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Education, Technology, and Society 2013

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alesnick's picture

Welcome to the online community space of Education, Technology, and Society, a course offered by the Education Program of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, Pennsylvania, USA.  

Course Description

This course investigates online networked experiences as among the technologies and environments environments (small and broad scale) in which people now grow (often via struggle and conflict).  As occasions in which people use the Internet to act and interact, online networked experiences are increasingly normal though not consistent or evenly accessible across.  They are also changing the ways people live and work in non-networked environments.  

We will explore networked experiences as those we share with other people (intimates and not) in real time and asynchronously, and those we have on account of people’s having constructed interactive experiences that we share with machines (such as with “smart” tutors). Such experiences seem likely to open up new forms of being. What consequences might these have? Do these new forms have special promise or carry particular threats for people?  all people? certain people? If so, what about the fact that many lack/are denied necessary resources to access them?  

Of course, these interactions are increasing, though quite unevenly part of the process, and product of teaching, learning, and schooling.  How shall we think about and make decisions with respect to this increase, and this unevenness?  Inequalities and inequities will also be our business in this course as we seek to better understand whether and how online, networked experience can enhance education.

We will create this course together.  I will work to catalyze a community of learners able to support, encourage, and inspire each other.  In order to achieve this, we all have the responsibility to keep communication channels open and respectful, to engage and listen, to question, and to be honest.

The course asks you to think expansively about teaching and learning -- about education in and outside of schools. In this way, you will become skilled at joining and shaping public discourse and your own choices around these issues when in a range of roles. I want to work with you to develop ways of imagining and judging that are informed by a sense both of possibility and of suspicion.  Skepticism here will mean a capacity to question everything, even the stance of doubt.


wendydays's picture

A 17 Minute film set entirely on a Teen's Computer Screen

I found this film to be fascinating! True to life, and really seemed to hit close to home. I think it portrays how dramatically techonology and social media has already changed the way we are communicating and interacting. 

You can't really fight it. 

Warning: Some segments contain explicit male nudity

wendydays's picture

Audio Excerpt from "The Dumbest Generation"

A book that presents an extremely critical and negative view of technology that I partially read before I started this course. I have yet to finish it because I think the book is a little repetitive. Nonetheless it is still a different perspective. It is written by Mark Bauerlein an English Professor from Emory University. The book was reccommended reading by an influential English teacher from my High School.

Connecting to our discussion today:

If young kids are spending alot more time being online and playing video games, are they spending less time reading??

Silentp's picture

Reflections from the Rabbit Hole

As a mother I thought it would be a little bit strange to work with kindergarteners who are not my own. But the staff at our school, and all the wee ones have made it all feel incredibly natural. In addition I have gained a new, perspective about the life my son leads every weekday at school.
We have, as a group, been able to formulate a plan, and begin implementation in a smooth consistent way; not just because of the cooperation of the group and the school staff, but because we have been able to share scheduling, and ideas using google docs. It has saved us time and allowed us to work on the fly.
My apprehension about using tech is less about privacy, but more about how difficult the internet intentionally makes it for one to stay on task. The idea of an ebook has led me down several interesting rabbit holes on the web. In the process, I am learning to develop efficient search strategies. Of course I am unsuccessfully trying not to follow every slightly interesting new link. The class itself has made me hyper aware of how much time I am using to do specific tasks on the internet. Though, finding a way to be consistently focused is something I have yet to develop. Yet, I am starting to feel like the internet may not be all that compatible with focus, and my idea of what it is to focus, and to learn is widening. Sometimes it feels really exciting and freeing to get caught down the rabbit hole.

sborjas's picture

Placement Week 1

So far in my placement I have made contact with the student from Ghana and we have set up a time for us to gchat every week. This initial contact is very important and S (my pen-pal) seems nice and just as excited as I am to finally get started. We have agreed to talk via Google chat Monday afternoons. In the placement group we have talked about what kinds of questions we are going to ask our pen-pals.

Our class discussions on the structure of the e pen-pals has been a little confusing but I think we have been getting better at figuring out the expectations for the placement. Our Google Doc and having a point person to lay out our path has been helpful.

At this point now I think it is important for everyone in the group to make initial contact with their pen-pal and set up times to talk. I think it is also important that we continue to talk about what we discuss with our pen-pals so we are on the same page. We should also discuss with our pen-pals how they access the internet to understand what they do on their end to talk with us. 

rlee03's picture

Field Placement - Week 1

Our group managed to set up a meeting with Ms. S to discuss some questions we had regarding our schedules, and the project that we are planning to do. Ms. S managed to give us a good idea of how this project might work, and she helped rearrange times for us to go to the kindergarten to observe the classroom and kids for a bit. We all went to observe at different times, so we can have a good idea of how their day works. I went to the kindergarten from 8:45-10:45am and observed the first part of their day, which consists of kids choice, recess, and snack time. The kids get to choose what they want to play with, among a good number of activities such as painting, reading, playing doctor, and etc. 

We are meeting up again this Sunday to start planning our project and lesson plans, since by then all of us will have observed different times of the day and have a pretty good idea of how the kindergarten works. We're using google docs and google calanders and also sharing them with the Kindergarten teacher and Ms. S so that they can always comment, suggest, and help us out with our project. But our project is centered around the idea of "growth," and is divided into four parts. We are also hoping to be able to contact an elementary school at Ghana and collaborate with them. For now, we want to have a final end product of an e-book, a hardcopy, and a video. The e-book will be the one that we will be constantly updating, so everyone can follow the project along the way.

iwozniak's picture

Field Journal - Week 1

My group and I have yet to go to our placement, but I think that we will be able to start next week.  As we work past this hiccup, I need to remain patient and keep in mind that teaching is an extremely demanding and time consuming profession, with or without technology to help ease the workload. 

In the meantime, we'll continue preparing for our placement: figuring out logistical details and determining our own personal goals for the placement. Because the classrooms we'll be working in heavily incorporate iPads, my group and I are going to explore the devices' functions and capabilities. 

abradycole's picture

Placement Reflection Week 1

This week our group has been trying to figure out the logistics of our placement visits. We're so excited to get involved in the classroom. 

Right now I'm just feeling excited to actually get involved. I think our group has a solid framework set up for how we want to navigate our placement, so we're now just waiting for input from the teacher. I can't wait to get started.

edtech14's picture

YLIP Week 1


One of our group's goals for this week was to learn how and where our pen pals were accessing technologies in order to have our conversations each week. My partner said that he currently borrows his friend's computer to talk, but his friend will be going to Denmark soon and Adam will have to then pay to use internet at an internet cafe in nearby Tamale. Our group also was hoping for each of us to set personal goals with our pen pals as well as expectations. Adam and I established that we would both like to learn more about each other's cultures and education systems. I told him that in America, we usually graduate high school around 17 or 18 years old. He informed me that there in Ghana, due to lack of funds, one can push back their high school graduation until their mid to late 20s. In fact, he graduated a few months ago at the age of 27, took his examinations to get into college, and says he will get the results by December or January. He has been working as an administrator for a local youth association for the past few years and wants to study government.

so what:

Now that we have started our back and forth, I feel that the ice is broken more than before and I have a clearer idea of his day to day life and the timeline of his education so far. 

now what:

meganholt's picture

Field Placement Reflection (week 1)

            Last week my group had a Skype meeting with the co-director of Arise, to try to get a basic understanding of what our goals are for working with Arise.  It is a relatively new program and their website did not provide us with a significant amount of information about the formal structure or clear programs, goals, plans, and objectives of the company. So, we were hoping that talking with Mr. B. would provide us with that clarity that we were seeking. Some members of our group seemed to feel as though not much progress was made during the Skype call since he did not really provide us with any specific tasks or actions he wanted us to perform for him. However, I felt like this was an indicator in its own form; we are going to have to put just as much thought into generating projects and collaboration activities as Mr. B and his partner are. One of the things that we were able to get out of the Skype call was the importance of story telling in Ghanaian culture. So, we took this and ran with it when looking forwards and attempting to create a plan for our engagement in this exchange. We began brainstorming ways that we could use technology as a form of story telling and we played with the idea of that being the theme for one of Arise’s workshops. An idea that arose in Alice’s facebook conversation with Mr. B was the creation of introductory videos that could be shared between the participants in the workshops and us.

