Showing posts with label technopanic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technopanic. Show all posts

Hybrid Fluxed #03: It Sure Is Easy to Bash the MOOCs Part 1

A colleague brought this article to my attention on the concerns about MOOCs as apply to teaching history at the college level (and more than likely extend to many of us who teach in the Liberal Studies/Arts).  This article like so many written by people concerned about MOOCs are poorly constructed and limited in its value to the discussion.  While some of their claims are things we should be concerned about, others illustrate a failure to think flexibly or understand what they are actually discussing but feel more like reacting for the sake of reacting.  Such articles provide great opportunities to malign these new forms of technology and their impact on education, but do little to actually improve the situation.  In short, these articles are masturbatory acts that help no one when actually considering how to respond to the MOOCs.

The initial problem, I see is that the author, Jonathan Rees conflates the profession of history with the profession of teaching ("To me, Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) represent the potential for the Taylorization of the academic workplace and are therefore a threat to the “rule of thumb” judgments upon which the historical profession depends.").  These are two different things.  Yes--many historians teach, but others do not, and still others consider it secondary or even a necessary evil to what their primary work is.  Also, if teaching was considered a serious part of the historical profession, why is there so little official training for it within history programs?  (More on this later.)

His critical assessment of unbundling seems to undermine or ignore what is par for the course for the majority of courses and the practice of history in general.  He asks, "Why should anybody provide content for their classrooms, they ask rhetorically, when the best professors in the world can be piped in via the Internet?"  Isn't the logical extension of this concern making sure all content of the course is solely from the instructor?  That is, are instructors performing an act of unbundling every time they use outside textbooks, articles, documentaries, etc?   Furthermore, then should we not expect historians to use technology to locate and collect the best materials possible when conducting research?  Why should we expect a world-wide scouring of solid evidence and resources when composing a history article but when it comes to students, assume that the instructor knows all and sees all despite having a limited and almost-singular focus on history (that is, a specialization)?  Unbundling is what all of us do every time we select materials that we ourselves did not create such as textbooks, journal articles, or documentaries.  Pretending that using video lectures from others who may have a better capacity to present the material is different is making a false distinction.  

His assumption that "there are very few history MOOCs compared to the number of MOOCs in other disciplines" because "many other history professors with the opportunity to teach MOOCs have been scared off by the pedagogical sacrifices this kind of teaching would require" is an inaccurate claim with no research.  That would be akin to assuming that since the earliest of films were largely documentary and depiction of the world as it is, it must be because storytellers saw nothing to be gained from storytelling in the cinematic form and never would.  He also seems to imply that no one is interested in doing history MOOCs and yet there are currently over 70 history MOOCS being offered (http://www.mooc-list.com/tags/history).  Maybe that is "few...compared to the number of MOOCs in other disciplines"--but his implication that this is a pedagogical choice is poorly researched and understood.  MOOCs started in the sciences which is why he offhandedly notes, "Computer scientists, for example, seem to love them."  In part because that's where MOOCs started in these disciplines in the late 2000s and took time to make the transition into other disciplines.  Yes, there aren't as many but there are clearly more and more coming.  

He describes "flipped classes" as "Loading them [students] down with taped lectures." Again, this appears poorly presented in that if he had researched flipped classrooms or enlisted the aid of an instructional designer, he would discover that when done with pedagogically sound methods, flipped classrooms are not merely "taped lectures."   Believing that a flipped classroom is just "taped lectures" is like believing that watching a recorded theater performance and watching a cinematic adaptation of a play are the same thing.   

He laments that "Unfortunately, any other historian making use of their content will have to adapt to their particular historical content preferences. I can’t help but wonder whether students will understand who their real professor is in this situation."  Well, here's a question: how often are instructors confused for the authors of the textbooks they use in the course?  How often is the instructor confused for narrator or host of a documentary watched in class?  The answer is probably never or so rare that, the question is silly.  

