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Tag Archives: education

New Media: An exciting opportunity for cultural institutions!

New media are pushing the boundaries of cultural institutions by providing them with new tools to play with.

But most of all, new media are the opportunity to reach a broader and younger audience.

  • Required viewings

Even though lots of museums have understood how interesting it is to embed their educational mission in new media, they remain a bit confused on how to use the technology on purpose.

Then why not starting by using new media to ask for people’s advice like the Smithsonian (“the world’s largest museum complex and research organization”) did:

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This interesting initiative generated great content! Look at that it’s really worth it!

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  • Required readings

Here is a guide based on a new book by Nina Simon providing advice on how the museums should work on their relationships with their community

The participatory museum

Nina Simon also feeds a blog: Museum 2.0 (you might like this recommendation that Harris gave to me)

  • To go further…

For those who would like to learn more I strongly recommend to look at the Brooklyn Museum who has become a reference in terms of new media strategy

Also the web site Museum and the Web 2010 has really great academic resources on the topic.

Weekly Summary: Education Evolution in the Age of New Media

This week we dive into the discussion how education is changing with the rise of new media and how the education systems should change. In particular, we look at the point of view of two scholars, Cass Sunstein and Don Tapscott. Sunstein tells of potentially dangers of too much evolution and what we must do to avoid these perils in MyUniversity.com while Tapscott vehemently argues for how the system of higher education must adapt and change to the rise of new technology and new methods of learning in The Impending Demise of the University. Let look into what these two scholars think and said:

MyUniversity.com? Personalized Education and Personalized News by Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein looks into how education can be personalized for individuals. Sunstein states that personalization brings much efficacy in terms of learning more and faster and thereby makes education more efficient. Moreover, he explains that certain level of personalization is inherent in the education system in the very basic level of education such as students choosing which college they wish to attend. However, what Sunstein focuses on in his article is the level of personalization that education should be given. Sunstein argues that too much personalization can bring about a problem of “filtering” and make the society into fragmented heterogeneity without a binding force. Sunstein suggests that while personalization should be embraced, two requirements must be kept:

1) Unanticipated encounter: Being exposed to materials and knowledge that one would not have sought out individually under complete personalization.
2) Common experiences: Shared experiences among people to enable people to understand one another.

In order to explore this concept, Sunstein asks the readers to imagine a utopian world with complete personalization. During this thought experiment, he states that the feasibility of such world is the least of our worries with the rise of emerging media. Indeed, since the publication of this article in 2002, the world of today somewhat resembles Sunstein’s thought experiment. Yet, the differences between this thought experiment utopia and today’s society still exists. As Sunstein explains while the world has become more personalized, we are still able to experience “unanticipated encounter” and “common experiences”. In Sunstein’s example, he states that while more newspapers have become available and one may choose to read the newspaper that has the topic he is most interested in, he is still susceptible to being exposed to content he would otherwise not have encountered in that newspaper.

Sunstein states that in an over-personalized where individuals are nearly completely isolated from each other in terms of news and education can also cause the problem of reduced “public sphere”. Sunstein suggests that as the world becomes more personalized, we must keep the public forum doctrine to promote three important functions:

1) Speakers can have access to wide array of people. Sunstein shares examples that if one wants to speak out about high taxes or police brutality, existence of public forum helps them to share this opinion with many others.
2) Speakers can have general access not only to a heterogeneous group, but also to specific people and institutions with whom they have complaint.
3) The public forum doctrine ensures that the people will be exposed to wide variety of ideas and other members of the society.

In the new emerging media world, such public forums should be present, not just the specialized and isolated forums. Sunstein states that effects of isolated personalization can be especially traumatic in the case of education without proper control. As people inherent seek what is interesting to them, groups will become divided and polarized, leading to increased racial and cultural divide as well as political rifts. As a whole, Sunstein is for personalization, but only under an appropriate degree and not complete personalization.

