John Jones

Back Camera

John is an Assistant Professor of Professional Writing and Editing at West Virginia University where he teaches writing and digital literacy. He was formerly a Visiting Assistant Professor of Emerging Media and Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas, and from 2007-2009 he was an Assistant Director of the “Digital Writing and Research Lab” at the University of Texas at Austin. While at the DWRL, John co-founded and served as Managing Editor for Viz, a website and blog investigating the connections between rhetoric and visual culture.

Blogs (54)

The Book Test

Monday, December 28, 2015

Launa Hall’s recent essay in the Washington Post describes her misgivings and concerns about her third-grade students using ipads in the classroom. Hall describes a handful of arresting moments when her students’ ipad use caused them to tune out both her and each other in favor of their devices, setting the contemporary technology aesthetic of “sleek devices” and “shining screens” against the “give-and-take” of “human interaction.” Hall’s essay is one of a modern genre that despairs over the growing ubiquity of mobile technologies and their impact on human values like conversation and connectedness, but it is

The Closed Loop of Digital Literacy Debate

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Here’s a quiz for you, reader. The following quotes were written about popular books on the effect of technology on our behavior and culture. One was written in the late 1990s and one was written this year. See if you can guess which is which (no Googling, cheaters). Our rapturous submission to digital technology has led to an atrophying of human capacities like empathy and self-­reflection, and the time has come to reassert ourselves, behave like adults and put technology in its place. And …computer-based environments for the practice of literacy are described as contributing to

Cursive Writing and the Importance of Teaching Skills

Monday, September 21, 2015

For most of the past decade, I have spent a week each summer reading essays by high schoolers in the Advanced Placement program. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend: They are getting easier to read. Not in the sense that the students are better at organizing their ideas or crafting sentences than they have been in previous years, but rather they are literally easier to read. This past year, while reading through my 100th or so essay one day, I realized why: Most of the students aren’t writing in cursive anymore. Of course,

Book Lacks Digital Reading Details

Monday, July 20, 2015

The goal of “Words Onscreen,” Naomi S. Baron’s new book, is to account for the ways that “digital reading is reshaping our understanding of what it means to read” (p. xii). Baron argues that “digital reading is fine for many short pieces or for light content we don’t intend to analyze or reread,” but it “is less well suited for many longer works or even for short ones requiring serious thought” (p. xii). While Baron largely does an excellent job surveying the changes that new technologies have introduced to our reading habits — her demonstration of

Why Theory is Practical

Monday, May 18, 2015

A recent editorial by Jason Ma in Forbes documents a fascinating array of experiential learning programs. While I am not against experiential learning, it concerned me that Ma made the case for this learning by placing it against theory. As he puts it: As a college student decades ago, I generally disliked overly theoretical and impractical courses without real-world references or applicability that were taught by professors with seemingly minimum experience working in the real world. I really enjoyed the more creative or practical ones taught by engaging professors who have experience outside academia. As his

Why Apple is Good at Design

Monday, March 09, 2015

Today’s impending release of the Apple Watch, Apple’s highly-anticipated entry into wearable computing, has prompted a new round of discussion about the company’s design prowess. While the computer-maker’s design chops are universally acknowledged, praise for the company is often presented as a series of paradoxes. Where Apple has promoted “empathy with user needs” as a design philosophy, the company keeps its distance from market research. Although Apple is hailed as an innovative maker of technology products, it rarely creates new product categories, preferring instead to innovate within existing categories — the Ipod, Iphone, and now the Apple

Let’s Ban Bans in The Classroom

Monday, January 26, 2015

It’s starting to seem like there is a new ritual being performed at the beginning of each new semester: debating the use of technology in the classroom. In these debates, “technology” almost never means all human-made tools — I’ve yet to read an earnest blog post calling for a ban on pencils in the classroom — but rather portable electronics, most notably the laptop. Perhaps the most prominent voice calling for a ban on laptops is that of Clay Shirky, a new media scholar. Last fall, he posted an article to Medium explaining why he forbids

The Technophobe’s Dilemma: Nicholas Carr’s ‘The Glass Cage’

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nicholas Carr is well-known for his work critiquing emerging technologies, particularly his argument that “Google is making us stupid.” In his new book, “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014), he works in the same vein, taking on automation, or “the use of computers and software to do things we used to do ourselves.” Unfortunately, as with his argument against Google, in this book, Carr works too hard to demonize automation technologies, stretching examples and not working through the logic of his arguments. The end result is disappointing. Carr’s genuine insights

Study Proves Why We Need Digital Literacy Education

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A few months ago, the Internet buzzed with the results of a study comparing students’ note-taking on computers versus note-taking with paper and pen. In the article, authors Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer shared the results of three experiments comparing these two note-taking conditions, and their conclusion was signaled in the title: “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard.” Following the authors’ lead, most media reports treated these results as proof that using laptops for note-taking — or, some argued, any classroom use — was detrimental to learning. However, I think the results point

Creativity and Electronic Invention

Monday, June 09, 2014

“Our current education system is ill-prepared to educate the next generation of creative leaders. Developing every individual’s creative potential will be one of the crucial value-creating factors for leading economies in the Imagination Age.” I’m allergic to most everything in that paragraph. Not everyone is going to be a leader. Creativity is important even when — maybe especially when — it isn’t a value-creating factor for leading economies. And the Imagination Age sounds like a ride at Disney World.  However, it did get me thinking about creativity and education, and what, exactly, creativity can mean in

Productivity and Play in Digital Media and Learning

Monday, May 05, 2014

A new report from the Technology & Social Change Group at the University of Washington’s Information School argues that, in the context of learning, using computers and other communication technologies for play is equally as important as using them for work or other “productive” activities.  The authors of the study state that the usage policies for publicly accessible computers tend to favor “productive” uses — such as looking for work or conducting research — over (supposedly) non-productive ones, like playing games or accessing social networks. However, in their research, they found that it was not easy to

Reading Like a Computer Reads

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spritz is a startup that wants to change how people read on small screens. The startup has created an app that feeds texts to readers one word at a time, arranged so that their eyes are not “forc[ed]…to spend time moving around the page.” You can see a demonstration in this video. The Spritz reading technique allows readers to see as many as 1,000 words per minute, and promises developers that it will make “streaming your content easy and more comfortable, especially on small displays.” When writing about Spritz, one commonplace has been to note that the technique

Reading Comprehension: Paper or Screen?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

In a recent post, I critiqued the claims in Ferris Jabr’s Scientific American article, “Why the Brain Prefers Paper” that addressed the differences in comprehension between reading from paper and reading from screens. Where Jabr argues that screen reading limits comprehension, I show how his analysis focused only on certain kinds of screen reading, ignoring features of digital texts that challenge his claims. I also looked at some of the research Jabr cites, showing how the results of that research didn’t support his particular arguments. In this post, I want to take another look at that

The 5 Most Interesting Writing Developments for 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

It is a common theme to complain about the way that writing (or reading or math) skills are declining as our society becomes increasingly digitized. In this post, I look at some examples of the way that digital technologies are making writing more interesting by exploring stories or trends from the past year that have impacted writing and the teaching of writing. Not all of these examples suggest that writing is getting better (or that it is getting worse). Rather, they illustrate how writing is changing under the influence of emerging technologies. 1. Writing is in

How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Although electronic texts have been with us for many decades, in the past few years electronic reading has become increasingly popular. The ready availability of mobile, connected devices like smartphones and tablets, along with dedicated ereaders like the Kindle and Nook, have moved electronic reading out from behind a desk into the environment. This change has brought increasing attention to the differences between reading in print and reading via digital devices. In a recent article in Scientific American, Ferris Jabr argues that “paper still has advantages over screens as a reading medium,” claiming that “most studies

Digital Humanists Should Be Copyright Activists

Friday, September 27, 2013

In a recent blog post for the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, Ben Alpers argues that iBooks Author is not very well suited for humanities learning. I have written before about problems with iBooks Author’s Terms of Service, but Alpers critiques the program’s authoring tools, arguing that its bias towards the presentation of “concepts and facts,” along with whiz-bang features like live manipulation of 3D models and short video clips, are designed to support the learning that occurs in scientific and technical fields, rather than the humanities (In fairness, I would argue that the focus on

Teaching Surveillance

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Across the US, schools are back in session. My university started back last week, and, as I usually do, I spent the first day of class discussing the syllabus, explaining to students my expectations for them and the course. When I do this, I always devote some time to explain the different digital tools we will use in the course and suggest additional tools students can use to make their lives easier. In this additional tools category, I like to emphasize the importance of backing up one’s data and in one of my classes I suggested

What “Teaching Computers” Can Tell Us about Teaching Digital Culture

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In a recent piece at Locus, Cory Doctorow argues: Computers are the children of the human race’s mind, and as they become intimately involved in new aspects of our lives, we keep stumbling into semantic minefields, where commonly understood terms turn out to have no single, well-agreed-upon meaning across all parts of society. As an example, Doctorow gives the “real names” policies of social network sites like Facebook and Google+. Where it may seem simple for a person to use his or her legal name on a website, Doctorow uses the example of his family, immigrants

Are MOOCs An Extension of Academic Publishing into Teaching?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Over the past few months, there has been a growing backlash against MOOCs. If you aren’t familiar with the term, massive open online courses — college courses that (for now) are free and will enroll anyone, generally without any restrictions on the size of a course — have been around in various forms for some time, but the term has gained wider exposure with the very public introduction of the for-profit MOOC startups Udacity and Coursera. These companies have advocated the ability of MOOCs to provide access to education to anyone with an Internet connection. As

Writing for Interaction, Part 2

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Media and literary theorists have argued for some time that reading is an inherently interactive process. To give only one example, the history of reading is mostly a history of bodily performance: reading to an audience or group, or reading out loud to oneself. It was only in the Middle Ages that reading silently to oneself became an accepted norm in the west. Since that time, reading out loud has continued to be a popular practice, and much writing, like poetry, is specifically designed to take advantage of this form of interaction. This can be seen

Writing for Interaction

Monday, March 18, 2013

We are all quite familiar with interactive writing. Business writing is a nearly constant stream of emails and memos that reply to and reference other texts. Teachers and students engage in a dialectic of writing, response, and revision, using tools from electronic texts to margin scribbles. The Internet is built on the back of blogs and comment threads and message boards, while everyone from teenagers to the Pope send texts and tweets. If we expand our understanding of writing to include not just words on paper or a screen but also verbal communication practices like leaving

eBooks Want to Be Free

Friday, January 18, 2013

In my last post, I argued that an alternative to the Web 2.0 vision of the Internet—one where individuals “create value” for the corporations that run online networks—are the decentralized networks of the Occupy movement. Perhaps the clearest outline of the Web 2.0 philosophy applied to the Web is in Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It, in which he describes how the trend of Web development has been to limit the Internet’s traditional openness, that of any device being connected to the network and the ability to transfer any type of

The Network Society After Web 2.0: What Students Can Learn From Occupy Wall Street

Monday, December 24, 2012

Web 2.0 is a common buzzword used to describe social media. The term gained traction in the mid-2000s to describe a change in the way people interacted with media online. Rather than simply being passive consumers, individuals could now interact with media, by making mashups with Google Maps or leaving comments on purchases at Amazon. They could blog about issues that were important to them and interact with a community of other like-minded individuals. In short, the promise of Web 2.0 is that individuals were no longer beholden to media corporations but had gained a kind

Contextualizing Big Data and Lessons for DML

Monday, November 05, 2012

Recently I had the opportunity to go to the Internet Research 13.0 (IR13) conference hosted by the University of Salford. One popular theme of the conference was the increasingly important role that big data is playing in Internet research. As more and more people use social media sites the amount of data they generate is growing exponentially. Consequently, as researchers seek to learn more about what people do online, they are increasingly turning to this data (when they can get access to it) to make sense of the ways that the Web is continually influencing culture

Online Learning and Teaching Writing

Friday, September 21, 2012

For whatever reason, discussions of online education are in the air. Cathy Davidson frequently writes about the challenges facing our education system on this blog, and when a consortium of top universities combined to create an online course initiative, it seemed that online education had grown past its infancy as was ready for mainstream acceptance. That initiative, Coursera, has clearly excited the public, as it now boasts over one million students taking free online courses. Yet it has not been without its critics. Recently, Adam F. Falk has argued that solutions like Coursera offer students an incomplete education

Writing Like the Web

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In my last few posts, I have argued that network writing—that is, writing that mimics the conventions of emerging, online genres—should occupy a larger place in writing instruction. However, it can be challenging to imagine how literacies that students have developed in writing, say, text messages, can be applied to writing traditional genres like the argumentative essay or the academic writing that are the centerpiece of most writing instruction. While many innovative instructors have developed assignments that integrate network-native writing like Twitter into classroom settings, how does this writing inform or lead to writing that is

