The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Over the past two decades, the way we learn has changed dramatically. We have new sources of information and new ways to exchange and to interact with information. But our schools and the way we teach have remained largely the same for years, even centuries. What happens to traditional educational institutions when learning also takes place on a vast range of Internet sites, from Pokemon Web pages to Wikipedia? This report investigates how traditional learning institutions can become as innovative, flexible, robust, and collaborative as the best social networking sites. The authors propose an alternative definition of "institution" as a "mobilizing network" -- emphasizing its flexibility, the permeability of its boundaries, its interactive productivity, and its potential as a catalyst for change -- and explore the implications for higher education. The Future of Thinking reports on innovative, virtual institutions. It also uses the idea of a virtual institution both as part of its subject matter and as part of its process: the first draft of the book was hosted on a Web site for collaborative feedback and writing. The authors use this experiment in participatory writing as a test case for virtual institutions, learning institutions, and a new form of collaborative authorship. The finished version is still posted and open for comment. This book is the full-length report of the project, which was summarized in an earlier MacArthur volume, The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age.
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Additional Information

Publisher
MIT Press
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Published on
Jan 15, 2010
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Pages
316
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ISBN
9780262266536
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Computers & Technology
Social Science / Media Studies
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This content is DRM free.
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Many teens today who use the Internet are actively involved in participatory cultures -- joining online communities (Facebook, message boards, game clans), producing creative work in new forms (digital sampling, modding, fan videomaking, fan fiction), working in teams to complete tasks and develop new knowledge (as in Wikipedia), and shaping the flow of media (as in blogging or podcasting). A growing body of scholarship suggests potential benefits of these activities, including opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, development of skills useful in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship. Some argue that young people pick up these key skills and competencies on their own by interacting with popular culture; but the problems of unequal access, lack of media transparency, and the breakdown of traditional forms of socialization and professional training suggest a role for policy and pedagogical intervention.

This report aims to shift the conversation about the "digital divide" from questions about access to technology to questions about access to opportunities for involvement in participatory culture and how to provide all young people with the chance to develop the cultural competencies and social skills needed. Fostering these skills, the authors argue, requires a systemic approach to media education; schools, afterschool programs, and parents all have distinctive roles to play.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning

In 1980 Cathy N. Davidson traveled to Japan to teach English at a leading all-women’s university. It was the first of many journeys and the beginning of a deep and abiding fascination. In this extraordinary book, Davidson depicts a series of intimate moments and small epiphanies that together make up a panoramic view of Japan. With wit, candor, and a lover’s keen eye, she tells captivating stories—from that of a Buddhist funeral laden with ritual to an exhilarating evening spent touring the “Floating World,” the sensual demimonde in which salaryman meets geisha and the normal rules are suspended. On a remote island inhabited by one of the last matriarchal societies in the world, a disconcertingly down-to-earth priestess leads her to the heart of a sacred grove. And she spends a few unforgettable weeks in a quasi-Victorian residence called the Practice House, where, until recently, Japanese women were taught American customs so that they would make proper wives for husbands who might be stationed abroad. In an afterword new to this edition, Davidson tells of a poignant trip back to Japan in 2005 to visit friends who had remade their lives after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, which had devastated the city of Kobe, as well as the small town where Davidson had lived and the university where she taught.

36 Views of Mount Fuji not only transforms our image of Japan, it offers a stirring look at the very nature of culture and identity. Often funny, sometimes liltingly sad, it is as intimate and irresistible as a long-awaited letter from a good friend.

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