I have created a page that lists some of the titles. It does not include works of sociology or guides on instructional design. It also does not include "books from history," that is books written by notable historical figures in the field.
Technology is not the sum of the artefacts, of the wheels and gears, of the rails and electronic transmitters. Technology is a system. It entails far more than its individual material components. Technology involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.
Watters explains that this includes many elements within schools and should not be merely reduced to ‘computers’. In a second post, she explains that:
“Hardening schools” is an education technology endeavor, whether or not we take seriously anyone’s suggestions about giving teachers guns. For now, “hardening schools” explicitly calls for hardware like those items listed by Governor Scott: metal detectors and bulletproof windows, as well as surveillance cameras and various sensors that can detect gunfire. It also implies software – social media monitoring and predictive analytics tools, for example, that claim they can identify students “at risk” of violence or political extremism.
Coming at this problem from a different perspective, Genevieve Bell responded to questions of data and ‘neutrality’ in the Q&A associated with her Boyer Lectures. Given the example of the supposed innocence of a train timetable, she explained how Amazon use variables such as timetables to continually adjust the price of goods.
In this episode, Kin and Audrey talk about the tech "regrets" industry, the attention economy, and more.
The coverage of Elon Musk’s companies is almost always coverage of Elon Musk. That’s how he wants it, of course. Journalists, as mythmakers, seem happy to oblige.
Amazon’s the sleeper to watch. It’s the one I think is increasingly shaping how we think about learning and how we think about work – and central to both in the American ideology, of course – how we think about consumption. The company has made a few gestures at “the education space.” It’s acquired math worksheet company. It’s launched Amazon Inspire – what it calls “an open collaboration service” (or more accurately, a site where educators can find and download and probably some day buy digital lessons and resources). Amazon also remains the go-to site for purchasing textbooks online. And ed-tech evangelists, as they’re wont to do, continue to write silly things about Alexa and the future of the “voice-activated classroom”
The problems of technology – and the problems of the storytelling about the computing industry today, which seems to regularly turn to the worst science fiction for inspiration – is bound up in all this. There’s a strong desire to create, crown, and laud the Hero – a tendency that’s going to end pretty badly if we don’t start thinking about care and community (and carrier bags) and dial back this wretched fascination with weapons, destruction, and disruption.
Instead of experts, Zuckerberg says, it’s going to be up to “the community.” This disdain for experts is part of the problem we face now – culturally, politically, intellectually. There are researchers whose field of study is precisely this: how do people assess the credibility of information sources? How do technologies shape our notion of trust? How is trust gained, and how is trust violated? How is trust gamed? But why listen to experts when Facebook’s CEO can just get the engineers down the hall to cobble together some poll, and then tell the users this is what they wanted all along. Personalization.
The Friendly Orange Glow is a history of PLATO – one that has long deserved to be told and that Dear does with meticulous care and detail. (The book was some three decades in the making.) But it’s also a history of why, following Sputnik, the US government came to fund educational computing. Its also – in between the lines, if you will – a history of why the locus of computing and educational computing specifically shifted to places like MIT, Xerox PARC, Stanford. The answer is not “because the technology was better” – not entirely. The answer has to do in part with funding – what changed when these educational computing efforts were no longer backed by federal money and part of Cold War era research but by venture capital. (Spoiler alert: it changes the timeline. It changes the culture. It changes the mission. It changes the technology.) And the answer has everything to do with power and ideology – with dogma.