Writing Without Networks

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In his essay, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Nicholas Carr relates an exchange between Nietzsche and one of his friends, in which the friend remarked that the philosopher’s writing style had changed after he began to use a typewriter. As Carr tells us, Nietzsche’s reply was to agree, stating, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Those who study technology (Carr credits Kittler, who has written extensively about the effects of technology on culture, as the source of the Nietzsche story) tend to readily agree with these conclusions: technologies impact our behavior

The Challenge of Teaching Networked Writing

Monday, June 25, 2012

In my last post I wrote about what Derek Mueller calls the “digital underlife,” the writing practices of students that fall below the radar of classroom practice, but which are crucial ways in which these students practice literacy. In that post I argued that it is important for teachers to acknowledge the ways in which our students actually write and encourage them to think of themselves as writers. Yet doing so doesn’t answer another crucial question: how does this writing fit into our instruction? For a sense of perspective, it is worth noting that this is a

Digital Underlife and the Writing Classroom

Monday, May 14, 2012

In a 1987 paper, Robert Brooke argued that instructors needed to pay attention to the ways that students didn’t pay attention, like passing notes in class or whispering conversations. Building on the work of Erving Goffman, Brooke argued that these behaviors represented a writing “underlife” that was a means for students “to show that their identities are different from or more complex than the identities assigned them” in the classroom or school as a whole (p. 230). Fast forward to now. In a recent paper, Derek Mueller argues that the underlife needs to be reexamined, as

From Conversation to Collection

Monday, April 16, 2012

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a symposium on the digital humanities hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Digital Media research group. The occasion was the publication of “Debates in the Digital Humanities,” a collection addressing the changing nature of this emerging field. A number of contributors to the collection attended the symposium and shared some really exciting research, but what jumped out at me was a conversation between Matt Gold, the editor of the collection, and Doug Armato, the book’s publisher. The two shared with the session the process that went into publishing the

Distributed Writing: From Bad to Brilliant

Monday, March 12, 2012

In the report “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture” the authors argue that distributed cognition is a key skill that citizens must master to be active in participatory culture. Of course, most writing depends on some form of participation; show me a great writer, and you will likely find that there is a great editor, and quite likely a group of interested readers, providing feedback and support for him or her. While I could quibble that distributed cognition is a thing that happens, rather than a skill to be developed, I think this report is notable

eBooks, Writing, and Ownership

Thursday, February 09, 2012

One of the great promises of the internet is that it allows for writing to be distributed outside of the restrictions imposed by traditional publications. On the internet there is no scarcity of resources, no oversight by editors, and no need to tap a pre-identified audience, and these features of web publishing have made it possible for anyone with access to post nearly anything to be read by potentially anyone else. However, while the gains for writers have been very real, there remains a distinct hierarchy between the products of the traditional publishing industry and web-based

Social Reading and the Foundations of Digital Literacy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not long ago, I was on an airplane waiting for takeoff. Due to the completely reasonable FAA restrictions on using electronic devices, I was reading the print version of a magazine while we waited to taxi to the runway. I soon found I was absorbed in the content of the article, and, when a passage caught my eye, I reflexively tapped the page with my index finger in an attempt to highlight the passage, just as I would have done when reading on my tablet computer. Of course, I quickly realized that print does not work that

Digital Literacy: Search Algorithms are Mechanical Turks

Thursday, December 08, 2011

One of the most pervasive features of computing culture are algorithms, the sets of processes or instructions contained in computer code that determine how a particular task will be completed. While algorithms power everything from your automatic coffee maker to your smart phone, because they are frequently hidden from their users, it can be easy to ignore these algorithms and their impact on how we gain access to information. One of the areas where algorithms have the most impact is on our information search and retrieval practices. Online search is dominated by complex searching algorithms, the

Teaching Publishing as a 21st Century Literacy

Friday, November 11, 2011

For years, a common method for teaching writing in elementary and secondary school was the five paragraph essay. Lately this style of essay has fallen out of favor, for a variety of reasons. However, one of the most compelling reasons to avoid teaching the five paragraph essay is that it is a form of writing that isn’t really found out in the wild. That is, you don’t often see these essays outside of the classroom in magazines or newspapers or other public writing venues. It was really the creation of the academy that had very little

Digital Literacies for Writing in Social Media

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The following is a shortened version of a talk I gave at the “Engaging the Public” symposium held at Washington & Jefferson College on Oct. 1. According to Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It, 65 percent of students entering school today will have careers in fields that haven’t been invented yet. While #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp, I’m willing to make the following prediction about writing: a full 100% of these students, at some point in their lives, will be required to use writing technologies that haven’t been invented yet. Consider this: as recently as four years ago, who would have

