Blogs I follow: One branch of my Pearltrees is dedicated to blogs, click here to view.
Books I’m Reading
The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man by H. Marshall McLuhan
I’m enjoying this book a great deal so far. A challenging read, but worth it. Written by a Canadian scholar and published by the University of Toronto Press.
Book Description: “Since its first appearance in 1962, the impact of The Gutenberg Galaxy has been felt around the world. It gave us the concept of the global village; that phrase has now been translated, along with the rest of the book, into twelve languages, from Japanese to Serbo-Croat. It helped establish Marshall McLuhan as the original ‘media guru.’ More than 200,000 copies are in print. The reissue of this landmark book reflects the continuing importance of McLuhan’s work for contemporary readers.“
Over four decades, educators have been bewitched by the possibilities of making digital technologies do things that might support and enhance learning experiences, from Ping Pong to iPads. They have also, however, been bothered by the seemingly slow take-up of these possibilities in mainstream education; by the lack of congruence between formal curriculum and assessment requirements and learning experiences with digital technologies; and the socioeconomic and political challenges of digital inclusion and sustainability in local and global arenas. There is increased concern about the new media environment and contexts for commerce, consumption, sexualisation and risk.
Books I’ve Read Recently
Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will by Dale J. Stephens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“For those who have absolutely no idea of their interests, a four-year institution is a waste of money and time.” Dale J. Stephens
This quote is from the twenty-one year old college dropout and author on the book. He is also founder of the website and movement, UnCollege. Stephens insists he is not advocating that young people don’t go to college, but is suggesting students only go to college if they know what they want to study and why. Seems reasonable enough. Yet Stephens argument and advice for hacking your education lacks credibility. Yes he is a college dropout and hacked his education, but he is also a Thiel Fellow, a recipient of a $100,000 award through a program for college dropouts. The $100,000 award allowed Stephens to explore what he wanted to do, hack is education as part of a two-year program to “skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education” [thielfellowship.org]. Though after reading more on the Thiel website, it appears that entrepreneurship is the focus. And Stephens did take the entrepreneurship route by founding UnCollege and writing his book.
The Message in Hacking Your Education
However, there is message within the book and website that is worth examining, both for higher education institutions and parents. The main message when delving further and reading between the lines, is how differently these kids think—how education [even employment] methods, norms and traditions don’t align with their values and desires. You can read the entire post here.
One may wonder how valuable such a read would be given the book was written in 2008, yet reading the book with five years of Internet advancements under our belt, was strangely thought-provoking. More so when considering the influence and power that groups can, and have wielded in the realm of online education, specifically in courses attracting massive numbers. Here I’ll share the potential that groups hold for learning within online courses, the three principles needed for successful groups, and how student groups are subtly influencing the paradigm shift in education.
Selection of My Favorites
Below are books which I highly recommend to educators or anyone interested in higher education, online learning and/or the future of education. You can read all of my book reviews at Goodreads.
The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Academic Practice by Martin Weller. My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Every aspect of scholarly practice is seeing changes effected by the adoption and implementation of new technologies (Weller, 2011). It is the effects that Weller speaks of that are challenging traditions and creating rifts within the academic world. “The Digital Scholar” explores how technology is transforming higher education and not only describes the possibilities for new forms of scholarly practice, but suggests how educators can become part of that possibility.
Weller addresses every aspect within academia [including publishing and research], how each is changing, and incorporates suggestions of how-to adapt to each. Educators will be better prepared to handle change, and even use it to their advantage when they are familiar with how a given technology is influencing an established practice within academia.
I highly recommend this resource for educators working within Higher Education. At least one chapter, if not more, would be relevant to educators, whether technology devices are used or not. The author writes from the perspective not of the user of technology, but from the academic practice’s point-of-view, and how it is affected by technology. A subtle but effective approach that sheds light objectively on the changes within each scholarly area. I am optimistic that each reader will find something of interest and value. Read my full review here at http://wp.me/p1N30w-1kg
A wake-up call is the best way to describe the book I just finished, Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities by Richard Demillo professor at Georgia Tech and Director of its Center for 21st Century Universities. It’s a must-read for any stakeholder involved with higher education institutions or for those with a keen interest in the direction that higher education is going. The book should come with a warning though, it may cause elevated blood pressure, anxiety or even feelings of distress for anyone working for, or with a middle-tier college. Middle-tier universities, as defined by Demillo are schools that make up the majority of higher education institutions in the United States, not the elites with large endowment funds, or the proprietary for profits, but all the rest. Read my full review here.
I am a big fan of Khan Academy. I turned my youngest two teenagers onto Khan’s videos when they were struggling with their Calculus homework, which they shared with their friends, then their classmates and finally their teachers. That is when I knew Khan Academy was going to be big—when an online platform that I thought was useful and ‘cool’, was good enough to be endorsed by my kids.
Which is why I read the book The One World School House: Education Reimagined written by the founder himself, Sal Khan. Khan shares how Khan Academy came to be by tutoring his niece, and how he eventually quit his job as hedge fund analyst to launch Khan Academy and filmed hundreds of videos in his closet. What comes through the pages is the passion Khan has for education, his drive to transform, and provide “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere” (Khan, p 4). In this post I’ll provide a brief overview of the book, but I focus on Khan’s vision for classrooms of the future, for an education system that is almost a utopian one, featuring the ‘ideal’ where students learn and grow at their own pace, at no cost, anywhere in the world.
Khan’s vision of higher education is grounded not in grades and transcripts, but in work experience, hands-on experience with lengthy internships of five or six months where students work in meaningful positions where skills are learned and applied alongside experts in the field. These are not summer, make-work projects, but paid positions. Between internships, students don’t attend lectures but study, learn, and collaborate, yet take rigorous assessments to show that they can go deep in certain academic areas (p 152).
My full review can be found on my blog at http://wp.me/p1N30w-1CB