Week 1 readings and notes

Some notes about reading (apologies if this is reminding you how to suck eggs). It is always important to think about who the author(s) is/are. What sort of a record do they have in this field? Where were/are they located? Does the location have any significance for what the paper is arguing? This is where your digital habits come in to play. Google scholar is handy for mapping the writing activity of particular authors.

The paper was published in 1997. At this time, computers have been in general use in schools for ten to fifteen years. There are other accounts available but I thought this was useful because of the broad view he takes. I have an Australian PhD thesis which tracks the policy changes in Australia specifically if anyone is interested. There are many accounts available online you might want to dig a few more up and share with the group.

Here is an online version of the paper which is useful if you want to do any copying and pasting.

Some of the things I’d like you to think about when you read Molnar:

  • what are some of the assumptions/claims associated with the use of computing and related technologies in education?
  • what are identified as the major problems/challenges?
  • how do the issues raised by Molnar mesh with your own understandings/experiences of computer use for educational purposes?
  • if Molnar wrote this history now, what educational ideas do you think would need to be included? That is are not represented in this paper.
  • while the computing and related technologies of 2014 are very different to those of the late 1970's have the educational issues changed?

Perhaps the key question of the paper is at the very end where he asks a question posed by herb Simon in the 1970's, i.e. what does it mean to know?

Is it what we have in our heads or how well we are skilled to explore the infosphere?

The term infosphere did not survive. There were other popular terms from the early days of the Internet that tried to describe something of the volume and ease of access to data and information.

For a succinct account of the state of the digital, you may find a post of Alec Couros' useful.

A few extra resources

There are a couple of other resources that I think you'll find useful in thinking a little more broadly about the digital.

Wright, A. (2015). The Future of the Web Is 100 Years Old. Nautilus. Retrieved from http://nautil.us/issue/21/information/the-future-of-the-web-is-100-years-old

As the piece by Alex Wright argues, the web has a certain inevitability about it. Is all this digital stuff inevitable? How do you think about the various bits of digital bibs and bobs you have to deal with?

Audrey Watters is an interesting freelance writer who is working on a book about the history of teaching machines. It's well worth a skim.

Bret Victor is seriously important thinker, freelance coder and writer. I'll argue he is one of the few folk who "gets" what the digital means for education This piece is a long watch but it offers something of a totally different take on the digital and education. The field has a long history of repeating itself over and over and over, since the early 1980's at least. This guy is one of the few folk who thinks about moving this field forward.

Not necessarily for this week but a piece to file or bookmark is a brief essay of his: some thoughts on teaching.