It occurred to me that I had initially agreed to provide a provocation to Manovich’s last week, and I do apologize for not constructing a post in response to the readings and visualizations that were assigned. While it doesn’t seem fair to detract from the current week’s readings, I would like to pose a very simple question. If one assumes that common knowledge is reproducible, yet creativity and other forms of nontangible and cultural knowledge are unique sources of information, does the sum of all nontangible knowledge ever approach a mass store of common knowledge? In an era when we can quantify cultural knowledge through advanced data science, are we harming the generativity of knowledge? or are we simply pushing the boundaries of knowledge and creativity by reproducing and re-representing information in unique forms?
Final Paper, ITP Core One
Examine at least one specific technological practice, piece of software, program, or course website in your discipline that uses digital technology to help teach and/or do research and publication. In what specific ways is this tool(s), practice, program or website effective? In what ways is it (or are they) ineffective? How might it/they be strengthened, expanded, or built upon? How might those uses of academic technology be improved and/or reconceptualized? You are encouraged to expand the analysis you began in your midterm paper to build this work, using the specific examples you choose to explicate themes you worked with in the midterm.
In your examination, you must make reference to the conceptual and pedagogical models and approaches described in at least three of our readings this semester (e.g., Dewey, Bass, How People Learn, Visible Knowledge Project, McGann, Stein, Gee, Benkler, Bogost, Keramidas, etc.). You might supplement your analysis with references to the growing body of scholarship of teaching and learning and the digital humanities in order to assess the ways in which your field might benefit from new, imaginative uses of technology in research and/or inside and outside of the classroom. You might consider technological practices like peer production and other forms of intellectual and social organization, as well as the ways in which some forms of technology-enhanced scholarship can lend themselves to adaptation as pedagogical or research tools.*
You must also couch your analysis in a broader discussion of the state of technology usage in your academic field. How does the subject of your examination compare to broader trends of technology use in the field? Which scholars and teachers in your field are pushing the edge of the envelope in their use of academic technology to teach and/or do research, and what makes their work with technology cutting edge? Also, what insights might be drawn from the uses of technology in other disciplines to help reshape the use of technology in your field?
* Online and print journals that you might consider consulting include, but are not limited to: Computers and Composition, Computers and Education, Educause Quarterly, The Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, The Journal of Scholarship on Teaching and Learning, Kairos, Pedagogy, and Radical Teacher, as well as numerous academic blogs and educational websites. The latter tend to be more current and useful than the formal journals (even the online ones), so feel free to mix and match what you use to help bolster your analysis.
Due December 21 via email. Final papers should be approximately 15-20 pages, but you are not limited to “the paper” as a medium; please talk to Michael and Lisa if you plan to pursue a different format. Co-authored submissions are allowed with permission. Requests for alternate topics, formats, and co-authoring should be made no later than Dec 7.
The imaginary/conceptual “game of perfect information” holds that, with the right setup computers can satisfy all our informational needs. When the language of this game enters into the conversation about technology and education, the conversation goes awry. According to Bass, when attempting to discern the impact of technology on learning we must consider: (a) how teaching/learning is a complex process that occurs and builds knowledge over time and (b) how learning contexts must be analyzed ecologically with the understanding that learning does not happen in one place, one way, via one device or method.
Before considering technology, instructors may need to take a step back and ask basic questions about their own teaching. From these considerations, we can ask: “what aspects of good teaching, and contexts of good learning, do particular technologies serve well?” Rather than engaging with technology as an add-on to our pedagogy, technology can act as a medium for our own pedagogical goals and aspirations. According to Bass, as scholars, our questions drive our desire to learn and this also holds true for students who often engage and learn the most when they are driven by questions that interest them. Questioning our motivations to learn and our pedagogy allows us to better assess the role that technology can play in facilitating and energizing our students’ engines of inquiry.
According to Bass, technology can help facilitate 6 aspects of quality learning: distributive learning, authentic tasks, dialogic learning, public accountability, and reflective and critical thinking. With increased access to information, responsibility for knowledge creation can be distributed. Students are able to deeply engage with rich, diverse, and expansive resources via tech platforms and digital mediums. Technologies can open up lines of communication, leveling discussion and participation, making it less high stakes and more democratic. Digital spaces allow for small group interaction, collaborative writing, and active reading where students can go at their own pace and draw their own connections (which they could later share with others in the space). Often some or all of these spaces are public; students can be held accountable and often take their work more seriously. And often, if instructors desire that their students begin to think reflectively and critically, they must begin by reflecting and considering their own teaching structures and habits.
Integrating technology into a course may reshape overall course structure, requiring a reconsideration of location, course architecture, and assessment possibilities. Courses have always had multiple learning spaces; in the past these have typically been defined as the classroom and elsewhere. Thoughtfully integrating technology into pedagogy requires a re-imagining and deeper conceptualization of ‘elsewhere’. Technologies can allow instructors to choose and define these new engagement spaces and promote quality learning in these spaces. Technology can coherently and easily connect these spaces and foster deeper engagement and communication. Connecting these spaces may provide students with a better understanding of how different aspect of the course come together and technologies can help connect concepts, integrate new viewpoints and resources, and allow students to develop their own constructive projects connected to the course.
Reimagining the course structure rests on the assumption that the “course” should be an independent unit with specific goals. But if reimagining the structure and practice of courses, why stop there? Course, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries often divide people, ideas, and applicable skills. When re-thinking pedagogy and how technology can support our teaching, it might be fruitful to use the intersection between tech and pedagogy to rethink how higher education functions to produce a well-rounded, proficient graduate.
Which begs the question, in 2015, how do we define the well-rounded, proficient graduate? A person who can get a job? A person who has transferable skills? A digitally literate person? Someone who has found a passion? Fights for a cause? Our answers to these questions are both ideological and pedagogical. If our main goal in teaching is to help our students get a job, do we only reinforce the capitalistic structures that often oppress and dominate the very students we teach? Can certain pedagogies allow us to prepare our students for the workforce while also providing them with the vision and tools to resist oppressive and dominant forces?
Reading Bass, at some points I wondered if his view of technology was too utopian. For example, yes, technology can help level communication and open up dialogue. But, I have also encountered students who resist any type of online discussion or engagement. And, yes, public accountability can be beneficial but it also can put students at risk if they hold radical views or feel pressured to conform to the status quo. However, in the end, I think this is where Bass’s question regarding how technologies can serve good teaching becomes most salient. How do we choose the technologies that best support our pedagogy? What questions can we ask ourselves to be sure that the technology works with our pedagogical needs and goals? And, if attempting to break down arbitrary disciplinary and institutional boundaries, what types of knowledge and skills would we our students to develop in order to have coherent experiences across various courses?
Write a five to ten page paper on ONE of the topics listed below.
1. We began this semester by reading Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and watching Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Write a critical comparison of the book and the film, making certain to incorporate insights and analysis about notions of cyborgs, embodiment, and technological change from Haraway, Hayles, and Nakamura and/or Thompson and Schivelbusch in your analysis.
2. Trace one keyword, such as “cyborg,” “body,” “network,” “tool,” “machine” or “technology” across three or more of the readings we have completed so far this semester. How does each author you have chosen to analyze treat that concept? What concerns seem shared? Which author’s version of the keyword do you find most useful and/or provocative? Why?
3. Reflecting on historical perspectives of technological change, consider Marx’s, Thompson’s, Schivelbusch’s, and Rosenzweig’s analyses of particular events in the history of technology. Discuss the theories and conclusions of these writers, paying particular attention to the ways each depicts people’s actions and responses to technologies in the past and, with the notion of human agency in mind, how their perspectives might inform our responses to new and future technologies.
4. Write a bibliographic review essay that sketches out a critical dialogue about one of the key texts we have read this semester. You might, for instance, examine the critical reaction to Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto,” OR research the influence that a figure like Marx has had on subsequent theorists of technological change (such as Thompson, Schivelbusch or Rosenzweig), OR consider the ways neuroscience and/or gaming have helped reshape approaches to pedagogy. Your essay should work towards a synthesis of the critical discourse, making clear what kinds of debates, concepts, and terms delimit and define that discourse.
5. Write an essay comparing the histories of technological development (as outlined by Rosenzweig and Bush) and the American university system (as outlined by Brier, Kerr, Christensen, and Bousquet) since 1945. What are the forces that shape change in these fields? How are they alike or dissimilar? What do these histories portend for the present and the future? What do they mean for your own work, which necessarily must engage both trajectories?
6. Write a manifesto in which you argue for a more sophisticated relationship with technology than a technophilic/technophobic binary.
7. Design your own topic. You will need to have the topic approved by Lisa and Michael before you begin work.
Rationale and Guidelines
There are four main reasons why scholars write papers: 1) to develop and improve their thinking on a subject; 2) to contribute to their fields; 3) to earn all the benefits that come from publication (mercenary, but true); 4) any combination of the aforementioned. As a scholar, it is perfectly legitimate for you to write this first paper simply with the goal of improving your thinking about interactive technology and pedagogy, but we strongly recommend that you consider this an opportunity to contribute to your field and to enjoy the benefits that accompany publication.
We therefore ask you to consider exploring several journals in your field. Look at their publication guidelines and any current calls for articles they have, and look at our prompts in relation to them. If none of our prompts coincide with your interests and/or their calls, construct your own topic that does. Write with an eye toward submitting the paper to one or more of these journals. Save yourself some time now and format your papers according to their guidelines (e.g. if they want APA style, use APA style now). Consult with us for suggestions about where you might submit your work.
Unless you are submitting to a journal with different citation/formatting requirements, please default to the following formatting guidelines: double-spaced, 1″ (2.5cm) margins on all sides, 12-point Times New Roman font, and appropriate citations using MLA or Chicago 16 style (the guide to which you can find on the Mina Rees Library website). Please submit your paper as a Word document to BOTH Lisa.Brundage@mhc.cuny.edu and MMandiberg@gc.cuny.edu and upload it (if you want your fellow students to read it) to the course Group site under “Files.”