Saturday, December 11, 2010

Golden langur: Information Technology & Society Textbook?, World University and School BEST Textbooks

Information Technology and Society transcript

11 December 2010

Harvard's virtual island in Second Life

Last class

Textbooks, World University and School, Information Technology and Society

[11:00] Connecting to in-world Voice Chat...
[11:00] Connected
[11:00] Roman Takacs: Aloah !
[11:00] Roman Takacs: Aloha !
[11:00] Aphilo Aarde: Aloha, Roman!
[11:00] Aphilo Aarde: What are some of the best textbooks you've ever read?
[11:01] Roman Takacs: Been reading FP (Foreign Policy) top 100 "global thinkers"
[11:01] Aphilo Aarde: Textbooks are astounding condensations of information, but I also associated them with being boring, somehow.
[11:01] Roman Takacs: Text Book:
[11:01] Roman Takacs: (1) Fermi's Notes on Nuclear Physics (?title)
[11:01] Roman Takacs: - they were hand written and photo reproduced
[11:01] Aphilo Aarde: I found Manuel Castells to be a fascinating global thinker
[11:02] Aphilo Aarde: Notes ... ok
[11:02] Roman Takacs: MC gave me a headache !
[11:02] Roman Takacs: But generally, I don't like textbooks ...
[11:02] Roman Takacs: though I was a TA in a course that was developing a good text :)
[11:03] Aphilo Aarde: And yet they're efficient
[11:03] Roman Takacs: "Harvard Project Physics" ... a history of science and technology approach to physics ...
[11:03] Aphilo Aarde: Recently, I found a grading of Economics' text books ...
[11:03] Roman Takacs: I'm wondering if, now a days, wikipedia could replace them ...
[11:03] Roman Takacs: or the Kahn Academy
[11:04] Aphilo Aarde: I added the 3 at the top of the list to World University and School's Economics' page here:
[11:04] Roman Takacs: Or a "wiki course notes" document ... each course creating a textbook that suits their own needs.
[11:04] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:04] Aphilo Aarde: Good question about wikipedia ... and what great examples of wiki textbooks are
[11:05] Roman Takacs: (2) unremembered author, "Applied Mathematics for Science and Engineering" ... thick, but well written.
[11:05] Roman Takacs: (3) Churchill;s, Complex Variables.. VERY short, but easy to work with.
[11:05] Aphilo Aarde: And how one might improve on the important condensed, focused knowledge aspect
[11:05] Aphilo Aarde: but rewrite the 'boring' aspect ...
[11:05] Aphilo Aarde: why do you find textbooks boring, Roman?
[11:06] Aphilo Aarde: Applied Mathematics :)
[11:06] Aphilo Aarde: There's a video game of the immune system
[11:06] Roman Takacs: We used to have a "Computing Across the Curriculum" conference in the early 90s. Best idea was a graduate student seminar that focused on writing the "text" for the next year's students.
[11:06] Aphilo Aarde: made by the federation of American Scientists
[11:07] Roman Takacs: Text books are booring because ... "too much text" !
[11:07] Aphilo Aarde: which is a fascinating amalgam of genre's - it's for the high school level -
[11:07] Roman Takacs: (and badly written text doesn't help!)
[11:07] Aphilo Aarde: but, while not wiki, could become the basis of a text book
[11:07] Aphilo Aarde: :) perhaps ... yet books that capture me ... Henry Fieldings, Tom Jones - a masterpiece of a comic novel
[11:08] Aphilo Aarde: are also too wordy ... in some sense ... but the narrative is so compelling ... and so funny ...
[11:08] Aphilo Aarde: The web is great because it's interactive ...
[11:08] Aphilo Aarde: but if an 18 year old, who might become a neurosurgeon, doesn't learn the material,
[11:08] Roman Takacs: (4) Not sure if they qualify as texts, but at Berkeley, I had a Chaucer and Shakespeare course that used the Riverside texts. ....
[11:08] Aphilo Aarde: I don't want him cutting away ...
[11:09] Aphilo Aarde: and textbooks impart material ...
[11:09] Roman Takacs: BUT ..
[11:09] Roman Takacs: THe medical education model is (1) watch one, (2) do one, (3) teach one ... !
[11:09] Aphilo Aarde: yet as the Economics grade report by Baumann (also an Economics' standup comic) - also on the
[11:09] Roman Takacs: It doesn't come from a book.
[11:09] Roman Takacs: (The book is basically a "glossary" !)
[11:10] Aphilo Aarde: WUaS page - all textbooks are not the same, when it comes to global warming, for example, which
[11:10] Aphilo Aarde: is what the grading was about
[11:10] Roman Takacs: (You make me want to run to wikipedia, find an entry on "prefrontal lobotomy" and the the :how tow version :)
[11:10] Aphilo Aarde: How to review great textbooks and build on those ...
[11:10] Roman Takacs: Key point. All text books are not the same.
[11:10] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:10] Roman Takacs: Indeed.
[11:10] Roman Takacs: Neither are students.
[11:11] Roman Takacs: Neither are subjects.
