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Education, Technology, and Society: Altering Environments

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alesnick's picture

Welcome to the course pages for Education 255: Education, Technology, and Society: Altering Environments, a course given at Bryn Mawr College, Fall 2012.  Students, colleagues, and visitors are invited to join in conversation about online networked experiences and -- and as -- learning. 

syllabus, Part 2/Take 2


about the instructor


besanradwan's picture

Field Placement

Hey All,

My field placement isn't until tomorrow, but I thought I'd still try to contribute by posting what is on tap for my placement work tomorrow. Teacher M at School X wants me to sort through a bunch of iPad apps and rate them and see how applicable they could be to the students at each grade level. This is a very efficent use of technology and even gamification to better enhance a students learning experience. That's all for now, but I'll be sure to post tomorrow to let everyone know how it went.

asweeney's picture

What, So What, Now What? # 1 (sorry this is long-- a lot happened!)

The What.

"What??!!!!" "What is happening here?" This is what went through my mind during my first overwhelming visit to Teacher S's classroom. (Don't worry--it gets better by visit # 3)

Teacher S teaches a kindergarten class in an urban elementary school in Philadelphia. She was supposed to have 19 children in her class. Because of the school closings this summer, however, she has 27 children and no aid. She has asked parents and grandparents to volunteer when possible. While I was there for the first visit, there was one parent there (1 hour) and one grandparent there (a different hour). My assumption that such a need for outside help reflects how even the best teachers need help in under-resourced school communities.

While the class sits on this carpet playing a name game, 2 children sit on a different carpet in a different area of the classroom with the parent helper. The teacher mentions to me that these children “are not ready to join the class yet.”The rest of the class moves to the other carpet area to review their letters and letter sounds. At this point, the two children and the parent helper are supposed to transition and switch carpets. This transition, to put it simply, did not go well. Child A and Child B start chasing each other around one of the work tables. The parent tries to get them to stop. Child B starts to scream. The rest of the class is being asked to listen to the ABCs but many are looking behind them at the behaviors or Children A and B instead.

alesnick's picture

Midcourse Feedback Survey

Hi Students:

The link is here:

With thanks to Esty for collaborating on and formatting it.  Looking forward to your responses.

All best,


maddybeckmann's picture

Questions up Now? (our placement questions)

What are the intentions behind supplying schools with the most recent technology? 

Is it just tho keep it current? Comparing expectations to actual use by teachers and students?   

How is (or isn't) technology incorporated in the classroom? 

Who determines the effectiveness of technology? Teachers or students? 

What is Clark forgetting/leaving out? Where is technology not a 1st priority in the classroom and how do our schools' models and policies promote and inhibit learning in the classroom? 

How can issues of saftey in the classroom affect the ways in which tech. is neglected or misused or even perpetuate inequalities and achievement gap (safe environments achieve more than unsafe ones)?  

MGuerrero's picture

Article on Technology & Education

alesnick's picture

Field Placement Notes

Please use this forum as a place to post notes of your field placement experiences.  Remember: pseudonyms (fake names) MUST be used for all individuals and institutions, and any other identifying material must not be included in any posts.  The format I am asking you to use is a paragraph on each of the following:

what? (descriptions of events in as neutral language as possible)

so what? (reactions, interpretations, implications, questions)

now what? (ideas for next steps, follow-up, new focal areas, ways of looking)

Please read and respond to the posts of your placement group members. 

alesnick's picture

Campus Talk of Interest


Department of Sociology

Announces the Upcoming Public Lecture by


Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities

Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University


The Hand and the Garden: Reading, Connection, and the Five Dimensions of Media Practice


"Have you ever wondered about the impact of the internet on the reading habits of young people?"

Educators and parents worry that reading is faltering among youth, losing the competition with social media, texting, and online entertainment. Past research suggested a “glamour versus honor” thesis. Now research on a new generation (in media terms) finds that although the spatial and temporal organization of connectivity has changed radically, the cultural separation of reading from being online persists. Understanding media practices requires a five-dimensional conception that incorporates space, time, materiality, social honor, and the imagined future.

 Thursday, October 25 @ 7:30 p.m., Dalton 300

Open to the Public

leamirella's picture

Will I Get a Job? : An Exploration Of The Boundary Between Virtual And Meatspace Lives.

