[iDC] learning ecologies

Andreas Schiffler aschiffler at ferzkopp.net
Sun Apr 11 04:09:20 UTC 2010

I am half way through reading Mark Bauerlein's alarmist "The Dumbest 
Generation" (Backcover catchphrase: ... reveals the disturbing and 
ultimately, incontrovertible truth, cyberculture is turning us into a 
society of know-nothings". If the truth it portrays - mostly 
substantiated by quoting study after survey after anecdotal evidence - 
holds up, then at least the average under-30 American has indeed less of 
the more traditional literacy and common knowledge as compared to the 
over 30-year-old's. There abilities have been replaced with a form of 
e-literacy and e-behaviors, which do not seem to be an equal substitute 
to what is lost.

I see no reason to disagree with this assessment. The fallacy of 
technology-cheerleaders seems to be a belief, that IT and the Internet 
have a built-in benefit to lower the bar needed to attain knowledge. We 
think Wikipedia makes us smarter and helps kids with learning, when in 
fact it actually raises the bar. While anyone would agree that access to 
content is not equals understanding of content, with access to digital 
content, learners have to manage larger and larger volumes of 
information (most of it autogenerated or trivial junk), spend time with 
more complex messages (AFAIK WYSIAYG), shift from one technology to the 
next, and other "complications", And all this is happening on systems 
and platforms which are consistently getting sucked into the muck of 
commercialization and entertainment over time (iMac, iBook, iPod, 
iPhone, iPad = delivery platform for iAds).

I wish us all luck with the research. We are at best at the beginning of 
understanding how to constructively handle the shift caused by the 
replacement of "the book" (tm) with commercialized networks, immense 
data silos, infantilization of discourse and an avalanche of simplistic 
"smart" devices. It probably has to be lived to be understood.


On 4/9/10 12:57 PM, elana langer wrote:
> Television, a medium that was once declared the most powerful
> contribution to the learning environment, provided a perfect analogy
> for the tension in
> the current educational paradigm. From the medium’s inception
> Educational Television (ETV) faced the insurmountable
> challenge of trying to compete within the economic structures of
> commercial television. Even when a show like Sesame Street was able to
> achieve commercial
> success, the medium itself fell prey to the critique of theorists like
> Postman and Winn, claiming that television had a limited learning
> potential. In fact the enthusiasm for computers today is
> indistinguishable from the pamphlets encouraging the use of television
> from the 1950’s. Yet as technologies like computers continue to gain
> support within the educational arena, the context for learning often
> remains the same.
> Critics of technologies that range from radio to computers focus on
> analyzing the educational potential and uses of emerging technologies
> and not enough time focusing on the educational processes into which
> these technologies are embedded. As a result, the media produced be it
> filmstrip or CD-ROM reflect the limits of the educational philosophies
> rather than the limitations of the technology itself.
> Julian Daily and Michael F C Moreland are both using opportunities
> afforded through new technologies to expand the learning process and
> create collaborative learning environments - But can the system expand
> and accommodate their efforts? Julian, through his company g8four is
> creating new models of constructivist learning environments enabled
> through personal computing. His team have worked both in and outside
> the classroom has experience both in and outside of the classroom
> innovating uses for the XO laptop.
> Michael F C Moreland created seedr l3c, a company designing tools and
> strategies for global development that make communities around the
> world safer and more prosperous. He uses technology and a
> collaborative design methodology that includes end users and
> stakeholders from different disciplines and sectors to make the
> solutions more informed and relevant.
> What systems of bureaucracy need to be in place to make each company
> and effort possible? Do those systems hinder the growth of the model
> being proposed? Have we totally outgrown our system? If so- what's
> next?
> Could an acceptance and subsequent reexamination of our inherent
> assumptions about learning transform the way in which we use our
> technology? Are we leveraging the 'trojan horse' opportunity of a new
> technology to introduce foundational learning approaches and
> techniques successfully? What resistances do practitioners creating
> businesses around new types of learning experience, and where does
> that tension come from? Is there a way to systematically change the
> very system (and institutions) of learning we try to cram our
> technology- or is there a way we can outgrow our system healthily?
> Elana
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