The Impending Demise of University by Don Tapscott

Tapscott in The Impending Demise of University states while universities and colleges have the highest attendance than ever, yet they are losing their hold on the “monopoly” of higher education. More innately, Tapscott states that there exists a definite and clear disparity between the pedagogy defined by the instructor and one by the students. In the ages of digital, according to Tapscott, the students are no longer bound by the one-way street type of teaching the old pedagogy offered and are limitless and map-less in their pursuit of knowledge through the medium of Internet. (Tapscott also mentions that the universities have become too concentrated on research and less on education itself. However, I would personally argue that this is not a recent phenomenon and unrelated with emerging new media.)

Tapscott argues that “Industrial model of student mass production” must end and will end. He says the current pedagogy is a “broadcast learning” system where the instructor is the “broadcaster” and the students are the listeners. However, Tapscott points out the rise of technology and internet has enabled the students to tune into different broadcasts as the source of knowledge. Moreover, the new generations of students are adroit in their use of such medium and such method of learning. The teachers—“broadcasters”—must adapt to cater to these new students:

“They’re used to multi-tasking, and have learned to handle the information overload. They expect a two-way conversation. What’s more, growing up digital has encouraged this generation to be active and demanding enquirers. Rather than waiting for a trusted professor to tell them what’s going on, they find out on their own on everything from Google to Wikipedia.”

Tapscott states that universities have been the slowest to adapt as smaller liberal arts colleges are beginning to change and internet universities and classes are rising. In certain cases, there are new models of education being innovated. Tapscott shares an example of “Good Questions” program from Dr. Maria Terrell of Cornell, combining the web-based elements and in-class lectures. Students can ask warm-up questions before class and the professor can cater their class to address those questions (Very much like our class, I think). According to Tapscott, interactive learning allows for students to learn at their own pace and making direct input to what is being taught and therefore exhibits better efficacy.

As students find more channels to learn and find knowledge, Tapscott says that universities must adapt and that “universities should be places to learn, not to teach”. By doing so, he makes several challenges to different aspects of universities in order to become a place to learn:

1) Challenge to Teaching: Tapscott says teaching system should accommodate for next Geners, who are used to interactive learning and learning from each other in groups. New methods of pedagogy must be defined.
2) Challenge to the Revenue Model: classes in universities must differ from internet lectures and classes that can be had for free in order to justify its high prices.
3) Challenge to Credentialing: new method of credentialing must be determined to effectively measure the aptitude of university as a learning institution.
4) Challenge to the Campus: campuses should be able to offer a holistic package of education experience, in which students get together and think and learn together and ultimately enhance the learning experience.
5) Challenge to the Relationship of University to Other Institutions: Tapscott states that students should be able to learn not just from instructors of a particular university he is attending, but also from intellectuals from other institutions through the digital medium (not just through books).

In conclusion, Tapscott makes a bold statement that if the universities cannot adapt and change, they will perish.

My University.com, My Government.com: Is the Internet Really a Blessing for Democracy?: Presentation by Cass Sunstein

This is a talk at University of Michigan in which Sunstein discusses several of the points he made from the previous article. The article did seem somewhat ahead of his time, but this talk was held December 2008 and seems more relevant to today (he brings up Google News). In this presentation, Sunstein mentions additional experiments and meta-analysis that reveal striking effects of group polarization, and thereby stresses the dangers of over-personalization and “architecture of serendipity”.

First experiment was held in Colorado Springs, which leans conservative, and Boulder, which tends to be liberal. Participants in both cities were asked to give their views anonymously on three issues:

1) Should the US sign the international agreement to control the emission of greenhouse gases?
2) Should employers engage in race conscious affirmative action policies?
3) Should Colorado recognize same-sex civil union?

Following submission of their anonymous views on these topics, people engaged in discussion for 15 minutes. Then participants were asked to submit their view again in anonymous manner. According to Sunstein, the experiment revealed three interesting results:

1) After discussion group views were polarized and became more extreme.
2) Before discussion, internal diversity became existed but when examined after discussion, internal diversity disappeared.
3) The difference opinion of median between Colorado Springs and Boulder became dramatized.

The second example, Sunstein shared involved a meta analysis of Courts of Appeal in the U.S., which is comprised of three judges. Looking at historical judicial decision, the decisions are far more extreme and ideological when the panel is composed completely of Republican appointees or completely of Democrat appointees. For instance, Republican appointees vote pro-gay rights 14% in a 3R panel. Democrat judges vote pro-gay rights 100% in a 3D panel. Sunstein states that these percentages increased/decreased closer to 50% when the panel was mixed with both Democratic appointees and Republican appointees.

In the third example, 1,000 jury-eligible people in TX involved in the study. The participants were presented with asked to rank a hypothetical corporate misconduct on a scale of 0 to 6 and assign proper dollar amount of punishment. The median score in a group of six tends to be highly predictable measure of the median score of another group of six and were also in line with median American score. However, there were a lot of unpredictability on dollar value of punishment. In a follow-up study, instead of just submitting their score and monetary punishment value, the participants were grouped and asked to delivery a decision as a group after a discussion. According to Sunstein, there is a systematic severity shift: “people who are disturbed get more disturbed and people who were lenient became more lenient.” In other words, issues that had a median score of 5 become a 6 on the severity rank scale and issues that had a median score of 2 became 1. In addition, groups were systematically severe in terms of monetary punishment level. In 25% of the cases, the punishment level was at least as severe as the highest individual member’s punishment level before the discussion.

These examples stressed the point Sunstein made in the article about the dangers of group polarization. In order to prevent dramatic polarization, Sunstein suggests that “architecture of serendipity” must be put in place in education. The “architecture of serendipity” is essentially the two rules he suggested in the article of “unintended, un-chosen encounter with a person, a topic, or an argument” and “shared experience that unite people across differences”. Sunstein states that his ideas on public forum doctrine and implementation of architecture of serendipity in education system were inspired from Jane Jacob’s theory on urban public spaces in American cities. Sunstein believes that education system and Internet society can function like the urban public spaces that Jacobs described, serving as places in which people can meet others that differ not only in terms of looks but also in ideology and more importantly co-exist in harmony with them.

Sunstein points about that in the current blogsphere, political topics and views have become fragmented and polarized. Readers will tend to go from one blog representing one particular end of the political spectrum and move to another blog of similar content and political view, making oneself more extreme. One solution Sunstein suggests regarding this is that people start to practice more respectable linking to provide readers with means of becoming exposed to blogs and ideas that are not necessarily aligned with the current blog they are on. Sunstein states that the over personalization–through blogs or digital education–can be dangerous because of two factors:

1) People have natural tentativeness to reach conclusion on a given topic; however, ff given corroboration, people become extreme. Being exposed to only one view or side of a topic will push the people to the extremes.
2) Personalization of information and education brings about lack of exchange of information. In a filtered group, people will have chance to listen to only views that reinforce one view and will not have the chance to be exposed to other views.

In order to stress the danger of this, Sunstein shares a famous social conformity experiment. (He didn’t say, but I am pretty sure that it is by Solomon Asch). In this experiment people were given series of lines and were asked to choose on that is closest in length to a given line. The experiment session involved several people at the same time, but only one was a subject and others were confederates. When the confederates all chose a clearly wrong answer, the experiment subject also chose the wrong answer on 70% of the times despite the fact that the correct answer was very clear. Sunstein states that if social conformity is so powerful even when the answer is clear, on moral, political, and social topics, restricting oneself to only “personalized” views can make them conform to ideas that he/she might have otherwise thought too extreme.

Overall, Sunstein’s presentation is very much aligned with his article. However, in the presentation he even more strongly stresses the dangers of potential group polarization towards extremes and lack of exchange of information that can be caused to too much personalization. He does concede that in certain cases, the isolation through personalization and polarization may be a good thing as in the cases of anti-communist movement in the USSR or civil rights movement. However, it can also be the cause of birth of terrorists. He stresses that we must proceed with caution on the growing individual personalization through new media.