He also grows concerned about the potential use of celebrities in MOOCs.  Well, if using Matt Damon for the lectures (and in truth, this isn't much different from when an instructor uses a documentary with a famous actor narrating it) can show improved student learning and retention, should we not consider using it--just as we have used celebrities to endorse and encourage other beneficial content and behaviors?  Isn't part of what learning is about emotional connection and if an actor can help one emotionally connect, why is that not a legitimate consideration for learning?  How much training of faculty is there before they step into a classroom about emotional connection and engagement?  Unless you have acquired it outside the discipline through out means or training, there's little guarantee that you have this skilset for the classroom.  

I've listened thousands of audiobooks in the last two decades and professionally reviewed well over 800 of them.  Without a doubt, the professional narrator always does better than author who narrates his or her own book.  There are definitely exceptions, but on the whole, the professional narrator is better at communicating in his or her professional endeavor.  Wherein the author usually does exceedingly well is when he or she has a background in broadcasting already.  The fact is, training someone for years in researching, writing, and professionally presenting historical research is poor training for communicating and engaging with a lay audience (i.e. college students who have little to no interest in history).  How often have we been bored to death by a professional presentation or fought our weighted eyelids as we tried--TRIED--to get through some journal article?   

The real thing that scares the author is:  "Yet such sacrifices are only one way that MOOCs could de-­professionalize, or even de-­skill, large segments of the professoriate. Historians who do not select their own content or write their own lectures could easily be replaced by personnel with less training, perhaps graduate students or people with no training in history at all. Or perhaps the schools that license history MOOCs will hire no onsite teaching help whatsoever and simply let students fend for themselves."  

This brings us back to the earlier point about history as a trained discipline.  Rees is largely scapegoating technology for the actual threat: the history discipline.  How many master and doctorate programs are geared towards producing historians (not including those focused on creating middle and high school history teachers) actually spend any programmatic time on exploring pedagogy for teaching at the college level?  And assistantships do not count--given they are working with live specimens, have inconsistent levels of supervision, and largely are thrown into classes without any training about teaching.   The MOOCs are not de-professionalizing anyone; the discipline is doing so if it isn't actively and consciously training historians as educators (if in fact that is part of the purpose of the history discipline).  Yes, history programs often do well at training the historian to study history but studying history and teaching history are about as far apart as being a mechanic and being a race car driver.  Yes, there is bound to be some overlap but the history discipline largely leaves it to chance that the mechanic is interchangeable with the race car driver.  Pretending that one goes hand in hand with the other is a failure to understand that learning is not the same as teaching. 

Here's a great example:  The very university that Rees teaches at has a Master of Arts in History.  
  • How many courses are required by Masters' students on pedagogy to complete the degree?  Zero.  
  • How many courses on pedagogy or instruction are offered even as electives within the history discipline?  Zero.  
Yet, a graduate with an MA in History can often start teaching at the college level.  If Rees is bemoaning the loss of professionalism within the history discipline, he would do better to actually establish professionalism around instruction within the discipline .  With that in hand, maybe MOOCs wouldn't be as big of a threat as he poses them to be.  

However, he is right.  There are many concerns to MOOCs, though most of them are a matter of time and tweaking.  He points to optional readings as a concern or "sacrifice".  That's not a real concern.  One can require readings--they just need to be accessible to students and not externalized costs at the student's behalf.  If he considers this a "sacrifice", then may he should reconsider why he is critical of the idea that using other professionals' resources in his classroom since the books he assigns for courses are just that.  

What I find most damming about the article is that as a leader, he offers poor leadership in this regard.  He bashes the MOOCs (with poor arguments) but offers nothing in contrast.  He agrees with Aaron Bady that MOOCs "could be done well, I think, but it won’t be."  However, rather than identify and paint a pathway towards how it could be done right, he simply condemns the MOOCs and says that MOOCs are something that "no credit-­awarding university should tolerate."  

