Technology

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

Monday, November 10, 2014 Comment cockpit of plane pilot sitting in seat working on computer while plane is in auto pilot

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


Smart Schools in Sentient Cities

Thursday, October 30, 2014 Comment Smart school teacher presenting to students at desks with laptops

What makes a city “smart?” And, in a “smart city,” what makes a “smart school?” Designers, researchers and commercial technology companies are increasingly concerned with the development of “smarter cities,” “programmable cities”  and “sentient cities” that are augmented with big data, sensor networks, and other computationally programmable processes  and software-supported practices. The smart city is an urban environment with a computational “nervous system.” It appears to have some form of awareness, intelligence, and thoughtfulness, along with some ability to learn and to transform itself. In many smart city programs, themes such as “smarter education” are emerging as important


The Case for Open Courses in Higher Ed: Q&A with Connected Learning Educator Kim Jaxon

Thursday, September 18, 2014 Comment kim jaxon teaching at desk to adult students in classroom

Kim Jaxon is interested in having her students “do the thing,” which, she says, means that she’s less interested in preparing them for some later occupation or activity, and more excited about having them “participating right now in ideas that matter to them right now.” The Chico State assistant professor of English is one of a stellar group of open-learning pioneers who I met when they gathered at UC Irvine over the summer to create “Connected Courses,” a free online course for higher education faculty members to learn how to offer their own open online college


Channeling Engelbart: Augmenting Human Education

Monday, September 15, 2014 Comment augmenting human intellect illustration timeline history by Dr Douglas C Engelbart

Gardner Campbell not only teaches the ideas of Doug Engelbart — the visionary who invented the mouse, hypertext and many more of the digital tools so many people use every day — he understands that Engelbart’s technological attempt to “augment human intellect” also ought to be a central goal of pedagogy. Fortunately, as vice provost for learning innovation and associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Campbell is in a good position to pursue this goal in practice. If, as Engelbart insisted, digital media should be seen as means of helping individuals and communities think


Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity

Thursday, August 21, 2014 Comment laptop computer desk with mental warm-up on screen

By the end of 2014, more than 3 billion people will have access to the Internet, which means that they (we) have the power to ask any question at any time and get a multitude of answers within a second. The responsibility for distinguishing between accurate, credible, true information and misinformation or disinformation, however, is no longer vested in trained and vetted experts — editors, publishers, critics, librarians, professors, subject-matter specialists. Now, the enormity, ubiquity and dubious credibility of the information available to most of the world’s population is requiring each of us to become something


Paper Circuitry Illuminates ‘Writing as Making’

Monday, August 18, 2014 Comment student paperwork projects drawings showing writing is making

There has been a great deal of buzz lately about “making” and production-centered learning. As a professor of literature and writing, I have been enthusiastic about the role “making” might play in the classroom. (Even those classrooms or courses that don’t inherently seem to lend themselves to making in the most obvious sense.) But the truth is, this new found enthusiasm is sometimes an uphill march. Should we relinquish our valuable classroom time to such endeavors that seem at best a crafty indulgence, or at worst, a waste of precious instructional time? This summer, I have


Study Proves Why We Need Digital Literacy Education

Thursday, August 14, 2014 Comment teacher giving classroom lesson to male students with computers showing digital literacy in classroom

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


The Selfish Selfie and Simulation, Part 2

Thursday, August 07, 2014 Comment Ellen DeGeneres famous celebrity group oscars selfie

Random autobiographical story: When in school, as part of our elocution classes, we had a dragon for a teacher, who used to prowl around with a menacing looking wooden measuring scale, as we obediently enunciated our words and practiced tongue twisters in an attempt to improve our diction and pronunciation. “She sells shellfish on the sea shore” the class chanted in a well-trained chorus. Every voice a whimper, trying to find comfort in remaining anonymous. But, in the middle of the group chanting, the scale rose and there would be silence. One petrified kid was stared


Addressing “The War on Learning”

Thursday, July 17, 2014 Comment classroom presentation with presenter on War on Formal learning

I’m always interested in technology critics who are accomplished users of the tools they criticize. Elizabeth Losh, director of Academic Programs, Sixth College at UC San Diego, teaches digital rhetoric, digital journalism, and software studies, and she was one of the organizers of a MOOC, FemTechNet, so she is neither opposed to nor unfamiliar with the uses of digital media in education. Losh is concerned, however, about what she perceives as an attack by educators on the kinds of informal learning young people engage in today — and an attack by education reformers on the human


Trust, Privacy and Everyday Life

Monday, July 14, 2014 Comment screenshot of google maps satellite view street view of neighborhood

I recently realized that it was time to move. My oldest son is 7 and he’d learned that “everything was on the Internet’ from a schoolmate, and wanted to see if our “house” was. We lived in a medium size apartment complex where the apartments all share the same address. We were the ground level apartment, with a townhouse above us, but inside the complex. I put the address into Google, switched on streetview, and, much to my surprise, used the little arrows to tour my apartment complex. When I made my way to our front