Changing the Game

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Across the U.S., students are returning to their schools and college campuses. It also appears to be the beginning of a mini-revolution in the way digital media and learning are seen to affect the underlying structure of our educational system. It seems that everyday we are presented with news and commentary pointing to the ways the educational system is not preparing students to meet the challenges of the future. Here at DMLcentral, Monika Hardy has described the importance of changing our ways of thinking and working together while Ben Williamson has written about the challenges of

Digital Illiteracy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Besides being a Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, Roger Ebert is a serious reader, and in a recent post on his blog, he blasts a “retelling” of The Great Gatsby that dumbs down the prose of the original novel for “intermediate level readers,” thereby robbing them of the full experience of the novel’s literary richness. After providing a few comparisons between the original and the new version, Ebert made a claim that jumped out at me: “You can’t become literate by being taught illiteracy, and you can’t read The Great Gatsby without reading it.” No doubt

Search Personalization and Digital Literacy

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The near total dominance of computer search over our information gathering has presented our culture with an interesting (and possibly unique) problem in the history of information management: what you see when you search for something can be quite different from what I see when I search. This is because search engines (and other recommendation services, like the suggestions at Amazon and Netflix) monitor our behavior and tailor the results we see to their records of our past behavior. In other words, the search results we are served are based on what we have clicked on

How to Make a Million Dollars, One Facebook Class at a Time

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The fall of 2007 was, in many ways, a simpler time: the most popular social network in the United States was an Los Angeles-based outfit called Myspace; Apple had just released an all-in-one touchscreen iPod, phone, and wireless computing device it called the iPhone; and Facebook, the up-and-coming niche social network for college students, had unveiled something it called the Facebook Platform. Yes, before Apple introduced its phenomenally successful App Store, Facebook developed a plan to turn the site into something more than the sum of its pokes. Building on Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle’s observation

When Robots Write

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Robots are always in the news, it seems. Whether they are serving as caregivers for the elderly or helping solve the Japanese nuclear crisis, robots are becoming an increasingly important part of contemporary life. Even though we all don’t yet own a personal robot assistant, there is a way in which automated processes are part of all of our lives: in the many bots that make the data structures of the Internet possible. Bots aren’t robots in the traditional sense, but rather are computer programs that scour the Net performing increasingly complex tasks. In his fascinating

Revolutionary New Technology + Old Teaching Methods = ?

Monday, March 07, 2011

In a recent post on her blog, Duke’s Cathy Davidson responds to a New York Times article on the increasing popularity of iPads in schools, arguing that iPads, or any technology, aren’t a panacea for education.  To support her point, Davidson tells the story of how, when she was a Vice Provost at Duke, she helped create a program that gave iPods to incoming freshman.  However, she points out that these students weren’t simply given the new music player and expected to carry on as if everything were the same — that is, as if they

Wikipedia: Information Source and Knowledge Community

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One of the challenges facing the digital media and learning community—in fact, all educators—is the rapid pace of technological development that makes necessary the constant evaluation and investigation of new information and communication technologies. As a writing researcher, I am fascinated by the way in which knowledge communities shape writing, and these knowledge communities are often effective means of orienting students to new information sources. One of the most fascinating of these communities is Wikipedia, and Colleen A. Reilly of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, has just written an interesting new article on how students

Teaching Digital Literacy

Monday, January 17, 2011

In literate societies, the idea of teaching someone how to read but not how to write is practically inconceivable. The dual connection between reading and writing is built into the very notion of literacy, making it a challenge to understand how someone could possibly do one without the other. It is safe to say that being able to use a medium as well as understand the processes of creation in that medium are the dual foundations of literacy in all media. This is the premise underlying the argument of media scholar Douglas Rushkoff‘s new book, Program

The Joy of Writing – With Ancient Tools or New

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Telegraph recently published an article announcing that, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, “ancient communication technologies” like handwriting “are current like never before.” The title of the article — “How Twitter made handwriting cool” — is a little misleading in that there isn’t much in the article to suggest how Twitter has any impact on the “coolness” of handwriting. Rather, it stands in as a representative of social media, against which the handwriting “movement” establishes itself as cool by rebelling against this new fad. Besides establishing this kind of knee-jerk binary between handwriting and new

