• 13Feb
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education Comments Off on The Google Generation vs Dumb & Dumber

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    “It’s very dangerous to simply stereotype a whole generation, give it a label [and] put it to one side…”

    Dr Ian Rowlands

    Have you noticed that the concept of ‘information overload’ is becoming less popular? It seems it’s being replaced by the idea of the evolution of a ‘dumbed down society’. Now, this video is of a presentation given at the Open University, UK by Dr. Ian Rowlands of the Centre for Publishing at University College London. During the video, he discusses the idea of the Google Generation and how children who grew up immersed in a technology-rich environment are developing into a ‘new breed’ of student. I just have a question I wanted to release into the blogosphere – a question that came to me while watching the webcast:

    Until recently, the argument was being put forth that in today’s world, the PhD is what the Masters degree was 15-20 years ago, and the Masters degree has the perceived value of the Undergraduate degree of the 1980’s. But, if society is ‘dumbing down’, then doesn’t that mean that reflective students are becoming a valuable commodity again? Or…are we becoming too ‘dumb’ to see the value all together?


  • 10Feb
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments Off on Enhancing Education Through Technology

    As a follow-up from a post I wrote last week on the impact of the proposed education stimulus package in the US, I wanted to make note today of what Dave Nagel writes about the progress of the discussions taking place between the House and the Senate.



    Senate, House Look To Reconcile Stimulus Packages; School Modernization up in the Air

    The Senate’s version of the stimulus package introduced compromises that reduced the original bill’s allocations targeted toward education-related programs; nevertheless, education technology came out ahead, with an increase in funding that brings EETT [Enhancing Education Through Technology] to its highest level ever.

    T.H.E. Journal, 2/10/2009


    Seems that instead of making ed tech the target of budget cuts (thank you mr. bush), we may soon see some huge resource injections. Although ed tech will likely see funding come its way, the actual modernization of schools is very much under debate. The question of how much sense it makes to install fiber optic cables into leaky buildings with outdated electrical systems isn’t for me to judge. I’m just waiting to learn about the details of the plans for the training and development of the teachers…


  • 08Feb
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments Off on You can’t see the painting if you’re standing in the frame…

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    I just read a short article by John Naughton entitled, Thanks, Gutenberg – but we’re too pressed for time to read and this concept of the ‘First Law of Technology’ made me think.

    I see the point of the argument (that the short-term impact of new technologies is overestimated while the long-term effects are underestimated). In fact, I’ve personally experienced its truth in my adventures as a learning technologist. Take the virtual learning environment (VLE) for example. Imagine a university that is just introducing it into its teaching infrastructure. Budgets have been allocated and money’s been spent. The VLE is anticipated to change the way the whole institution operates. Everyone is going to start using it right away, at least 50% of all modules with be delivered in blended learning using the VLE within 6 months. Sound familiar? I know!

    As a result of the overestimation of the potentials of the VLE, interest drops to near zero adoption, and although training and development staff are hired to support the integration of the VLE, there is little hope that any use will be made of it. The new appointments are really just political moves.

    Now imagine it’s one year later. Predictions of VLE extinction were wrong. It isn’t a raging fad, but pockets of users have mushroomed and a new realisation has surfaced:

    ‘Perhaps the VLE wasn’t used from the beginning by everyone because no one (except a few tech savants – closeted, of course) knew how to use it or even understood what it was in the first place.’

    The long term effects of the technology were vastly underestimated – the integration of a VLE had the potential to stimulate the develop of technology-based skills that tutors never used because the skills were never needed. The VLE changed teacher’s perspectives of technology – how it works, what it can be used for (in the classroom as well as in their personal lives) and the implications of its evolution and scaling. A tool that was intended to streamline the online storage and delivery of information (cringe) turned into a teaching tool about technology that broadened and deepened teachers’ views of technology.

    Something else struck me as I was going through this article. As I was reading about the birth of the printing press, and books (I vaguely remember what those are…) I found myself thinking about the different ways in which we read print-based text vs. online text. Has the Internet fundamentally changed the way we read? Has it redefined literacy skills? Should reading be taught differently in schools? Should ‘power browsing’ be added to the curriculum? If so, at what age should we start teaching it?

    Any ideas?

    And I know, I know what you’re asking yourself now. “How does all of this digital information processing affect the development and functioning of the human brain?” Well, no need to worry. The answer may soon come from this research conducted by Gary Small, a neuroscientist at UCLA.