Whether it's MOOCs or some other use of instructional technology changing the standard way of things are to be questioned, but they are also to be considered for the ways in which they can improve current teaching and learning.  They are an active conversation happening on campuses across the world and Rees (at least in this article) appears to be saying, don't engage in the conversation.  Stick your head in the sand and wait till the threat passes.  I'm sure history abounds with examples of how well this strategy has worked.  

If Rees and others are truly concerned that the MOOC will create a poor product and potentially deprofessionalize instruction in higher education, then it's time to up the game.  If MOOCs are as true a threat as Rees wants us to think, then we better damn well have alternatives in place when administrators come knocking at our colleges looking to implement MOOCs for credit.  It then becomes our imperative to leverage technology, where professionally relevant, to improve and enhance the experiences of our students.  

In the next post, I intend to do just that: identify different ways we can enhance students experience, maintain professionalism, and save money.  In the end, I agree with Rees that we should be skeptical of new methods but that skepticism needs to be more than just disregard.  We have and create a lot of unnecessary roadblocks and tediousness for our students and as other colleges and alternative to colleges remove these roadblocks, we owe it to our students to make things more streamlined, accessible, and engaging.  



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Letter to the Editor: Don’t blame it all on the cellphone

Here's another letter to the editor published.  It's on texting while driving.  It's not my first one critiquing the discussion the texting while driving.  There was this first one published last year and this other one I had published a few months ago.

Letter to the Editor at Salem News:

"Two letters begged readers to take the pledge not to text while driving. They tell us things like, 'There is nothing more tragic than a death caused by texting while driving.' Really? We can’t imagine bigger tragedies? Let’s use those smartphones (while parked, of course) to find innumerable daily events that are indeed 'more tragic.'"

For reference to the two letters, I'm referring to, check out this link and this link.

For my full letter to the editor, click on through here.



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Letter to the Editor: Facebook isn't all sadness

Below is an excerpt of another letter to the editor.  It was written in response to Mary Alice Cookson's column, "Does Facebook cause unhappiness?"  We can all guess that my answer was largely no, but for more details, see below.

Facebook Like Icon - Source: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7109/8155062740_bc01aca686_z.jpg
"Here’s a bit of news you’ll either “like” or not depending on your point of view: A recent study links Facebook use to unhappiness.

The study by researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 82 young adults over a two-week period, sending them text messages five times a day asking how they were feeling and how much time they’d spent on Facebook since the previous text. And guess what? The researchers correlated increased time spent on Facebook to a drop in mood."

To read the rest of the letter, click on through to the Salem News website.  And since I'm on the topic of Facebook, have you "liked" my Facebook Page?  Now's a perfect time hit the "Like" button and get the latest updates on your Facebook feed.



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Letter to the Editor: Salem News

Here's another letter to the editor in the Salem News:

To the editor:

Brian Watson is correct that technology may not be neutral (”Online technology is not neutral,” Aug. 1). But it’s too bad he doesn’t push his analysis of “The Diagnosis” any further than a plot summary and offering a weak implication that we are under a threat by “private corporations.” He can quickly point out problems (”we increasingly rely on computers, increasingly replace humans with various ‘smart’ technologies, increasingly live online and increasingly replace live experiences with virtual or mediated ones”) but fails to show us what drives this non-neutral technology. We learn the protagonist of the novel deals with “incessant phone use, nonstop emailing and texting, constant access to a computer, reduced personal life, inadequate sleep, and above all, frenzied deal-making.” Also, we learn that “He feels that everything is rushed and that everything is computerized and that interpersonal relations have become less important than machines, technological progress and being online.”

For the rest of the letter, click on through.



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Letter to the Editor: Don't scapegoat drivers who text

So here is another letter to the editor--this one is about texting and enforcement.  It's in response to this editorial on June 10 in the Salem News.

"To the editor:

The Salem News is all cheers for “tough enforcement” against “texters” and all other “erratic drivers,” but in reality, they can’t help but fixate on those cellphone users. They are scapegoating cellphone users. For whatever reason, people want to rally against emergent cultural artifacts rendered possible through technology. The same thing happened with film, radio, comic books, video games, etc. They simply don’t get it, and rather than understand it, they attack it."

To read the rest at the Salem News, click on through.



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What Social Media Has Taught Me About Sensitivity and Respect

Following up on my post about the Boston Marathon bombing and even other posts where I discuss my positive experience with social media, I have been thinking about the fact that social media has made me more sensitive and reflective.  So often I hear people discuss social media as a dehumanizing and vampiric tool on human sensitivity and respect.  The anonymity and distance from one another allows us to be mean without consideration of the impact.  Just do a quick Google search on the latest obnoxious, racist, sexist, and mean things flowing out of the internet and this justifies as proof-positive that the internet is a cesspool of despicable peoples.    At least that's how the argument goes.

But I find it's quite different for me.  I'm increasingly sensitive to what I'm saying, posting, commenting upon, and interacting with online.  That's not to say I'm censoring what I say or refraining from speaking, but I'm more deliberate in what I have to say and I'm likely to vet it more before posting.  Even on Twitter, I think more critically about my use of 140 characters.  I'm still critical and challenge things that I find problematic or dubious, but the ways in which I challenge them are increasingly more restrained.

I find myself doing this for a few reasons.  The first is the fact that because of digital technology, anything can be captured and recapitulated into the larger world in mere moments and I will largely have little say of whether that something of mine is deep and respectful or obnoxious and insulting.  Also, at the end of the day, I want my digital identity to correspond with and reflect my physical identity (or at least my conception of it).   Another reason is that I find much richer and rewarding conversations and dialogue when I post with respect than when I don't.  I make more friends and connections.  I learn more about myself and others.  I get a slice of that human need for dialogue.

I've also realized that aggressive arguing, attacking, and insulting doesn't suit me.  I would rather not be up half the night in such debates like the meme below.  I can easily get an awful sense of indignation and righteousness--that's not hard at all for many of us given the right topic and the wrong comment.  But I find little or no value in dispensing my wrath through social media.  Largely, because it doesn't dispense itself but just sits there waiting to collide into someone else and begin nothing productive but a virtual yelling match between two people.  That is, anger just festers.
http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6067/6027755162_87e38e4708.jpg
We often do this; and yet never feel better.

But the internet and social media feel less and less like an nebulous, anonymous, and potentially hostile environment to me and more and more like a very large room with the capacity for people to hear everything that you may say.  This enormous, ongoing, cross-cultural, trans-generational conversation puts me in contact with many other people in many different places (geographically, politically, spiritually, sexually, etc).  Slowly but surely, the conversations that I've hopped into with more callousness or sense of right have only reminded me of the multiplicity of understanding and process in the world.  In plain, it's shown me time and again that I'm wrong in many different, humbling, and wonderful ways.  Thus in moving forward, I increasingly try to step back before stepping forward.

So where is all of this coming from?  Last week, I heard about the major explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas as it was being reported; it is another tragedy in the unfolding like the Boston Marathon bombing earlier that week.  Upon first hearing it, a host of quips came to mind--none of which were appropriate, but did capitalize on the intersection of fertilizer and explosion.  I have no doubt Twitter and the like are inundated with such quips and off remarks.  I could have easily tossed out a bunch of them, but I realized I didn't want to.  Sure, someone might laugh but it would be at the expense of real people.  People that I'm likely to find out in some way, shape, or form, I am connected to--and who even if I'm not connected to, I'm likely to read about their stories, lives, and experiences from a variety of writers and creators on the internet.  This is what I mean by the large room.  We become much more aware of how closely we are connected and that means we're more connected to events even when they are afar.  We see the human element of the event more and more because it's a quick check of our various social networks to get a sense of who it has reached.  We're increasingly in those networks of connection.  