Community and Writing in an Age of New Collectives

Monday, November 08, 2010

In Larry Sanger’s history of the development of Wikipedia in Open Sources 2.0, the Wikipedia co-founder writes: For months I denied that Wikipedia was a community, claiming that it was, instead, only an encyclopedia project, and that there should not be any serious governance problems if people would simply stick to the task of making an encyclopedia. This was wishful thinking. In fact, Wikipedia was from the beginning both a community and an encyclopedia project. (p. 329; my emphasis). In other words, Sanger argues that the problems he associated with Wikipedia when he was head of

Post-Platonic Writing on the Web

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In the Phaedrus, Plato famously objected to writing, noting that it would cause a number of ills: it would lead to the decay of memory, it would deceive people into thinking that they possessed knowledge merely because they had read about it, and it was dumb – that is, it couldn’t answer questions in a dialectical format. If I read something I don’t understand or disagree with, I can’t ask the text to explain itself. It will always say what it says, forever. In general, the response of technologists has been that Plato was both right

Digital Media and the Changing Nature of Authorship

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Students spend a lot of time writing. Most everyone vividly remembers writing essays for school, and, for many, those memories are not necessarily pleasant. Talk of writing in the classroom often dredges up images of empty pages yawning to be filled, writer’s block, and a general uneasiness with the idea of writing in general. The papers we wrote were typically read only by our teachers, and maybe our classmates, after which they disappeared never to be seen again. In Literacy in American Lives, Deborah Brandt explains the origin for some of these uneasy feelings, noting that

Probing What’s Next in Learning and Technology, Pt 2

Monday, July 12, 2010

Children in Nigeria use laptops from the One Laptop Per Child movement. In the second part of my interview with Keene Haywood, Director of Research at the New Media Consortium, publisher of the annual Horizon Report on technology in education, we covered: the future of textbooks, visualization teaching methods, use of augmented reality and gesture-based computing, open content movement, new media literacies, and practical strategies for advancing the field of digital media and learning In light of the rise of open content and other forms of electronic communication, how viable will the book be in 2-3

Searching for What’s Next in Learning and Digital Media

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A young girl in rural South America uses a laptop from the One Laptop Per Child movement.  The New Media Consortium (NMC) is publisher of the annual Horizon Report, which “seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have considerable impact on teaching, learning, and creative expression within higher education.”  I recently had an opportunity to talk with Keene Haywood, Director of Research at NMC, and probe a bit further into the 2010 Horizon Report, which covered trends in mobile learning, open source content, the future of textbooks, among many other pressing topics at the

The iPad and Generativity

Monday, April 19, 2010

Since the announcement of Apple’s iPad, reactions to the device have been extremely polarized. While some people have been highly critical of the device, others have reacted positively. Still others have reacted first negatively then positively or, more disorientingly, both at the same time. A striking similarity of many of the most-cited negative reviews of the iPad is that they appeared before the reviewers ever had a chance to interact with the device. For both positive and negative reviewers, this approach made it much easier to praise or critique the iPad as an idea, rather than

Apprenticeship 2.0 Could Fuel 21st Century Learning

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In a recent New Yorker piece on cookbooks, Adam Gopnik observes that “the space between learning the facts about how something is done and learning how to do it always turns out to be large, at times immense.” Although Gopnik is explicitly referring to cooking, this statement could be equally applied to most forms of learning since the nineteenth century. As Cathy Davidson points out, the history of modern education has been that of the constant refinement of how we rank and classify individuals and their relative worth. Cathy notes that this history is intimately bound up

eBooks and Learning

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Now that the ebook industry has set its sights on the textbook and educational markets, it’s especially important for educators to shape discussion of the benefits and potential impact of ereaders. Rather than bemoan the loss of wood pulp and glue that make up current texts, we are better served by asking how these physical objects serve learning, and what is lost (or gained) by replacing them with electronic texts. One doesn’t have to abandon a love for print books to appreciate the unique affordances of new technologies. For example: how many would prefer poring through

Classroom Authority and Twitter

Monday, December 21, 2009

An interesting aspect of Twitter’s recent surge in popularity has been how educators have embraced the technology, not just for networking and personal communication, but also in the classroom. Many teachers have found Twitter to be a helpful tool for accessing the backchannel—the discussion students are having about what is going on in the classroom—in real time. In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Jeffrey R. Young interviewed two teachers who use Twitter in large lecture courses, projecting students’ Twitter posts in the classroom live. Experiments like these frighten many instructors. As Young puts it: