Essays on Technology and Pedagogy


Trebor Scholz

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The simple yet far-reaching ambition of this collection is to discover how to use digital media for learning on campus and off. It offers a rich selection of methodologies, social practices, and hands-on assignments by leading educators who acknowledge the opportunities created by the confluence of mobile technologies, the World Wide Web, film, video games, TV, comics, and software while also calling attention to recurring challenges.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 4 In their work, academics build on the research of their peers but when it comes to pedagogy, this is not always so. Many educators continue to resist the use of digital media in the classroom[1] and still subscribe to what the Brazilian theorist and educator Paolo Freire called the banking model of education, which is based on teacher isolationism, top-down modes of learning, and extensive memorization. Contemporary learners are at odds with this approach and the consequences are pernicious.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 This selection of essays explores how we learn through digital media; the authors ask how tools and services that are part of the contemporary media landscape can be used to create situations in which all learners actively engage each other and the teacher to become more proficient and productive, to think in more complex ways, gain better judgment, become more principled and curious, and lead distinctive and productive lives.  These days, learning is at least as much about access to other people as it is about access to information and such participatory learning is not primarily about “career readiness” or vocational training but it assists learners to reflect on issues like social justice, love, politics, history, ethics and their own personal fulfillment.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 5 The media pedagogies highlighted in this publication do not service the profit-seeking model of education that mistakes training for education and short changes learners by delivering measurable customer service and convenience through cost-effective iPad delivery. Institutions and individual learners do not have to cobble together the fees for pricey learning management systems, the newest gadgets, or access to online platforms. We made an effort to emphasize free and open-source tools whenever possible but some examples covered in this publication are commercial and proprietary.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Changing Role Models

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Where, when, how, and even what we are learning is changing. Teachers need to consider how to engage learners with content by connecting to their current interests as well as their technological habits and dependencies. Learning with digital media isn’t solely about using this or that software package or cloud computing in the classroom; by altering the roles of the teacher and the student it substantially changes teaching itself. Learning with digital media isn’t about giving our well-worn teaching practices a hip appearance; it is, more fundamentally, about exploring radically new approaches to instruction. The future of learning will not be determined by tools but by the re-organization of power relationships and institutional protocols. However, digital media can play a positive role in this process of transformation.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 2 For professor Brad Mehlenbacher, digital learning undergirds constructivist visions of radical change in how teachers approach learners (237), challenging traditional power relationships and emphasizing student-centered learning. We can try to imagine how two passionate teachers– the cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead or the artist and Bauhaus professor Paul Klee would use digital media to take their students on intellectual adventures. Today, such innovative approaches to learning also matter to game designer and educator Katie Salen who, in ReImagining Learning in the 21st Century, described good contemporary teachers as learning experts, mentors, motivators, technology integrators, and diagnosticians.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Angry Birds, YouTube, and the Importance of Deutero Learning

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 2 In Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972), the American anthropologist Gregory Bateson formulates his concept of Deutero-Learning, meaning “learning to learn,” the extraction of implicit rules in learning (159–176). While learning is an activity that is taking place all around the clock and in many different environments, it doesn’t automatically come about when the iPad, the Angry Birds Game,[2] FormSpring,[3] or Twitter are introduced. Learning must not be simply about consumer choices.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Today, learning to learn through digital media means that it simply isn’t enough to have access to Wikipedia or YouTube or syllabi by MIT faculty and others; the urgent question becomes how we meaningfully and effectively learn with these tools, repositories, platforms and all open educational materials. How do we ignite student engagement, political and creative imagination, intellectual quest, and the desire for lifelong learning?

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Attitudes for the 21st Century: Beyond Remixed Promises and Cycles of Obsolescence

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 From the telegraph to the radio and television, it can be observed that exaggerated promises and unyielding skepticism are at the core of the historical cycles that accompany the adaptation of technology to education. The most burning problem for digital learning is technological obsolescence and the attendant need to learn and readapt to new technological milieus and cycles of obsolescence. Openness, flexibility, playfulness, persistence, and the ability to work well with others on-the-spot, are at the heart of an attitude that allows learners to cope with the unrelenting velocity of technological change in the 21st century. Digital media fluency also requires an understanding of the moment when technological interfaces hinder learning and become distracting. Learners who are digitally fluent know how to block social online services and power down their cell phone. Open access to the Internet and web-based tools is not enough.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 What’s available? Choreographing Learning Opportunities

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Tools will never outshine a brilliant teacher but over the past fifteen years many tools, services, and platforms have become easier to adapt for learning purposes, to help command and hold the attention of learners for whom email is no more than an easy way to talk to “the man.” This includes a repertoire of social networking services like BuddyPress,[4] Diaspora,[5] Crabgrass[6], or Facebook, electronics prototyping platforms like Arduino,[7] media sharing sites like Vimeo[8] or YouTube, social bookmarking services like Diigo[9] and Delicious,[10] research tools like Zotero,[11] Citeulike[12], or Mendeley,[13] as well as micro-blogging services like Identi.ca or Tumblr,[14] and platforms like 4Chan[15] and Omeka.[16] Equally part of the contemporary media mosaic are streaming services like Ustream[17], and organizational helpers like Doodle,[18] TextExpander,[19] Anti-Social,[20] or Google Moderator.[21] We cannot ignore that these are some of the media environments that play a leading role for young middle-class learners in rich countries. They are like steps and moves that teachers can learn to choreograph. There is no question that some of the tools that we explored here will be obsolete in a few years. The methodologies, however, the attitudes and the social practices of experimentation will remain valuable. It also goes without saying that this collection cannot offer a complete palette of tools; it is a considered selection.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 In the face of quickly proliferating techno-educational services, many teachers don’t quite feel with-the-times technologically. What’s more true, however, is that today we are all laggards. Some teachers wonder if they can simply hunker down and learn a handful of instructional software applications on a rainy weekend and then be done for the next five years. Regrettably, that won’t work because technological skills have never had shorter shelf lives. Today, learning to learn with digital media is about conducting continual small experiments. MIT professor and director of the Lifelong Kindergarten project, Mitchel Resnick, argued that “the point isn’t to provide a few classes to teach a few skills; the goal is for participants to learn to express themselves fluently with new technology” (Herr-Stephenson et al, 25).  Empowering today’s learners, and undergraduates in particular, should not be about “just-in-time-knowledge”[22] and hyper-specialized competencies but about the ability to learn.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 No doubt, digital media place both teachers and students outside of their comfort zone. While, numerous contributors to this publication argued that they experienced this discomfort as productive, many felt that preparatory time, the ability to integrate and learn a new platform, and the sheer number of choices was overwhelming. Other instructors feel discouraged by bad experiences.  We found that when teachers inflict the tools-du-jour on near-at-hand students, these experiments sometimes fail because there wasn’t enough consideration for pedagogy.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Learning Everywhere

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Digital learning not only takes place online or in the university classroom but is also situated in the high school classroom, the after school program, the home schooler’s living room, the library, the “do-it-yourself University,”[23] and the museum. Learners do not exclusively learn in the university where “master-teachers” impart their insights under the tree of knowledge. In 1971, the Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich even claimed that “we have all learned most of what we know outside school” (Illich, 20) and in 2010 American literacy scholar and professor Jim Gee argued that “Americans and residents of any developing country need to think of education as not just schools by the system of 24-7 learning.” Along the same lines, in her study “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out,” the American scholar Mizuko Ito emphasized that learning is taking place in informal learning networks through “friendship–driven and interest–based participation” and that such networks stretch beyond institutional boundaries. Like Dewey, Illich, Gee, and Ito, we think that learning situations are located both inside and outside of institutions.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Radical Digital Pedagogy

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 In 1915, one of the founders of the New School, John Dewey, emphasized that education does not only take place in schools and that it ought to prepare learners for democratic citizenship. Institutional learning shouldn’t foster individualism but rather emphasize community development, which is the base for the improvement of society. Informal social networks are crucial in that process, connecting students with their peers and with teachers. For Freire, pedagogy was deeply connected to social change; it “was a project and provocation that challenged students to critically engage with the world so they could act on it” (Giroux). Digital media can help learners to become more active participants in public life; they can also facilitate subversive, radical pedagogy and civic engagement. This also means we need to stop ignoring the ways in which we teach behind closed doors and radically focus on media pedagogy as an urgent topic on which we should work together.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Works Cited

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Bateson, George. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 Dewey, John. The School and Society & the Child and the Curriculum. Mineola, NY: Dover. [1915] 2001.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Giroux, Henry. A.  “Lessons to Be Learned From Paulo Freire as Education Is Being Taken Over by the Mega Rich “ t r u t h o u t. 23 November, 2010. Web. accessed November 27, 2010.<http://www.truth-out.org/lessons-be-learned-from-paulo-freire-education-is-being-taken-over-mega-rich65363>.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Herr-Stephenson, Becky. et al. Digital Media and Technology in Afterschool Programs, Libraries, and Museums. Chicago: The MacArthur Foundation, 2010.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Illich, Ivan. Deschooling Society, London: Marion Boyars Publishers. 1971.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Ito, Mizuko, Sonja Baumer, and Matteo Bittanti. danah boyd, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr-Stephenson, et al. Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press. 2009.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Ito, Mizuko, et al. “Kids’ Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures.” November 2008. Web. accessed November 24, 2010. <http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/report>.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 James, Carrie. et. al. Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: A Synthesis from the GoodPlay Project. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2009.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Jenkins, Henry. et al. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Chicago: The MacArthur Foundation, 2007.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation. ReImagining Learning in the 21st Century. Chicago: The MacArthur Foundation. 2010.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Mehlenbacher, Brad.  Instruction and Technology. Cambridge: MIT. 2010.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 Willinsky, John. The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship. Cambridge: MIT Press. 2006.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 Iiyoshi, Toru. Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge. Cambridge: MIT Press. 2009.

  • [1] A recent report noted that the vast majority of academics in the US continue to resist adopting technology in the classroom. Jeffrey R. Young, ‘Reaching the Last Technology Holdouts at the Front of the Classroom’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 24 July, 2010. Web. Accessed 10 November, 2010. <http://chronicle.com/article/Reaching-the-Last-Technology/123659/>.
  • [2] http://www.rovio.com/index.php?page=angry-birds
  • [3] http://www.formspring.me/
  • [4] http://buddypress.org/
  • [5] https://joindiaspora.com/
  • [6] http://crabgrass.riseuplabs.org/
  • [7] http://www.arduino.cc/
  • [8] http://vimeo.com/
  • [9] http://www.diigo.com
  • [10] http://www.delicious.com/
  • [11] http://www.zotero.org/
  • [12] http://www.citeulike.org/
  • [13] http://www.mendeley.com/
  • [14] http://www.tumblr.com
  • [15] http://www.4chan.org/
  • [16] http://omeka.org/
  • [17] http://www.ustream.tv/
  • [18] http://www.doodle.com/
  • [19] http://smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/
  • [20] http://anti-social.cc/
  • [21] https://www.google.com/moderator/
  • [22] By just-in-time knowledge, we are referring to Nintendo’s university in Washington State that delivers students with “just-in-time-knowledge” while outright ignoring the humanities. All what is needed from the student/prospective worker is a particular set of skills necessary for an upcoming project.
  • [23] Examples of DIY universities include the Public School and the School of Everything.
  • Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/artoflearning/learning-through-digital-media/