider different potential future scenarios for AI-enabled systems, analysing the possibility and preferability of different possible futures to inform our present-day decisions and actions. These topics will be explained through practical examples and case studies drawn from industry, government and community settings.

This course is offered by the School of Cybernetics through the ANU Centre for Continuing Education, and is open to anyone who has an interest in AI and its application in industry, government and education.

AI stories#

Art by Ken Wheeler

  • mode: in person, online
  • participants: 6–30

Cybernetics can help us understand the broader human, environmental, and technology systems in and around artificial intelligence (AI). The stories we hear every day about AI can influence the way we think about the implementation, use, and regulation of AI systems. In this module, we introduce methods that help you extract useful information from an AI story, and practice applying these to news, advertisements, fictional, and historical stories about AI.

Cybernetic Futures#

Art by Ken Wheeler

  • mode: in person
  • participants: 10–40

Cybernetics can help us understand our own perspectives. The ways we think about the future affect the decisions we make (and the systems we build) in the present, and vice versa. When we think about the future it’s hard to step outside of cliches. In this workshop, we introduce futuring – a set of practices and frameworks to help think differently about the future.

Taking technology to scale#

Art by Ken Wheeler

  • deliver modality: in person, online
  • participants: 6–30

Cybernetics can help us understand the broader human, environmental, and technology systems in and around taking technology to scale. History is more than just a backstory. It is the backbone and map to territories that have already been traversed. Knowing the history of a technology, or the ideas it embodies, can provide better questions, reveal potential pitfalls and lessons already learned, and open a window onto the lives of those who learned them. In this workshop, we use the Overland Telegraph Line as a historic case study to help understand systems of modern technology.

System mapping#

Art by Midjourney v4

  • delivery modality: in person, online
  • participants: at least 6

A key idea in cybernetics is that the system is a critical unit of analysis, but systems can be complex. Systems mapping is a process of understanding and visualizing complex systems and the relationships between different variables. This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to using causal loop diagrams, giving you the skills you need to effectively map and analyse systems in your own work.

Cybernetic Star#

Cybnernetic Star image

  • delivery modality: in person, online
  • participants: at least 10

Cybernetics can help us understand the broader human, environmental, and technology systems in and around the workplace. Ideal for decision-makers in complex systems, this module introduces the Cybernetic Star: a simple and effective tool for bringing the components of systems to light across the domains of people, technology, and the environment. Participants will practice applying the Cybernetic Star to a case study complex system, exploring different vantage points and the effects of component changes.

You are on Aboriginal land.

The Australian National University acknowledges, celebrates and pays our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of the Canberra region and to all First Nations Australians on whose traditional lands we meet and work, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

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