mkasahun's picture

10/02 Field Placement Reflection

After speaking with Mr. B, the primary contact for Arise, Alice, and the rest of the group, we've been able to finally solidify some main ideas for our collaboration. In the beginning, it was evident that there needed to be some more conversations about finding a common ground between Mr B's vision for Arise and the group's vision for what we'd like to gain from the experience after the termination of the semester.

Google docs has made it easy for the group members to add, edit, or make suggestions for new ideas at the same time or during our personal time outside of class. We have also shared the document with Mr B to keep him updated on where we stand on the placement. It also gives him the opportunity to comment on our ideas which I believe will be very useful in the future.

Something that I've realized in group collaborations such as this one, it's important to have clear deadlines for nearly everything so that all participants can always be on the same page. With this in mind, we've added a "Weekly Goals" at the top of the page to add our placement homework. During conversations with Alice, Mr B revealed that he would like each of us to make a video introducing ourselves and our interests in Arise and education. We thought this was an efficient and easy way to share a bit more about ourselves, so we decided that the videos should be finished by Tuesday of next week.

alesnick's picture

Class 10-1 -- Placement Group Work

Placement -- updates, what is your plan for this week in your placement?  

To Discuss in your placement group:  WHAT WILL YOUR FIRST WEEK LOOK LIKE?

What technologies can you explore to add value to your placement and help build relationships.

Can you try something you haven’t tried before?

What are your expectations for self, group members, placement partners?  How will you communicate these?

How will you know at the end that your week working in your placement has been successful?

Put this on your googdoc and share with us.  Bring back to big group: one intention you have.

What do you expect of your group members?

What ideas/questions are you investigating with your placement experience?

edtech24's picture

Rose and thorns/today's discussion

What I really like about our class is that the topic is so broad and important that we can almost always find a way to link our everyday concerns to the discussion - and through many physical and virtual platforms. It gives a sense of flexibility and creativity but also requires great responsibility for everyone to actively contribute to the class's discussion. 

alesnick's picture

Mission: Possible! Ed 255's jointly authored top 3 (or 4) priorities for inquiry



Our class wrote these together.  Feedback welcome!

1. Creativity and Structure. What are the relationships between learner- driven inquiry and organization, creativity and standardization, and how do online experiences interact with/inform/reflect these relationships? (EMERGENCE)

2. Access and Social Inequality. who has access to the Internet and who doesn’t? where? and to what (including e-labor and e-waste)? How do different people/groups create and use access?  What do we need to know to think well about this and how it impacts high access spaces? (POWER)

3. Human Development.  How do our growing/changing bodies and brains interact with and get shaped by networked experiences?  Opportunities and opportunity costs? How is identity  shaped and changed by (and shapes and changes) online, networked experiences? (IDENTITY)

4. Institutions and Communities?

wendydays's picture

Step Away From the Phone! - The Luxury of Disconnection

I feel like this is an interesting NYtimes article that is relevant to our discussion on technology today.

labdulnabi's picture

Technology's Influence on Learning

Over the past couple of weeks, I have learned that technology provides learners with various means to enhance the quality of their understanding and reinforce their prior learning in and outside of traditional classroom. Technology can in fact improve learning if used in an appropriate and effective manner, i.e. technology can enhance learning if it’s effectively incorporated into the course curriculum. In addition, learners can expand their knowledge through online programs and by interacting and collaborating with other individuals and content experts via social media across the nation and the world for that matter, providing easy access to information and resources.

Rose: This course and the materials we’ve learned thus far have changed my perception of the use of technology in education.

 Throne: I’d like to learn more about whether technology hinders physical interactivity now that technology has made interaction and communication so much easier via social media.