Thus, more and more, when I prepare to hit the send, tweet, publish, or post button, I'm more likely to think much more about who will read this and how will impact them.  How can I communicate my thoughts and ideas in a way that will effect them without insulting or aggravating them.  I think it has made me a better communicator in many ways and have seen direct and indirect indicators of this.  It's also made my life richer and more enjoyable.

To be clear--I'm no saint in this regard.  I still slip into a more antagonistic role in social media at times.  Though I find it interesting that I'm likely to do that with people that I've known 10 years or longer--slipping into previously established scripts and roles--but for most people whom I know from adulthood and may have never met face to face, I find that I try to maintain a mutual respect, regardless of differences.  It's not an all or nothing and I think there is a learning curve involved.

I think it's also that social media brings to our attention the ways that we are in our day to day lives that we miss or don't necessarily see--but can actually follow in through looking at a week's or month's worth of posts and comments on a social media site we favor.  This opportunity to capture how we interact and be able to examine and study it is something I don't think we really have done well in our day to day lives.  Our conversations, interactions, and gestures are fleeting and thus deny the opportunity to fully study and understand.  Yet, social media has helped me understand what it is that I do and how it is when I interact with people (for good and for bad).  And that is a fascinating opportunity to get a more defined sense of who I am.

I write this, like I write so many other things, because I believe there are many more like me and who have yet to put pen to pad (or fingers to keys) but still find what I have to say resonating with their own experience.  If that is the case, please speak up in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@leaton) or elsewhere on social media.  I would love to know that I'm not the only one out there finding that social media is informing and improving our sensitivity.



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Yes--That's Sexist and Yes, I Have to Call You on It

So right on the heels of my Letter to the Editor, I also have this to say (though, I wrote this before the letter to the editor came out and had to reschedule its release here).

I have a rather undeveloped policy about how I deal with things I take issue with on Facebook or other social media in which I am connected to people.  What little I understand of it though is that it starts with the assumption that if a person has chosen to virtually connect with me, then they have chosen to accept the fact that I am an active user of social media who seeks out conversation and meaning.  By accepting or requesting and continuing said connection, they recognize that I'm likely to engage with those things that grab my attention and to which I have some knowledge and/or stake in the conversation (and granted sometimes I have too much of latter without enough of the former--but that's a post for another time).

So when someone I'm connected with on Facebook, posted the following.  It certainly got me a wee bit angered and ready to say something.  In fact, it annoyed me enough to write a blog post about it.



Oh the many things wrong with this.  Particularly, because it was created on or around March 27/28 and it comes in the aftermath of the Stuebenville rape conviction and the various backlashes.   The many, many, many things wrong with this.  So much of this wreaks of a moral technopanic about the nature of women's behavior in public which is always easier than considering the role of the men or the system at large.

Of "Girls" and Men
So language is always an interesting thing to study and this meme is no different.  The women are all girls--even those who are married.  It may be a small or irrelevant point--obviously the page (IM So Fuckin High I can't even see u--clearly a page for chauvinistic, sexist, racist and other mad hattery) wasn't looking to be deep in any regard, but it does illustrate a disregard for women in our culture (fostered more by the 22,000+ likes and additional 1700+ shares).

A History Lesson.
I find the faux history most amazing and misinformed.  The idea of women as purely pristine and pure has never really jived with the actual history of sex, if anyone who has taken the time to study the history of sex will tell you.  In fact, the later half of the 1800s was a hotbed of sexiness with sex and sexual acts happening everywhere from dancehalls to brothels to saloons.

It annoys me when people level the supposed morals of the past to lay judgment on the present.  In most cases, these morals were nothing but myths to begin with.  It's like finding speed limit signs 100 years from now and deducing that people never drove over the speed limit--when in fact--we almost all do.

If we were to look at the late 19th century, we find that New York City had hundreds of brothels and brothels were also found in the West .  And the dance halls were filled with women exchanging drinks and gifts for favors--yes, sometimes of the sexual kind.

That's not to applaud what for many was a "choice" that wasn't a real choice (i.e. do this for survival's sake--one's own or family and loved ones) but it's to acknowledge that women were not the bastions of morality that we pretend they were.  That mentality (women's past purity or women's declining morality) contributes to continued sexism and mistreatment.  It first upholds women to traits and ideals that were never entirely true in the first place (and to which we never believe or feel that men can live up to) while also allowing for further shaming of women--another form of power and control.  That much of this is done by or for men without men having to adhere to the same spurious morals, only further illustrates the coercive power of patriarchy.

The statement that "In 1995: Girls Got Undressed for Money" is very curious and another play at shaming.  In all likelihood this is a reference to the Girls Gone Wild series (that's a link to Wikipedia-not to the actual site--and they state GGW started in 1997). But here again, the language is suggestive.  Women have been accepting money for getting undressed for thousands of years as there is ample evidence of temple prostitutes going back to the ancient world.  If the claim meant accepting money to take clothes off for a camera, they would still be wrong.  Women undressing for cash and the camera is something too that is over 100 years old.  Thus "girls" takes on a further meaning.  Girls in this sense are supposed to mean "good girls" to which prostitutes, strippers and other sex workers clearly do not fall into.  The judgment upon women to maintain their "girl" status clearly coincides with the ways in which they act as sexual beings.  Their state of undress is only for the male who (in 1880s parlance) owns her.

Facepalm indeed.
It's telling the that the last panel is a man in a state of disappointment.  First, because it seems that the meme-maker couldn't find a woman offering up herself in a state of undress on Facebook.  But also, that it gives away the bigger lie.  We put this expectation upon women, but in the end, it's typically men (or mayhaps we should use the term, "boys") that are encouraging, demanding and condemning it.  There's the perversity of it--the women are judged by the same sources of those who make the demands.  The ideas of Mulvey's "male gaze" are still relevant.

But It's Just a Joke
It's easy to shrug this off as a goofy internet meme in poor taste and saying I'm looking too much into it--take it too "literally" as the person who posted it said below.  But all memes are not the same and this one I found a bit caustic.  That we can shrug it off so easily as it so grossly represents truth, and plays into the ideas of a demoralizing society brought to us by technology and whose responsibility is placed upon women to uphold is utter rubbish.  Technology nor women contribute to the decline of society (and I continued to revoke the idea that society is in moral freefall).  If you think the moral decay of society is real, I would encourage you to read The Better Nature of Our Angels by Stephen Pinker (his TED Talk only scratches the surface) and significantly reduce the amount of "news" you watch.






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Recent Letter to the Editor: Columnist ignored country's 'rape culture'

This letter to the editor was motivated by the Salem News' column by Brian Watson's Ohio rape case indicts social media.  A technopanic shift in the conversation away from the actual criminals to blaming the technology.

"Brian Watson’s exploration of the Steubenville rape case (“Ohio rape case indicts social media,” March 28) is riddled with problems. Never mind he cannot bring himself to say the teens raped the young victim (their “crime was to sexually molest”), he described it as merely “wrongful behavior” and that the use of social media “compound(ed) the damage” like this was a mere car accident. The passivity he assigns to the perpetrators speaks volumes: “a video of the incident was uploaded” and 'the two young perpetrators were influenced and encouraged.'"

For the full letter, check out the Salem News.



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Anti-Tech Articles--Not a Fan

Recently,  WBUR ran a selection of articles on what it calls "Digital Lives."  The series thus far covers relationships, video games, and multi-tasking.  The series as a whole is of course playing upon fears and leaving one with more fear than substantive tools and ideas about how to live a digital life.  I'm going to focus on the multi-tasking one as prompted by a peer of mine, but needless to say all of the articles feel superficial and fearmongering than productive to having an in-depth discussion.  For instance, the video-games article spends much of the discussion on the antiquated concerns around video games and violence and only so very briefly talks about the benefits of videogames (almost as an afterthought).  And any article on video games in our culture that doesn't mention the likes of Jane McGonigal or Tom Chatfield are ones that have been poorly researched.

So 10 Reasons why the multi-tasking article annoyed me:

1.  I'm always dubious by a media outlet that uses all the various forms of media (including several forms of electronic media) to tell us how dangerous digital media is.  They present an article that is filled with links (i.e. distractions) that include text, tests, and video as well as a slew of distractions surrounding the article--ads and additional links.  Clearly, if they believed in the truthiness of their words, they wouldn't engage in the same distracting-generating machinations.

2.  Peter Sagal is held up as some kind of important person to consult or worth consulting about this.  Why is a game-show radio host the go-to person about digital media and multi-tasking?    Does that mean I can qualify Marc Summers (host of Nickelodeon's Double Dare game show) as a military consultant for a discussion on the risks involved with further involvement in the Middle East?

3.  Eyal Ophir as a consultant is equally dubious since much of his suggestions are focused on directing digital interaction as a new experience or different experience than what it is now (and he just so happens to be working for a company that is trying to reinvent the browser--that is, his recommendations are directing readers to believe his product is relevant).

4.  No real mention of evidence or counter points that have been made to the arguments about multi-tasking (e.g. Brian Chen in his book Always On rips large holes in the research).

5.  No clear definition of what multi-tasking is or acknowledge that we regularly are multitasking successfully. The closest they get is "multiasking is believing that we can think about several things at once."  Qualifying "think" is problematic and ill-defined.  I can cook and listen to an audiobook at the same time; I can run on a treadmill and watch a movie at the same time.  Hell, I can even walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time--all of which requires conscious action and thought to some degree.  We drive and talk to someone in the car regularly.

6.  The metaphor of the brain as computer (using "working memory") is ironic, because of course, computers can do multiple things at the same time (look at the bottom of your screen--how many programs do you have open).

7.  The primacy of conscious thinking for creativity, deep thoughts, etc is a bit problematic too since the subconscious also works substantively to push us to that level.  There's much to be said about how our subconscious gives space for ideas to develop and equally important as Steven Johnson points out in his book, Where Good Ideas Come From, a good amount of creativity is also generated from engagement and interaction with others (e.g. this post was generated by an interaction with a peer).

8.  "A recent study, No A 4 U, shows that students who use Facebook or email even as they do their homework earn lower grades than those who don’t."  The study is correlation; not causation--which could easily mean those students were predisposed to do poorly in those classes and give over to using social media (and in the absence of social media might do just as bad).

9.  The "landmark study" that they promote--assumed properties but did not actually measure or assess the kind of multi-tasking we're talking about.  It had participants looking at blue and red rectangles on a screen and changing them about and the participant had to register only the correct color (red) as both red and blue changed.  This may be a type of multi-tasking but it is seriously decontextualize from the multi-tasking we're talking about and very much a different beast.  Asking someone to engage with a foreign screen and play a game they are not likely to have played before--is not the same on a physical or conscious level to what someone does when they are absorbed in their screen.  That's like assessing someone's cooking skills by putting them  in the bathroom and giving them a random assortment of ingredients...as opposed to their own kitchens with their own supplies.

10.  They anthropomorphize technology ("Technology has brought us all of these amazing rivers of news and updates and communication. But Ophir says technology is doing a terrible job of filtering out what’s irrelevant, or knowing the best time to show you what you do want to see.") as if they themselves (the writers, editors, producers, companies) have no connection to what's going on and why there are some many distractions vying for our attention (going back to point #1).  Furthermore, we have the tools within the technology to better use it and less distract it--more tools aren't necessarily needed.

There's always more to say on the topic, but I thought I'd get my initial response out first and go from there.  At the end of the day, I want us to be critical of technology and its uses, but with that criticism should also come guidance, purpose, and a balance of viewpoints.  Too often we're reacting like we've unleashed Frankenstein's monster; of course, just like Frankenstein, if we took more care and consideration with the monster, foreboding disaster might not actually be around the corner.



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