A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change 1st Edition
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About the Author
Doug is also the author of the book Hacker Culture and a coauthor or coeditor of several other books, including Technological Visions: The Hopes and Fears that Shape New Technologies and Cybercrime: Law Enforcement, Security and Surveillance in the Information Age. He is the founding editor of Games and Culture: A Journal of Interactive Media, an international, interdisciplinary journal focused on games research.
John Seely Brown is a visiting scholar and an adviser to the provost at the University of Southern California and an independent cochairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge. He is an author or a coauthor of several books, including The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion; The Only Sustainable Edge; and The Social Life of Information, which has been translated into nine languages. He has also authored or coauthored more than 100 papers in scientific journals.
Prior to his current position, John was the chief scientist of Xerox and, for nearly two decades, the director of the company's Palo Alto Research Center. He was also a cofounder of the Institute for Research on Learning. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education.
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We want to instill a passion for learning, but we typically address our desire by first thinking about designs - of syllabi, curricula, distribution requirements and more. Thomas and Brown invite us to change our starting point by asking how people learn today in a world with unprecedented access to information.
The authors invite us to recall that disturbing memory - even when America was poised to invade Iraq, most US citizens could not find Iraq on the map. But some, Thomas and Brown suggest, would simply draw on their internet facility to find the answer. While we should expect more of a citizenry in what they know, we should also think anew about how people learn.
Yes, people learn in classrooms, but the authors encourage us to think about how people develop their knowledge beyond the classroom. Colleges are great not just for what the professors offer, but what the students do with their assignments off hours. To be immersed in a world of learning, as Thomas and Brown say, is the real inspiration I recall from my college days at Davidson, and what I now see among my students at Brown. But thirty years make a difference.
My college learning depended on terrific anchors - an honor code that assured integrity, a set of distribution requirements that inspired breadth, and a college culture that could move my passion from golf to sociology. Today's culture of learning, the authors propose, flows more, relying less on preexisting stocks of knowledge or fixed cultures of intellectual authority and more on a passion for learning that itself is a form of play.
My students and I discussed this book in our class on knowledge networks and global transformations yesterday. These digital natives debated it - how American are the assumptions? How much can we trust that this new culture of learning moves toward truthfulness rather than truthiness? Are there ways to move digitally produced collectives toward more ethical behavior, and away from destructive practice? It was a great discussion, evidenced by how it continued well beyond the classroom.
As I listened, I wondered whether in fact I was observing just what Thomas and Brown were describing - this different culture of learning in action, and whether, in that assembly, I was seeing in formation that next incarnation of the thing which made Brown University famous more than three decades ago: its new curriculum.
Universities and colleges are embracing, at different paces, the revolutions in information and communication technology, from digitalizing libraries to blended online and onsite learning. But after this volume and its classroom discussion, I would like to understand better the effect and potential of this new culture of learning in higher education. And it begins with these questions:
Do Thomas and Brown capture this new culture well? It strikes most of my students to be on target, but it does call out for more research.
How does this new culture of learning combine with traditions in liberal arts? There are complements to be sure, but there are some real tensions that need to be faced.
Even as the information revolution promises to globalize knowledge, it proceeds with the accents of its vanguard. Are there ways that the global conversation might find and elevate the diversity that the authors themselves acknowledge to be the fount of creativity?
"Where imaginations play, learning happens". That's the message, that's the invitation, and that's the hope. And next time we figure out how to assess our institutions of higher education, let's identify the spaces for imagination in our local worlds of learning.
This volume is highly recommended to anyone curious about the impact of technology on our children and our culture.
Top international reviews
There was a time when the only ways to gain knowledge were limited and often convoluted. Knowledge was parcelled up by experts and delivered in a format that was suited to their way of thinking.
The limitless access to information that we now enjoy has democratised the learning process by making pretty much any information available to pretty much anyone.
This means that teaching and learning has new roles. The content provider is obligated to make their content as engaging and relevant as possible. The teacher has to be an enabler, helping learners to discover, interpret and use the content that is available to them and to judge its integrity. And finally, the learner takes on a much more accountable role in the process; they must assume responsibility for setting out and pursuing a learning journey, seeking input, coaching and mentoring to overcome the difficulties they encounter.
We are seeing this transformation happening all around us, every day. Just watch what happens when someone posts a problem they are tackling on Face book or Linked in - friends and colleagues pile in to help out, recommending sources of help and the like. Thomas and Brown, describe this phenomenon as 'Arc of Life Learning', and they see this as a healthy and life long pursuit.
This all requires a new way of thinking about the process of learning, but I find the new 'spin' almost entirely positive.
HIghly recommended book that is an easy read.
the collaborative live study groups can foster more inter personal participation and development
Gaming can become addictive and what is learned may not be as predicted. The internet as research tool or a information source or assignment that can be kept current is already established. The authors filed to convince me that their thesis is that profound but did get me thinking and maybe that in itself has merit.