[11:11] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:11] Roman Takacs: A section on prefrontal lobotomies would be very different than one on radical masectomies ...
[11:11] Aphilo Aarde: Here's the grading report by Yoram Bauman, on Greg Mankiw's blog (who teaches Harvard Freshman Ec 10)
[11:12] Aphilo Aarde: Yet, I suspect that we might agree that even great text books such as Har
[11:12] Aphilo Aarde: those above, might be boring ...
[11:12] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:12] Roman Takacs: That's a nice example ... how many economic texts even talk about "the envirnmment" (isnt that an "externality" - it was when I had economics ::) :) )
[11:13] Roman Takacs: I never used it, but my sociology friends recommend C. Wright Mill's .. can't remember the title ...
[11:13] Aphilo Aarde: too condensed knowledge ... Reed College (where I and Bauman went) emphasizes primary texts in its required Freshman Humanities course
[11:13] Aphilo Aarde: - no text book there - and reading scientific papers ... (science courses at Reed use textbooks, I suspect)
[11:14] Roman Takacs: As I recall at Cal, only the math and science courses used "text books" ...
[11:14] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, the environment is an externality ...
[11:14] Roman Takacs: all others had 10 paperbacks !
[11:14] Aphilo Aarde: Don't know Mill's textbook ... but latest versions are also important
[11:14] Aphilo Aarde: in textbooks - they improve ... but not necessarily by becoming less boring
[11:15] Roman Takacs: Or, more insightful ...
[11:15] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:15] Aphilo Aarde: Here's the courses' section on the COURSES page at WUaS
[11:16] Aphilo Aarde: see John Palfrey's et als. course on Copyright ... a wiki source
[11:16] Roman Takacs: The nice thing about a "text" rather than "textbook" is, perhaps, a sense of voice ...(author's )
[11:16] Aphilo Aarde: I can see this as the beginning of a wiki text book
[11:17] Aphilo Aarde: that will grow, and will be improved by multiple authors ...
[11:17] Aphilo Aarde: although it isn't explicitly a textbooks, and the subject might be voring for some
[11:17] Aphilo Aarde: I agree about voice, Roman ...
[11:18] Aphilo Aarde: Which textbooks can we point to that retain an academic's voice
[11:18] Aphilo Aarde: Greg Mankiw's is one ...
[11:18] Aphilo Aarde: but this isn't wiki, of course
[11:18] Aphilo Aarde: And I see advantages to wiki, in multiple ways ... as group production
[11:19] Aphilo Aarde: of knowledge ... how to focus such voices in way that's sings?
[11:19] Aphilo Aarde: as textbook ...
[11:19] Aphilo Aarde: And then cultivating students who love textbooks, and are very focused as students,
[11:20] Aphilo Aarde: consuming knowledge, in a sense, is another way to lessen the 'boring' aspects of textbooks ...
[11:20] Aphilo Aarde: which condensed knowledge aspect is incomparable
[11:20] Aphilo Aarde: Of all the textbooks you've mentioned, which stand out?
[11:20] Roman Takacs: The textbook genre tends to favor "voicelessness" ... or perhaps replace "voice" with "authority" (THIS is the TRUTH. Memorize it for the exam!)
[11:21] Aphilo Aarde: and in the name of accuracy, as well ...
[11:21] Roman Takacs: Only the Fermi really stands out.
[11:21] Aphilo Aarde: textbooks have authority ... they cost $150 each, because they are right ... and you can become a medical doctor with them ...
[11:21] Roman Takacs: The text itself was the notes he lectured from.
[11:22] Aphilo Aarde: Voice is great ... I'll have a closer look at Greg Mankiw's economic's textbook
[11:22] Roman Takacs: I;m from Vermont ... our state motto is "question authority" :)
[11:22] Roman Takacs: (#berniesanders!)
[11:22] Aphilo Aarde: - maybe even sit in on his course -
[11:22] Aphilo Aarde: he identifies as a conservative, however -
[11:23] Aphilo Aarde: so voice comes in this case, with politics
[11:23] Aphilo Aarde: (Bernie Sanders ! :)
[11:23] Roman Takacs: (All academics are. It comes with being a technically honed bureaucrat :) )
[11:23] Aphilo Aarde: perhaps ...
[11:23] Aphilo Aarde: ok ... so I suspect that Mankiw's 5th edition economics' text book
[11:24] Aphilo Aarde: is excellent, possibly boring for some, and that we might find equally excellent textbooks
[11:24] Roman Takacs: The old neurons worked ... C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination ...
[11:24] Aphilo Aarde: which are also radical ...
[11:24] Aphilo Aarde: great ... Betty Reid Mandell's Social Work text book might be one such text ...
[11:25] Roman Takacs: Mills approaches "sociology" as a method of study, not as the results of "research" ...
[11:25] Roman Takacs: (so i gather)
[11:25] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:26] Aphilo Aarde: An Introduction to Human Services: Policy and Practice (5th Edition)
[11:26] Aphilo Aarde: still possibly boring though ... due to the limitations of modernity ?
[11:26] Roman Takacs: Is it "sociology" or is it "politics" ...
[11:26] Aphilo Aarde: of finding jobs in modern economies
[11:26] Roman Takacs: "Human Services" where ? when ?
[11:27] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:27] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:27] Aphilo Aarde: Classics, though, are different from text books ... and Betty wants her students to get jobs and readers to understand the limitations of the system
[11:28] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:29] Aphilo Aarde: I need to listen to The Sociological Imagination ...
[11:29] Aphilo Aarde: I think the wiki for this course
[11:29] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:29] Aphilo Aarde: not that
[11:29] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:30] Aphilo Aarde: could become the basis for a 'text book' for Information Technology Revolution and Society
[11:30] Roman Takacs: (I used to teach Physics ... the idea that my course would really help you get a job was seldom an issue :) )
[11:30] Aphilo Aarde: drawing on
[11:30] Roman Takacs: (I advertised it as making you a better human being :) )
[11:30] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:30] Aphilo Aarde: critical thinking in any discipline may help with sociality and becoming a better human being
[11:31] Aphilo Aarde: because you talk with other smart people and begin to share norms ...
[11:31] Roman Takacs: (Going out on a warm night with a bottle of wine, a blanket, and watching the stars, satellites, etc, and being able to say "hey, it's just gravity !")
[11:32] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:32] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:32] Roman Takacs: Your definition sounds very much like a classical new england liberal arts approach !
[11:32] Roman Takacs: (a good thing !)
[11:32] Aphilo Aarde: Here you'll find Immune Attack
[11:32] Aphilo Aarde: by the Federation of American Scientists
[11:32] Aphilo Aarde: a video game on the immune system ...
[11:32] Aphilo Aarde: could this become the basis for a video game text book
[11:33] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:34] Aphilo Aarde: How to think around the classical new england liberal arts' approach ... drawing on learning traditions which have success and a history?
[11:34] Aphilo Aarde: Sweden? ... perhaps too structured
[11:34] Aphilo Aarde: and the 'social sciences' are a unique discipline
[11:35] Aphilo Aarde: So
[11:35] Aphilo Aarde: in this course we ask
[11:35] Roman Takacs: At least in my experiences, which were generally in the "general education track", the essense was the somewhat unstructured seminar sequence.
[11:35] Aphilo Aarde: What is Information Technology?
[11:35] Aphilo Aarde: What came about?
[11:35] Aphilo Aarde: Who did it?
[11:36] Roman Takacs: (1) What is Technology
[11:36] Aphilo Aarde: What is its history (occluding the history of the internet)?
[11:36] Aphilo Aarde: Where did the IT revolution occur - its geography?
[11:36] Aphilo Aarde: What has been the process of diffusion into the economy and society?
[11:37] Aphilo Aarde: And we looked at main features of the historical development of information technology to broader society and economic trends.
[11:37] Aphilo Aarde: So, technology, as we defined it in this course -
[11:37] Aphilo Aarde: - in a text book, too -
[11:38] Aphilo Aarde: is the use of scientific knowledge to specify ways of doing t hings in a reproducible manner.
[11:38] Roman Takacs: The text book is an "information technnology"
[11:38] Roman Takacs: So is the "classroom"
[11:38] Aphilo Aarde: Yes ... and yes
[11:38] Roman Takacs: So is the "lecture"
[11:38] Aphilo Aarde: So how to bring them all together ...
[11:38] Aphilo Aarde: yes ...
[11:39] Aphilo Aarde: It's the interactivity of virtual worlds that allows for creativity ...
[11:39] Roman Takacs: Without invoking, perhaps, "a theory of everything explaining nothing" :)
[11:39] Aphilo Aarde: and lessens boredom, compared with textbooks
[11:39] Aphilo Aarde: Schools, however, test ... - creating all kinds of pressures in modernity - and textbooks
[11:40] Aphilo Aarde: are geared toward testing, too ... taking the 'flow' out of conversations about serious ideas
[11:40] Aphilo Aarde: in my experience ...
[11:40] Roman Takacs: Would anyone read a textbook outside of a class ?
[11:40] Roman Takacs: classroom ?
[11:40] Aphilo Aarde: yet, I want any hypothetical medical student coming out of World University and School
[11:41] Aphilo Aarde: to know the material ... and tests are useful there
[11:41] Roman Takacs: I recall a conversation once with a prof from Kenya who had asked his dean "why do we have lectures?" and the answer was "because books are expensive."
[11:41] Aphilo Aarde: Good question ... have you ever read a text book out of class?
[11:41] Roman Takacs: (late 70s)
[11:41] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:42] Roman Takacs: Tried once to read Salvador Luria's Biology ... got about 4 pages into it :)
[11:42] Aphilo Aarde: I see textbooks, too, as a kind of program ... computer program, even ...
[11:42] Aphilo Aarde: and efficient ones ...
[11:42] Aphilo Aarde: for student learning ... but still boring for some of us primates in modernity
[11:43] Aphilo Aarde: Interesting ... I enjoyed Peter Raven's Plant Biology ... but
[11:43] Roman Takacs: It was the standard "top down" (or is it "bottom up") approach. To understand biology we have to understand the carbon atom .model of though. HEY, I want to see some weird animals !
[11:43] Aphilo Aarde: it was for a class on Plant Evolution
[11:43] Aphilo Aarde: not outside of class
[11:43] Aphilo Aarde: I picked up Conrad Kottak's
[11:44] Roman Takacs: My favorite biology texts were Fowlers "Field Book of Natural History" (with 10 pages on Homo sapiens)
[11:44] Aphilo Aarde: Anthropology textbook ... and read some
[11:44] Aphilo Aarde: it's one of the best syntheses of contemporary anthropological thinking
[11:44] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:44] Aphilo Aarde: added it to the WUaS Anthropology textbooks's
[11:45] Aphilo Aarde: section
[11:45] Aphilo Aarde: and then came across
[11:45] Roman Takacs: My UC anthro course had 3 paperback "studies" (Cheyenne, Taureg, ....) and 3 case studies from the profs own research ...
[11:45] Aphilo Aarde: Carol Delaney's anthropology text
[11:45] Aphilo Aarde: used at MIT
[11:45] Aphilo Aarde:
[11:45] Aphilo Aarde: that was reportedly more experiential, so I added this one, too
[11:46] Roman Takacs: The prof lectured from his "field notes" ...
[11:46] Aphilo Aarde: Taussig?
[11:46] Aphilo Aarde: I find a well structured class invaluable ... field notes aren't that ...
[11:46] Roman Takacs: (The northern african nomads from just south of the sahara ...)
[11:46] Roman Takacs: He usef field notes and reflections on them ...
[11:46] Aphilo Aarde: But I think Delaney's approach of experientiality ... in anthropology possibly important in text book making ...
[11:47] Roman Takacs: So bacic concepts were more or less repeated six times in the course, in differnet settings.
[11:47] Aphilo Aarde: Often, introduction anthropology classes use readers, or primary texts (at Reed, for example).
[11:47] Aphilo Aarde: interesting ...
[11:47] Roman Takacs: Each example was a "whole course".
[11:47] Roman Takacs: Think like kinship, myth, etc ...
[11:48] Roman Takacs: He was like the only prof who had mobs of students coming up at the end of class with questions, etc ...
[11:48] Aphilo Aarde: Anthropology has changed a lot through the years ... epistemologically, it's interesting as an academic discipline
[11:48] Aphilo Aarde: returning again and again to a trajectory of questions emerging from over a century
[11:48] Roman Takacs: Are you on the Media Anthropology List ?
[11:49] Aphilo Aarde: ... can be very engaging :)
[11:49] Aphilo Aarde: and charismatic profs make a difference ... what was his name?
[11:49] Aphilo Aarde: I am ... and see your postings from time to time
[11:50] Roman Takacs: I keep thinking it was "Brown" ...
[11:50] Aphilo Aarde: A professors personal interest in their discipline can be a very contagious meme
[11:50] Roman Takacs: ... which seems to be the default name for the profs I gnerally found interesting :)
[11:50] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:51] Aphilo Aarde: I found Castells' course at Cal 10 years ago on the IT revolution captivating and riveting ...
[11:51] Roman Takacs: Besides the 2 midterms and final, we had to do a "field study" paper. I didn one on "marriage patterns in Oakland California"
[11:51] Aphilo Aarde: how to turn this skill in analysis, narrative, timeliness and topicality into a textbook ...
[11:51] Aphilo Aarde: do you still have the paper?
[11:51] Roman Takacs: (ANd compared them to S.F. Using the Oakland Tribune versus SF Chronicle marriage reports"
[11:52] Aphilo Aarde: great subject ...
[11:52] Roman Takacs: No, paper was tossed !
[11:53] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:53] Aphilo Aarde: Paper writing ... as human output ... and way to learn ... and participate in a conversation ...
[11:53] Roman Takacs: Threre were like three themes (1) how the wedding was reported (media models), (2) who was getting married (wealthy versus ordinary), and (3) religion (SF was Catholic, Oakland was protestant !)
[11:54] Aphilo Aarde: human computers as input output .... can be invaluable ... how to make this process fun for those who find it tortuous
[11:54] Aphilo Aarde: is a question that parallels my/our questions about great textbooks?
[11:54] Roman Takacs: It would be fun to do it today, since one could get a bigger collection of articles, use wordle, etc ...
[11:55] Aphilo Aarde: Why not come out here, and do it on your own?
[11:55] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[11:55] Aphilo Aarde: agreed ...
[11:55] Roman Takacs: I like winter !
[11:55] Roman Takacs: I hate rain !
[11:55] Aphilo Aarde: I long for great students ... having had not great students ...
[11:55] Aphilo Aarde: is it possible to build richly on idea sharing as conversation ...
[11:55] Aphilo Aarde: with Stanford students ... ?
[11:56] Roman Takacs: Never had anything but great students !
[11:56] Aphilo Aarde: the weather isn't for you here :) ... it's so mild today :)
[11:56] Roman Takacs: (benefit of "liberal arts" colleges and "general education program" model )
[11:57] Roman Takacs: (the freshman seminar is a problem only because it should not be the exception ... it should be the rule for all courses !)
[11:57] Roman Takacs: (The p2pu model was intriguing for that reason ...)
[11:57] Aphilo Aarde: I think I'd find a difference between top 5 students (Stanford, MIT, H Y P) and other schools'
[11:57] Aphilo Aarde: World University and School
[11:58] Aphilo Aarde: - is open, wiki, and free -
[11:58] Roman Takacs: I taught at Franconia College ... basically an open admissions place ... if the student interviewed well (looked like they would do the work), we took em.
[11:58] Aphilo Aarde: but also focuses on great universities' open course ware
[11:58] Aphilo Aarde: here -
[11:58] Roman Takacs: What was scarey was that even ordinary kids became brilliant in that environment !
[11:58] Roman Takacs: no grades
[11:58] Roman Takacs: no required courses
[11:58] Aphilo Aarde: There are about 35 great universities
[11:58] Roman Takacs: all courses designed by students
[11:59] Aphilo Aarde: so cool, Roman
[11:59] Aphilo Aarde: Yes .. that sounds like 'culture' to me
[11:59] Roman Takacs: My first semested evaluation came through - from the students - "too didactic"
[11:59] Aphilo Aarde: Milieus are transformative
[11:59] Roman Takacs: Deans suggestion was "just sit there and listen"
[11:59] Aphilo Aarde: - viz. my Harbin actual / virtual ethnography
[11:59] Roman Takacs: If they want you to say something, they will ask !
[11:59] Roman Takacs: :)
[12:00] Roman Takacs: All of the questions would come in the cafeteria over some beers ...
[12:00] Roman Takacs: and generally had the pattern ... "i don't know but ..."
[12:01] Aphilo Aarde: By great students, I mean those who have met more sophisticated symbolic challenges in the aggregate at the high school and college level, than others ...
[12:01] Aphilo Aarde: ... does sound fun ...
[12:01] Roman Takacs: Our main job was to chat with the students and help them come up with a plan for next semester ...
[12:01] Aphilo Aarde: interesting ... the text book, on the other hand, is that plan ...
[12:01] Roman Takacs: Will Miller would be happy to explain to you the existential challenges of working at McDonalds !
[12:02] Aphilo Aarde: how to fly from the text book ... rif with the knowledge of Economics? or Fermi's notes?
[12:02] Roman Takacs: Fly with the "question" ...
[12:02] Aphilo Aarde: Can one provide the opportunities online, as MIT OCW seems to be doing,
[12:03] Aphilo Aarde: for people to have access to great academic resources at the college, and! high school levels ...
[12:03] Roman Takacs: I wonder about the OCW. The key to MIT is, I think, living in a dorm and drinking beer with smart kids !
[12:03] Aphilo Aarde: so that students can learn the calculus if they want to, even their home school is panning out ...
[12:03] Aphilo Aarde: an alternative, if needed ...
[12:04] Roman Takacs: At MIT, Cal, etc, the pressure is to study hard ....
[12:04] Roman Takacs: At WVU, the pressure is to drink hard ...
[12:04] Aphilo Aarde: The social aspect is so important ... but that's possible here in virtual worlds ... as I see it (not the same), but possibly better in some ways, even, and worse in others
[12:05] Aphilo Aarde: The pressure is there due to the challenge of learning at a relatively high level
[12:05] Roman Takacs: The other of "real life" schools is getting the kids out of the house/home.
[12:05] Aphilo Aarde: (how to make this fun, too)
[12:05] Roman Takacs: THey can't "change" in that fixed environment.
[12:05] Roman Takacs: The social roles are too rigid.
[12:06] Roman Takacs: (THere's an anthro thesis or two in that !)
[12:06] Aphilo Aarde: One definition of 'flow' - is an aborbed mind - and challenge at the right level ... also a definition of Enjoyment
[12:06] Aphilo Aarde: See Cskiszentmihalyi's (who studied enjoyment at the University of Chicago for 23 years)
[12:06] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:07] Aphilo Aarde: on the WUaS Happiness subject page
[12:07] Roman Takacs: Zen and the Art of The Final Exam !
[12:08] Aphilo Aarde: Place can't be changed ... or local school's milieu ... hence private schools ... but access to high quality learning materials ... and now in virtual worlds
[12:08] Aphilo Aarde: makes choice possible
[12:08] Aphilo Aarde: Thanks ... MIT OCW, Yale OYC, Berkeley Webcast, Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE)
[12:08] Aphilo Aarde: all on the above Universities' Course Listings list
[12:08] Roman Takacs: I'm not sure that the "quality" of paperbacks available in th 60s was that bad :)
[12:09] Roman Takacs: (Most of my learning came from pulp paperbacks in middle school and high school !)
[12:09] Aphilo Aarde: The 60s were wild ... but students are always freer than most others groups in society ...
[12:09] Roman Takacs: Iin the 50s!)
[12:09] Aphilo Aarde: And more paperbooks and web books are around than ever ...
[12:09] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[12:10] Roman Takacs: I wonder ...
[12:10] Roman Takacs: I grew up in California, Pennsylvania, Pop 2500 or so, back then.
[12:10] Roman Takacs: We had a paperback store down town, which was about 1/2 mile from home.
[12:10] Aphilo Aarde: bookstores are still around ...
[12:11] Roman Takacs: I could walk there. (Actually, I worked there, as a newpaper delivery boy).
[12:11] Aphilo Aarde: and some affluence to buy books ... we're lucky
[12:11] Roman Takacs: Bookstores are at the mall, etc ...
[12:11] Roman Takacs: Suburbia is not small town life ...
[12:11] Aphilo Aarde: and libraries ... it's very different in India, in China, Venezuela, Brazil ...
[12:12] Aphilo Aarde: (glad OLPC is around)
[12:13] Aphilo Aarde: So a milieu of books and information is important for learning ...
[12:14] Aphilo Aarde: for those who chsose to
[12:14] Roman Takacs: When I was at CAL, telegraph avenue had at least 4 bookstores , there were 2 more at north gate, 1 or 2 on shattuck, and one on campus ...
[12:14] Aphilo Aarde: Can we do this around the world with World University and School and on OLPCS, and the Google's Nexus S, (made by Samsung)?
[12:14] Roman Takacs: People used to "hang out" at bookstores ...
[12:15] Aphilo Aarde: Here's a recap of World University and School ...
[12:15] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:15] Roman Takacs: (FP divides the world into Kindle and iPad :) )
[12:15] Aphilo Aarde: it's main subjects ...
[12:15] Aphilo Aarde: hanging out in virtual world bookstores ... I've been to one here in SL ... not sure if its still around ...
[12:16] Aphilo Aarde: or an ancient Greek fora ... or San Francisco's Exploratorium in Second Life
[12:16] Aphilo Aarde: *forum ...
[12:17] Roman Takacs: I have a friend who has a nice book out called "Cappucino University" .... (Jerome Martin, Spotted Cow Press) ... free for downloading ... which discusses "third spaces" ...
[12:17] Aphilo Aarde: a community of idea exchange ... is great ... Reed is in a quiet suburban Portland neighborhood and, without sports' teams, attracts kids who are attracted to somewhat traditional academics, in a very free environment
[12:18] Aphilo Aarde: ideal for open idea exchange ... and not replicable in a virtual world, in nearly the same way
[12:18] Roman Takacs: One of the nice things about franconia was that it was very "non traditional" ... most of the entering freshmen were 21 or 22 ... not right out of high school !
[12:18] Aphilo Aarde: the 'conference table' in a virtual world allows, though, for 2 channels of communication ... and the need to stay focused to text and voice chat
[12:19] Roman Takacs: they had done military service, worked at jobs, just hung out ...
[12:19] Aphilo Aarde: Similarly to thinkiing about textbooks, I wonder how best to structure an undergraduate education at World University and School
[12:19] Roman Takacs: but those extra 2 or three years of "maturity" helped.
[12:19] Aphilo Aarde: with matriculating classes beginning in 2014
[12:20] Roman Takacs: ... have you ever dont a pechakucha on this ?
[12:20] Roman Takacs: done
[12:20] Aphilo Aarde: I have Reed in mind - with Freshman required humanities, a life of the mind, distribution requirements, and where everyone does a thesis
[12:21] Aphilo Aarde: Humanites focuses on the ancient Greek thought and intellectual trajectories ...
[12:21] Roman Takacs: - just don't offer a degree in "criminology" :)
[12:22] Aphilo Aarde: I think this liberal arts' approach benefits students, as much as some students might not like the requirements ...
[12:22] Aphilo Aarde: Reed's curriculum is a fair traditional academics, despite it being free socially ...
[12:22] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[12:22] Roman Takacs: liberal arts is a "process" not a "package"
[12:23] Aphilo Aarde: Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Sociology, Anthropology, Literatures, Theater, ... etc.
[12:23] Roman Takacs: there is nothing magical about the greeks ... you could just as easily study the chinese :)
[12:23] Aphilo Aarde: Yes ... it's social and last 4 years ...
[12:23] Roman Takacs: Just have one subject ... "humanities" ....
[12:24] Aphilo Aarde: There's a wholeness to the greeks ... and they started EVERYTHING democracy, math, philosophy, poetry, the academy, drama ...
[12:24] Roman Takacs: subsume everything into one department !
[12:24] Roman Takacs: (Did the greeks start "everything" ... or is the "everything" a roman bureaucratic response to it :)) )
[12:25] Aphilo Aarde: One thing an online, virtual world university would make possible, vis-a-vis MIT OCW, is to free up folks perhaps after the Freshman Humanities' course ... as a kind of group process ... to learn at their own speed,
[12:25] Aphilo Aarde: while incorporating the social benefits of classes, and group thinking along the way ...
[12:26] Aphilo Aarde: one step further away from academia based an agricultural calendar
[12:26] Aphilo Aarde: thanks MIT
[12:26] Roman Takacs: Are you familiar with the "International Bacculariate" program ?
[12:27] Aphilo Aarde: Romans came along with so much else ... but the intellectual foundations of the west, and knowledge, significantly come from the Greeks, I think ... Romans weren't quite so knowledge oriented
[12:27] Roman Takacs: Exactly .... the Romans made a mess of things ...
[12:27] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, I've been looking for
[12:27] Aphilo Aarde: a free I.B. education online ...
[12:27] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:27] Aphilo Aarde: It's listed here, too ...
[12:28] Roman Takacs: they kept the trappings but didn't get the point of it all !
[12:28] Aphilo Aarde: the closest I've found is MIT's High school material ...
[12:28] Aphilo Aarde: I.B. is international, however ...
[12:28] Roman Takacs: Canada, apparently, Switzerland, work on similar processes.
[12:29] Roman Takacs: "University" education is not "mass education" ...
[12:29] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:29] Aphilo Aarde: Hong Kong, too, has I.B. schools, and Singapore ...
[12:29] Roman Takacs: And is, more importanly, not always job oriented.
[12:30] Aphilo Aarde: So much of University education involves work with a few professors and, of course, the course work before ... reading those readers ...
[12:30] Aphilo Aarde: programming the mind ...
[12:30] Aphilo Aarde: MIT OCW and WUaS will change the University conversation worldwide
[12:30] Aphilo Aarde: due to making resources available. ..
[12:31] Aphilo Aarde: Agreed ... leanring 'knowledge' ... vis-a-vis Reed, for example ...
[12:31] Aphilo Aarde: is not about jobs ... although the modern University is big ... and jobs play a role in degree production apart from the
[12:32] Aphilo Aarde: ideal of knowledge learning apart for its own sake (Reed:)
[12:32] Roman Takacs: the "work with a few professors" is a core component of MIT .... and probably most "excellent" universities. (they are not about teaching, but about research / learning )
[12:32] Aphilo Aarde: Yes ... check out Stanford and Harvard's presidents recent article on making education available widely ...
[12:33] Aphilo Aarde: it's an issue for great universities as well .
[12:33] Roman Takacs: (the "jobs" function was explored in Illich's "Deschooling Society" ... the primary function of school being "certification", not "education")
[12:34] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[12:34] Aphilo Aarde: The Stanford Harvard presidents' article is at the bottom of this blog entry
[12:34] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:35] Roman Takacs: And I suspect that the big push in online education willl be more towards "certtification" rather than the humanities ...
[12:35] Aphilo Aarde: but I see jobs as a reality ... and desirable ... and World University and School would like to create great academic and knowledge jobs, if possible
[12:35] Aphilo Aarde: and on a large scale ...
[12:36] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, there are so many educational approaches online ... it's exciting ...
[12:36] Roman Takacs: Jobs ARE a reality. (or at least employment is).
[12:36] Aphilo Aarde: WUaS matriculating classes, some in 2014, will focus on 4 degrees BA, Law, M.D. and Ph.D.
[12:36] Roman Takacs: But are universities necessary for "jobs" ?
[12:38] Aphilo Aarde: ideally with web cameras in great universities' classrooms, and for Ph.D.s where a MIT professor will take on the electrical engineering student in India, and a Stanford professor with work with the Brazilian student
[12:38] Aphilo Aarde: the great universities becomeing a kind of consortium
[12:38] Roman Takacs: I think the IB model is a basic education, and then special training for the various career paths ... with the training not all packaged as a 4 year lump.
[12:38] Aphilo Aarde: Jobs .. in the knowledge society ... which this course argues for .
[12:38] Aphilo Aarde: Unviersities produce knowledge ...
[12:38] Aphilo Aarde: so, more and more, yes ...
[12:39] Aphilo Aarde: but not necessary
[12:39] Roman Takacs: Yes, but WHO at the university is producing WHAT knowledge.
[12:39] Aphilo Aarde: There's so much potential for variety of degrees on the web
[12:39] Roman Takacs: (The franconia model is that the students produce the knowledge that ends in a degree, not the professor.)
[12:40] Aphilo Aarde: The faculty ... and through the degree process .. .so the student, too, in learning the material
[12:40] Aphilo Aarde: the university as sociological phenomenon and institution
[12:40] Aphilo Aarde: sounds also possibly like the Hampshire model in Massachusetts
[12:40] Roman Takacs: When I was at Cal, the general feeling was that undergraduate education was a barrier to producing knowledge !
[12:41] Aphilo Aarde: starting around 1973 ... choice is so important for students ...
[12:41] Roman Takacs: Only the graduate students working for you were producing new knowledge.
[12:41] Aphilo Aarde: so the college catalog emerges .. and liberal arts' education ...
[12:41] Aphilo Aarde: different in Britain and Germany, for exmaple
[12:42] Aphilo Aarde: :) ... it's still true ... that undergraduate education is a barrier to producing knowledge !
[12:43] Roman Takacs: just noticed ... our advatars are just about synched in their motions.
[12:43] Aphilo Aarde: focused, good students are a dream for me ... (emerging from the 1960s)
[12:43] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[12:43] Roman Takacs: Well, "occassiopnally focused" :)
[12:44] Aphilo Aarde: And fortunately academia has a lot of faculty who saw the 60s ... which changed thinking significantly ...
[12:44] Aphilo Aarde: :)
[12:44] Roman Takacs: (I don't think students have changed all that much ... at least "statistically"(
[12:44] Roman Takacs: (I don't think that faculty have changed all that much either !)
[12:45] Aphilo Aarde: Stanford and Berkeley both sought to produce more Ph.D.s than their east coast counterparts Harvard and MIT
[12:45] Roman Takacs: (Which school they went to weas more important ...)
[12:45] Aphilo Aarde: int he late 50s and 60s ... and did so ...
[12:45] Aphilo Aarde: a production of knowledge occurred ...
[12:46] Aphilo Aarde: all those things still count ... academic networks have been around for a long time
[12:46] Aphilo Aarde: for better and for worse ...
[12:46] Aphilo Aarde: One beauty of World University and School vis-a-vis textbooks is its openness
[12:47] Aphilo Aarde: and a textbook section on each subject page - here's the template:
[12:47] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:48] Aphilo Aarde: where we'll be able to add the great textbooks out there ...
[12:48] Roman Takacs: Hmmm ... my niece went to rutgers. there were 12 psychology 1 sections, and 7 different textbook selections !
[12:48] Aphilo Aarde: ... still possibly boring, as you and I see them ... have to look at Delaneys
[12:49] Aphilo Aarde: :) Another beauty of WUaS has to do with class size ... the 'conference table' in all courses with graduate student instructors, for example,
[12:49] Roman Takacs: So why have a "course" unit ? why not each "course" being 10 different "modules" or "chapters" or "cases" ...
[12:49] Aphilo Aarde: is more possible ...
[12:50] Aphilo Aarde: no more 1 professor to 500 students in the same way as in a lecture room
[12:50] Roman Takacs: (Apparently the Open University (UK) model is 10 credit courses, each credit being a weeks work.
[12:50] Aphilo Aarde: It will be possible to break all these things down in new ways at WUaS , for the innovator ...
[12:50] Aphilo Aarde: thanks to MIT OCW :) and all of us teaching and learning ... youtube for example, mroe generally.
[12:51] Aphilo Aarde: We'll stop soon ...
[12:51] Aphilo Aarde: but I think WUaS will still engage the U.S. credit model, as well as grades
[12:51] Aphilo Aarde: 3 credits per class ...
[12:51] Aphilo Aarde: as a basic unit for degree programs ... because their transferrable ...
[12:52] Aphilo Aarde: At MIT which uses a different system, divide by 3
[12:52] Aphilo Aarde: Roman ... great to have generated this conversation this semester with you and everyone ...
[12:52] Roman Takacs: It was fun ...
[12:53] Roman Takacs: ... it set me off in the "hacker culture" direction
[12:53] Aphilo Aarde: Next year's course plans are still taking shape ... will keep you posted
[12:53] Aphilo Aarde: yes, fun! ...
[12:53] Aphilo Aarde: hacking culture is freeing :)
[12:53] Roman Takacs: Do a course on education, information technology, and the future of society :)
[12:54] Roman Takacs: (long may wikileaks live !)
[12:54] Aphilo Aarde: first some other foci ... World Univ and Sch, Harbin virtual actual ethnography ... possible Fellowship for the first ... maybe a textbook
[12:54] Roman Takacs: (or a thousand wikileaks :) )
[12:54] Roman Takacs: go for a "reader" :)
[12:55] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:55] Aphilo Aarde: building on the course wiki ... is the first step ... maybe with Palfrey ...
[12:55] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:55] Aphilo Aarde: we'll see ...
[12:56] Aphilo Aarde: let's stay in touch ... let me know when you come out to warmer climes in the west ...
[12:56] Aphilo Aarde: and via FB
[12:56] Roman Takacs: In a few years ... with a VW van :)
[12:56] Roman Takacs: just before oil peaks !
[12:56] Aphilo Aarde: Sounds like a blast (from the past :0)
[12:56] Aphilo Aarde: a solar VW van ?
[12:57] Roman Takacs: Solar bicycle !
[12:57] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:57] Roman Takacs: (human powered)
[12:57] Aphilo Aarde: Have you seen the Sunnev - a solar car by an inventor from Maine - Art Haines ?
[12:58] Aphilo Aarde: only goes 20-30 miles an hour, uses bicycle wheels, but it appears to work ...
[12:58] Roman Takacs: Not sure about that one ... lots of students are into building them ... UVM had some nice examples !
[12:58] Roman Takacs: UVM had similar model ...
[12:58] Aphilo Aarde:
[12:58] Roman Takacs: but they were able to make it cross country !
[12:58] Aphilo Aarde: It's also linked to the WUaS
[12:59] Aphilo Aarde: Solar Energy page ... let's get a solar hybrid car going 70 miles an hour, and legal :)
[12:59] Aphilo Aarde: for our VW bugs to come :)
[12:59] Aphilo Aarde: See you in cyberspace :) Nice to converse with you ...
[12:59] Roman Takacs: I'm happier at 40 mph !
[12:59] Roman Takacs: Ciao !
[12:59] Aphilo Aarde: :)Ciao!

( - December 11, 2010)

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