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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


kcharris's picture

Why Siri is the worst best friend you'll ever have

Watching the TED Talks lecture in class yesterday made me think about Siri, the greatest and worst function of the iPhone 4s and 5. We were talking about how men who weren't great at chess worked with computers that weren't top of the line and how they beat the best computers and the best men. I have to admit that I got really distracted and started thinking about man's attachment to and reliance on technology. So for the sake of this discussion, let's take Siri. Apple essentially created a pocket secretary. Siri's great. You can dictate things to her, you can have her call you by a different name, and you can have her remind you of things. The iPhone 5 has expanded on these functions so you now can have her tell you results of sporting events and I think she might be able to translate things for you. The best attribute that Siri possesses is that she is immensely entertaining. I could ask her ridiculous questions all day and never get bored.

jwang's picture

Technology and Human

      Before reading Clark’s book and writing the paper, I considered technology and the human body as two things clearly separated. However after reading that even the language we are using is technology, I find a little confusing to define the relationship of human and technology. Instead of simply stating that human invented and is controlling technology, I’m thinking that technology has also become an inseparable part of human and defines what human are.

         I also like the idea that instead of hoping the computers would do everything for us and  worrying about computers defeating human in the future, we should work with computers to solve problems that we are unable to do our own. This reminds me of the program I learned last year in my intro to computer science class. I saw fascinating works designed by human and realized by computer. It is almost impossible to finish such a work only by human or by computer. I think technology is becoming our shoes, helping us to run faster and jump higher.

dcenteio's picture

Reaction to 9/25

I mentioned in my small group that I felt like since being in this course and reading Clark's views on technology in society that I have found myself actually wanting to pull away from technology. Prior to the class I was the biggest activist on technological advancements and how more efficient, faster, and improved mannerisms have been discovered and have altered our society. I mentioned that there's no limit to what technology does and what we allow it do and eventually it just might take over.

Mirella brought up a interesting point that was then touched upon in the video clip also. which was that most people are skeptical about technology because of our internal fears of the advancements. This is a control issue and sometimes we humans feel the need to control all aspects of our environment. I really like the quote, "It's not about technology vs humans, it's how humans using technology can do great things".

I think Tuesday's class helped me to rediscover my love and appreciation for technology because honestly if used correctly it can do so much good. I found myself briefly resenting it in away because I thought it was sort of taking away from the value of childhood, communication, and in-person interactions but I now think we are more powerful together.

leamirella's picture

Media Literacy And Education

Writing my first paper (actually writing a traditional"academic paper": printed, double-spaced, 12 pt font) made me remember a whole bunch of questions that came out of a Serendip class that I took last semester. (Literary Kinds) In this post, I lamented about my "lack of media literacy" and how I was so frustrated with not being able to present information multimodally. But then I wrote this paper as my final for that same class where I really interrogated what it meant to be multimodal, and how this affected the genre of the academic paper. What I never did (and what I hope to really question and push throughout the course of this semester) is to link back my assertions in that final paper to my assumptions that I wrote about in that post.

stanner's picture

What to do with technology in the classroom - make it more or less visible?

Last class, we had "goal of education: make technologies more visible" written on the board.  I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if we tried to do the opposite instead.  Instead of making technologies more visible, what if we tried harder to integrate them into the classrooms or students themselves as invisible.  I'm not so sure that there is a clear answer of which one would be more beneficial, but it’s something interesting to think about.  

Making technologies more visible would be directing students to look back on old technologies, some that they take as givens and some that have become seen as outdated, and going back to their sources to seeing what they are missing, what has gotten lost along the way as these old technologies have evolved.  Making new technologies less visible would mean integrating them more into the way students learn, think, and exist.  It would mean not having to work around the projector screen that is blocking the blackboard, but rather working with it by learning and teaching how to use it well enough that it too becomes invisible. 

asweeney's picture

Another perspective on cyborgs?

Following our class discussion on Andy Clark's ideas and their application to the classroom, I attended my Religion, Sex, and Power class in which we had just read The Cyborg Manifesto  by Donna Haraway. Weird coincidence, right? Now, in this other class, we were looking at the concept of a cyborg through a feminist lense and discussing the differences between a cyborg and a goddess, as the auther eventually states that she "would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." How is it, we wondered, that a cyborg is a stronger figure to which women should look than the goddess? After debating for quite a while, we eventually concluded that one imporant aspect of the cyborg is that her inner knowledge is fused with the knowledge of the external world as well (I had to mention the "skinbag" concept at this point....). This contrasts with the image of the goddess that comes from within us and "is us." 

Since these two class discussions, I've been trying to think through how some of these contrasts between goddess and cyborg might related to the clasroom. Or do they? One thought I had is that maybe our classrooms should continue to emphasize the activity of reaching outside ourselves and to the larger community to help faciliate our learning and growth. 

maddybeckmann's picture

Tech in the classroom

To me it has been hard to see the application of Clark's ideas to the classroom. His ideas seem so theoretical and massive that applying them to the small setting of a classroom is hard for me. However, I take his ideas at the most basic form to mean how integrated our biological beings are with technology. Technology however can be just about anything. In my group we wanted Clark to put forth a list of what exactly is not "technology". There seems to be no line at all to draw between technologies and non technologies. However, I would like to take away the fact that we have and have always had a relationship with technology. Whether it be your pen our your laptop. We must then understand how we can use and work with technology rather than see it as it's own separate entity.

mfarbo's picture

"Design the solution around human rather than problem around the computer"

Instead of blaming the computer for why technology has taken over our lives, perhaps we should pause and take a moment to figure out how we can change the comupter so that it betters a human's functioning capabilities. In this sense, we should find a way that a comupter can benefit taking up a human's time. For example, I worry that all of this technology is hindering children from learning social interactions face to face so let's just say that the problem is lacking face to face interactions, and don't blame the computer for causing this. Rather, figure out a solution using the human--social interaction on facebook or twitter or blogs might just be changing what social interaction means. People are still communicating, just in a different sense, they don't need to be face to face but they are still sharing their ideas and thoughts. Similarly with what we talked about in class-children aren't learning cursive anymore because they can type. At first that seemed terrible but it seems much more efficient because typing is faster and often, more legible. 

leamirella's picture

Technology Toolkits

Deborah's point about the consumerism that fuels our need to constantly upgrade our devices was definitely true -- coming from
Hong Kong, a place notorious for it's materialistic citizens, I cannot get over the long queues at the Apple store everytime a new
iWhatever comes out. That said, I'm not sure that Deborah's consequent point about the difficulty of having to constantly upgrade
our "toolkits" to be able to use each and every new device quite stands.

We're at an interesting point in time where technology is moving at a faster pace than at any point in history. But what we some-
times neglect to remember is that rather than to work in order to use individual devices, we should really focus on being able to use
a variety as new technology keeps pouring in. This means getting to the core of how these new tools work: our toolkits should really
focus on being able to intuitively switch between different mediums as well as be able to anticipate/adapt to new forms.

maddybeckmann's picture

Things we can do (today and going forward) to share/teach what we have learned and something we ware wondering about

1. possibly consulting less "academic" sources to see how real-life teachers use technology in their classrooms. i.e. tips/how to , blogs

2. talk about teaching, learning, classrooms 

3. more online engagement outside of the classroom? a more of an “insider” approach might prove useful as not everyone is fluent

4. examples of technologies that have successfully been incorporated into the classroom 

5. share experiences of teachers (yours or that you have observed) using technology in the classroom and how it benefits or hinders learning. 

6. continue to think about how and why I use social media 

7. analyze Clark's methods of proof in his texts and to assure me of the validity of his arguments 

8. discuss Clark's main ideas and how they are/can be applied to the classroom

9. Share about specific person we know and how technology access might affect them

10. to possibly teach/discuss the benefits/disadvantages of technology and see how it can add to human life but not control it or take it over 

OliviaC's picture

Twitter hashtag archive for #netloged255

I've created an archive of the tweets to #netloged255.  The URL is:

You can look here to refer back to tweets that are more than 7 days old. The archive will auto-update and collect all the new tweets once a day.

Remember, you have to be tweeting from a public account (not a locked/private one) for your tweets to show up in a search for #netloged255!

leamirella's picture

Separate Twitter Accounts

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to share my experience using Twitter to "microblog" (whatever that means) about my day
last class but I wanted to share something that I think fits in quite nicely with the article that Jen Rajchel tweeted under the
#netloged255 hastag about the use of your real name on Facebook.

I'm not an avid fan of Twitter but I do have two accounts: one that's personal (and protected) and one that projects a more
"professional image". In fact, my best friend (in a tweet no less) commented on the "proper-ness" of my account. It's interesting
to reflect on why I choose to have two accounts. In my personal account, I follow various popular figures and my friends. The
people who follow me mostly know me personally and I consider it as somewhat of a brain dump. Scrolling through my past tweets,
I see my inner thoughts, inside jokes, and a lot of mean comments. (What does this say about me? I don't even wanna...) However,
my more "professional" account has tweets about my academic interests, tweets from another class I took, and the tweets I wrote
for #netloged255.I don't know the people who follow me personally, nor do I really know much about the people who I follow.

kcharris's picture

Facebook autobiography

alesnick's picture

Facebook Autobiography Excerpts

Dear Students,

Please post your excerpts in the comment section right below (within this forum). Thanks!

alesnick's picture

Discussion Forum

This is the discussion forum for Education, Technology, and Society: Altering Environments.  Please use it to continue and start conversations, raise questions, and share resources. 

OliviaC's picture

Tweeting from your phone

One of the cool things about using Twitter in a class setting is that it allows you to continue the discussion outside the classroom.  For people whose phones have Twitter apps or web access this is pretty easy but you may not have realized that you can also use a regular cell phone to submit and read tweets.

Twitter has an FAQ on phones and also a Getting Started Guide for Twitter via SMS.

In a nutshell here's how you register your phone to your Twitter account and start tweeting via SMS: