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The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning) Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cathy N. Davidson is the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Ruth F. Devarney Professor of English at Duke University.

David Theo Goldberg is Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute and the University of California, Irvine.

Product Details

  • File Size: 753 KB
  • Print Length: 88 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (June 5, 2009)
  • Publication Date: June 5, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030DGXY6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,977 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Cathy Davidson teaches at Duke and writes for the Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Inside Higher Ed, and has been featured in Fast Company, the New York Times, and on blogs and in tweets the world over! She is the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University and has published over twenty books on technology, education, and the history of reading,writing, and printing. She is currently on a 50-stop international author tour for Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking Press), which Publishers Weekly has named "one of the top ten science books" of the Fall 2011 season. With the team at a nonprofit she cofounded called HASTAC ("haystack"), she administers the annual $2 million MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions. You can find out more at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 12, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Davidson and Goldberg state that changes in communications technology in recent decades demand concommitant changes in how schools, especially colleges and universities, educate our young. I agree. But our authors take that premise and run with it in some directions which I don't believe are supported by the evidence.

Our authors insist that conventional education, with its hierarchical social groupings and insistence on individual work, will prove completely unsustainable in coming years. I wonder if they have read their history seriously enough. Their warnings repeat, nearly verbatim, statements made when moveable type, film, and television challenged former paradigms of learning. A time traveler from 1975 might be astounded to see that videotape hasn't rendered teachers obsolete.

They go on to extol "virtual" educational models which take place without "the contiguity of time and place." Which sounds good, but my own experiments with structural flexibility teach me that, if I don't require my students to be in a room at a certain time, more than half of them will never do the reading or write their assignments more than a day in advance. I doubt even Goldberg and Davidson believe that classes without classrooms will ever be more than icing on the cake for advanced students. They concede early on that "most virtual institutions are, in fact, supported by a host of real institutions and real individuals."

Though some students love learning enough to be self-motivated, they are not the majority. Many, if not most, regard classes, even within their majors, as a nuisance.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on January 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The "Digital Age" that we live in has been the subject of many (too many?) books, articles, essays and blogs in recent times. Everyone who has not lived in a cave in the last few years realizes that the pace of technological advancement is increasing, and many of the traditional forms of communicating, working and shopping are continuously being redefined. Despite all of this, the role and the form of higher education have hardly changed, aside from PowerPoint presentations replacing most writing-on-a-blackboard styled ones. On the other hand, it is unclear whether any of these new technologies do in fact aid the learning process. As someone who has implemented many of these trends in college classes that I had taught, I have to admit that the jury is still out on the actual impact that the new digital technologies can have on students.

This short book raises many interesting points and it provides references to several novel learning and publishing tools that I will be happy to try out. The book itself was written using some of those tools in a very collaborative process. It provides a prescription for implementing many of these tools and techniques in academia. However, it is not clear to me what exactly would the implementation of those tools and teaching techniques accomplish. In fact, there is very little hard analysis in this book that one can find in most social-science publications. Overall, this book provides more starting points for further consideration than actionable ideas for further development of higher education. It is a worthwhile read if one doesn't expect too much.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on June 28, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This kindle "book" is sort of a preview of a much larger work the authors are currently writing. In reality, this should be read like a very long magazine article exploring how the digital age may affect and is affecting higher education in particular and to a lesser extent elementary and secondary education.

The "book" begins and ends, to its disadvantage, with a lot of jargon-filled commentary such as: "We contend that the future of learning institutions demands a deep, epistmogological appreciation of the profundity of what the Internet offers humanity as a model of a learning institution." (loc 50) Yes, yes, yes. This is college writing at its classic wordiness.

Fortunately, once we get into the heart of the paper it gets quite interesting and more reader friendly. There are some big, important questions being asked here, such as, "Why go to college to get information when it can be found in 3 seconds on the internet?" and "Is the purpose of college really to learn skills under the tutelage of acknowledged experts?" (If that is so, why was my smallest class at Indiana University 8 people and the average was around 40?)

The authors seem to be leaning away from the traditional expert model of the university and embracing the collaborative model of the Internet. They use the model of Wikipedia, which is the poster child for what is right and wrong about the internet. Anyone can edit it, which means anyone with knowledge can add to it, but vandals can also damage the site or ignorant people can include their "facts" as well. One of my high school students added his own name to the site for the band Korn as a "spoon player". It stayed up there for months.

But, this model has strengths as well. As a group, we certainly know more than we do individually.
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