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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]

Cathy N. Davidson , David Theo Goldberg , Zoë Marie Jones
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this report, Cathy Davidson and David Theo Goldberg focus on the
potential for shared and interactive learning made possible by the Internet. They
argue that the single most important characteristic of the Internet is its capacity
for world-wide community and the limitless exchange of ideas. The Internet brings
about a way of learning that is not new or revolutionary but is now the norm for
today's graduating high school and college classes. It is for this reason that
Davidson and Goldberg call on us to examine potential new models of digital learning
and rethink our virtually enabled and enhanced learning institutions.
Reports on Digital Media and Learning

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)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030DGXY6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,353 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Supported By Scrutiny 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
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
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Read if you are a Policy Maker.
A very nice snapshot of emerging trends in education, none of which are comprehended by the current Federal administrators or law makers.
Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Ok to read...
Published 6 months ago by Pedro Cardosp
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing New
A rehash of old ideas. Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner provided much the same in "Teaching as a Subversive Activity" in 1969. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative
This gave me some really good ideas of how to further structure a class I'm about to teach. I think it's really going to help me take it to the next level.
Published 10 months ago by Mack Skelton
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing that hasn't been already said.
Really not that good of an ebook, but what did you expect for free on kindle?, I thought it would have more substance.
Published on March 12, 2013 by Maria P Cordoba
4.0 out of 5 stars Good material, not comprehensive enough.
Good ideas. I would recommend the primary book that this extends: The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (The John D. and Catherine T. Read more
Published on February 3, 2013 by Andrew Ribeiro
5.0 out of 5 stars We need this thinking!
Good solid research and thinking, well presented! Yes! Thank you. As IT Director at a University this type of literature is just what I need to keep me thinking about the... Read more
Published on January 5, 2013 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars A view of changes
It was an interesting review of what is going on in learning institutions as they become digital. However, it offered very little insight into how to change and grow the... Read more
Published on March 13, 2012 by Rpianoman
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected more substance
There were parts I enjoyed.

I enjoyed the Ichabod Crane reference, it is funny because it is true. Read more
Published on March 18, 2011 by Cheryl A. Bowman
3.0 out of 5 stars Raises Important Questions But Answers Them in a One-Sided Way
"The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age" is a free Kindle redaction of a larger book to come: "The Future of Thinking: Learning in a Digital Age. Read more
Published on August 21, 2010 by Fr. Charles Erlandson
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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

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