Wanting to produce a paper multimodal, I turned to our syllabus for inspiration. Taking elements from the work that we did with scrapbooks, as well as the "roaming ethnographers" exercise, I have come up with this project. To view all of my posts that relate to this paper, click on the EDUC255 hashtag. (You should see it on the first post!)

My intention with this project was to challenge the method in which academic papers were presented. My approach placed more emphasis on the process of thinking through my ideas and thus, I have intentionally refrained from constructing any sort of "academic claim". Further, in the same vein as the "roaming ethnographer" exercise, I posted throughout the weekend as new thoughts came to me. Armed with my iPad, I captured and collected what I call "digital ephemera" -- items that I found floating around in cyberspace/digital representations of "meatspace" objects, that pertained to my key terms: "online identities", "privacy" (or lack thereof), Clark's term "intrusion", "workplace", "Facebook", "professional", and "employment". Using Tumblr seemed the obvious way to go for me; I regarded it as somewhat of an online scrapbook. 

besanradwan's picture

Dance and Technology

Hello everyone!

So, one thing I love more than ANYTHING is when my classes overlap, and that happened to me today with my Computer Science class and this Education class. We had a speaker come in today and talk to us about incorporating dance and technology. Somehow, I managed to bring up Clark's cyborg reading and it fueled part of the discussion about how people "felt" about technology beign incorporated into their bodies and movement. The answer in short is apparently dancers LOVE it! They feel it enhances their capabilites.

I just wanted to share that! 

alesnick's picture

Diablogging about Games, Gaming, Gamification

This is a forum for students in two courses at two different institutions to explore experiences, ideas, and questions about playing games online; about using games to change the world; and about what we think about all of this.  Diablogging together will also give us an opportuinty to see how the Internet might foster conversation/build community about issues of shared interest.  Could this diablog ever work or feel like a world-changing game? 

The first exchange will happen this way.  Members of one class will each write a response to at least three of the following questions.  At the end of your post, please pose a question that a member of the other class will answer as part of their writing their responses to at least three of the questions.  Please be appropriate and respectful in writing in public to others.  At the same time, please don't hold back on saying what really interests you and where it comes from.  If you have any questions, please let your instructor know! 

Do you think playing games can help change the world?

Why do you feel the way that you do?

What is something that McGonigal said that you found interesting and disagreed with and why?

Name one personal experience you had with a game and what it taught you.

Briefly describe a new game/invention and how it would change the world.

What are you still curious about?

leamirella's picture

Feeling "out-of-the-loop" and "uncool"....

Today's panel made me realize that I am super uncool. The fact that these high school students were coding, really exploring their identities online AND had a level of understanding of new media technology that I couldn't parallel made me want to crawl into a hole and cry.


Aside from this, I found myself asking the question: how do we educate a younger generation about technology if they seem to know so much more than we do? Technology is evolving so fast these days -- whatever pedagogical approaches to technology that we come up with/theorize about in this course may not be relevant a couple of years down the line. AND whatever technology we teach them to use in schools now might not be useful when they get into college and the wider world.

For example, I was made to do an DiDA (in my day, AiDA) Edexcel GCSE course in ICT. (More info here) I received a certificate that indicated that I could competently use computers. But, a couple of years later, I found that the skills that I used in this course redundant, and a waste of time. All I had was a pathetic little certificate that said that I could use a computer back in 2005. (or was it 2006?) This attempt by my education to ensure that I had the "skills" to use computers later on in life failed.

asweeney's picture

Mediums for Meanness?

Wow! I was so impressed by the panel today. I could speak to those kids for hours more. One thing that came up briefly in the discussion, but that we did not have time to really explore was the ways in which technology can help form tight-knit communities based on the shared destructive comments about a different person or group. I know that this is a common feature of all human societies (we like to form an "us" as opposed to a "them") but such dynamics are typically discouraged in school settings where we try to teach kids about how to be better people---or this was at least true in my religious school that listed one of its top 5 goals as "building community as a christian value." I wonder if increased access and usage of technology makes it less problamatic and easier for kids to be hateful and mean towards others (like the example of the principle talked about today). In my high school, we had an instance of meanness on that became a huge problem. Because people were anonymous, they felt comfrotable saying malicious things about others online. On the other hand, I'm sure a lot of us have seen the ways in which YouTube users united to create a message of kindness -- "It Gets Better"-- in the past years. Do you think technology is helping or hindering children's ability to practice kindness (I really believe that kindness does take practice)?

alesnick's picture

Jane McGonigal to speak at Swat Nov 14 7:30 with thanks to panelist Harry Smythe for letting us know!

mfarbo's picture

I feel so old...

Although the age difference was only two years, I feel like I'm a different generation than the panel from today. They were exposed to technology at a much younger age than I was and for a different purpose. I'm sure it's frustrating to have more technological knowledge than their teachers (because I've felt that way with my parents) but at the same time, they should look at the teacher's perspective--the teacher is in charge and perhaps doesn't like reading online and does better with an actual printed copy. These kids are so incredibly smart and I'm sure they will someday create a super comupter/do really amazing things!

mzhang's picture

class reflection on Clark's Chapter 1-5

While we were discussing about our entries into this tech & educ class, our group shared the point that it never occurred to us that we, human beings, are actually having a deep and complex relationship and interactions with technology. Through Clark's book, we were inspired to look at a bigger and more profound picture about our involvement with this semi-intelligent world. 

Hoever, even though we found Clark's book inspiring and open-minded, we could not deny that his arguments and interpretations provided in the book turned out to be distractive and be in a fog frequently. Clark came out of interesting and creative ideas and questions about this human-centered technological world but his proof and explanations, such as experiments and hypothesis, were pale and loose-connected. 

dephillips's picture

Where I Find Inspiration

While I wasn't in class on to Tuesday to expand on Clark's ideas, I do know that nothing I have read that he has written has inspired me. Some of it has made me think a little differently about technology, but nothing more than that. What has really affected me and made me see the relevance of our discussions and technology's impact was today's class. I left class feeling like I finally had a concrete and relevant example of how technology can be used as a meaningful and effective tool. I think in one of the best directions we can take this class is to explore more "real world" uses of technology within our community.  

Julie Mazz's picture

Google Glasses

I tweeted about this, but I also wanted to post the link on here. Diane Von Furstenberg (the designer) taped her runway show using Google Glasses. She, along with some of her collaborators and models wore the glasses and it was edited in to a video. Watch it here:

besanradwan's picture

Clark Reading--class reflection


In class, our group discussed Clark’s cyborg readings and how that played into our feelings towards the class. There was a general consensus amongst the people in our group that the Clark reading was more confusing rather than informative. The main reason I think this is, is the writing style that Clark adopts. In his writing, Clark tends to try to prove concepts by examples rather than solidifying his claims and arguments by using original research. Thus, Clark’s text seems more like a thoughtful muse, rather than a piece of writing meant to prove a certain fact.

hweinstein's picture

So what do we learn?

I'm still struggling with figuring out what should education provide for humans, considering the new role of technology.  I keep hearing the opinion that with computers around to help us, we can bypass the basics of math/science, depending on the computers for that knowledge, and skip right to the quantum mechanics and other higher-level ideas that we haven't taught computers how to do yet.  My hesitation is that I am not convinced that higher-level ideas can be accessed without an understanding of how the basics work, especially when we want to put our current ideas to the test.  I have trouble imagining a creative scientific process that relies on information feeding from computers.  Also, I think it would be really difficult to solve a higher-level problem without having first grappled with the lower-level ideas first.  Just because a machine can produce relevant information instantaneously doesn't automatically give this information meaning.  What are ways a teacher can facilitate a deeper understanding/meaning to a concept, not burdening the student with calculations that computers can do, but still bearing in mind that any program created to help foster this understanding is a human creation and can still be (and should be) called into question.

emmagulley's picture

The "ick" factor

Towards the end of our last class we watched a TED video in which the speaker suggests that we reevaluate the way we think about technology, computers, and scientific "advancement."  He suggested that, rather than think of technology as something we're losing control over or as something that's growing more powerful than we are, that we consider it as a kind of new partnership.  I found this theory simple--so simple, in fact, that it seems obvious--but also deep and multileveled.