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

3.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262513593
ISBN-10: 0262513595
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  • Length: 88 pages
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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 the Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the University of California system-wide research facility for the human sciences and theoretical research in the arts. He also holds faculty appointments as Professor of Comparative Literature and of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine, where he is a Fellow of the UCI Critical Theory Institute


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 LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030DGXY6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,295 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"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." It proceeded from the MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning, based on a collaborative work on this subject. The thesis of this Kindle book is that "the single most important characteristic of the Internet is its capacity to allow for a worldwide community and its endlessly myriad subsets to exchange ideas, to learn from one another in a way not previously available."

As a teacher and priest, and one interested in how the new technologies are changing us, I found the book fascinating and that it raised many important issues. In short, I find that the book makes the reader aware of how the world is changing, especially the world of education, and makes the reader think about the relationship between technology, especially the Internet, and education. However, it makes promises based on misunderstandings of human nature and behavior without acknowledging the limitations and failings of Internet technology and the ways we use it.

The first chapter is titled "The Classroom or the World Wide Web? Imaging the Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age." It argues that institutions of learning have changed far more slowly than the modes of learning offered by the Internet. Furthermore, rival institutions of learning such as the Internet challenge traditional institutions such as the hierarchy of teacher and student, credentialing, and restriction of admission. While these ideas are provocative, I find that there is a one-sided presentation that only looks at the possible positive outcomes of Internet learning and overstates its case.
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