In an Internet-connected world, it is almost impossible to keep track of how systems actually function. Your telephone conversation may be delivered over analog lines one day and by the Internet the next. Your airplane route may be chosen by a computer or a human being, or (most likely) some combination of both. Don't bother asking, because any answer you get is likely to be wrong.He illustrates this discussing Internet Time Protocol the system that allows software to know what time/date it is now, so saving humans from needing to enter the time and date on bootup. The system depends on multiple networked devices, and few if any programmers understand it, we all use it. We are interconnecting not only when we are aware of it, but also and particularly when we are not.
Soon, no human will know the answer. More and more decisions are made by the emergent interaction of multiple communicating systems, and these component systems themselves are constantly adapting, changing the way they work. This is the real impact of the Internet: by allowing adaptive complex systems to interoperate, the Internet has changed the way we make decisions. More and more, it is not individual humans who decide, but an entangled, adaptive network of humans and machines.
D is for DoubtYes! Now, can we encourage students to begin to understand this?
A certain unreliability of technical and material information on the Internet brings us to the notion of doubt. I feel that doubt has become more pervasive. The artist Carsten Höller has invented the Laboratory of Doubt, which is opposed to mere representation. As he has told me, 'Doubt and perplexity ... are unsightly states of mind we'd rather keep under lock and key because we associate them with uneasiness, with a failure of values'. Höller's credo is not to do; not to intervene. To exist is to do and not to do is a way of doing. 'Doubt is alive; it paralyzes certainty.' (Carsten Höller)
It is our misfortune to live through the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race, a misfortune because surplus always breaks more things than scarcity. Scarcity means valuable things become more valuable, a conceptually easy change to integrate. Surplus, on the other hand, means previously valuable things stop being valuable, which freaks people out.This is the lesson Big Music is beginning to learn, the moving image industry has begun to face, that is freaking the publishers, but will change higher education beyond belief (one day, soon?). [See my Back to the Future: Virtual Theologising as Recapitulation especially the first section "Return of the Rabbi" 115-121.]
Won't the translations be inaccurate?
Oh yes! But this is part of the attraction of the project, as well as being rendered in the mother tongue the out of copyright texts are also adapted (a little more than is usual in a translation – for all translations are also to some extent cultural adaptations) this makes them more useful. But it may mean that some sort of peer review process should be built in, to ensure that undesirable errors do not creep in. I doubt this needs to be formalised. Since the new “text” is semi-oral and since semi-oral cultures have a flexibility to adapt their texts, the pastor would rework and improve any chapter that their colleagues question.
How will we ensure that busy senior pastors actually find time to do the translating?
First, not a lot of time is needed, just read a chapter, then reread it a paragraph at a time and speak it in their mother tongue. Say two hours for a chapter, once they have done a couple during a training day, and done the first few more slowly on their own. Second, the laptop itself is a carrot. It stays under their authority as long as they produce an agreed number of chapters – becoming their possession after an agreed period. Third, the fact that they are producing this resource is a source of honour (mana etc.) and the fact that it is in their voice will also add to their authority in other things.
Senior pastors won't be able to master the unfamiliar technology!
How many senior pastors do you know who do not have children (and/or grandchildren, nieces, nephews...) in their household. How much training do you think those guys will need? But it is true not all will be able or willing to support the project. Many useful medicines cannot be tolerated by some patients, Penicillin is a well-known example, this does not stop their use among the rest of the population!
There will be a lot of new technology to break down and support!
Not a lot. Most of the distribution can be to existing mobile phones or MP3 players. So, for each district you are looking at one laptop (the OLPCs are designed to be rugged and if they are becoming the possession of the families there is an interest in protecting them) and perhaps several MP3 players (they are also very rugged and now quite cheap <$20 retail). You would naturally use the laptop model that is that is chosen for the national education system, or one for which support should be available. And anyway, how much does it cost under the old print system to get books to pastors? And they are culturally inappropriate books, in foreign languages!
This scheme gives the power to the local church!
Yes! Great isn't it :) Print allowed foreign missions, missionaries and ministries to produce “great” resources for the poor people people of the land. This way they get assisted to produce resources for themselves. If they start out doing Matthew Henry in Kisangali, how long do you think it will take before some pastors also produce their own “texts” dealing with locally raised issues? Where has print ever achieved that degree of localisation?
This scheme will reduce the motivation for literacy in places with low literacy rates :(
First, get your priorities right! What are you about? Helping people become clones of the West? Or deepening their understanding? Second, if you think this little project will have a bigger impact than radio, TV and mobile phones you have a higher view of its potential than I have ;) Literacy as we have known it for 500 years is under threat, but this project will not contribute much to the change, though it does work with it rather than resist... “Literacy” and “books” are not idols to be worshiped but a technology and skill that are no longer as dominant as they once were – do not make the dominant technology of the past a fetish object!
I really love the fact that so much academic material is now distributed free of charge: the Oriental Institute is offering their treasure-trove of publications gratis, lectures on every conceivable topic from thermodynamics to Thermopylae are available on institutional sites as well as iTunes U, free online journals have arisen, and individual scholars are putting their work on their websites.
print journalism is going through a wrenching transformation, and its future is in doubt. Over the past two decades, newspaper readership in the United States has plummeted. After peaking in 1984, at 63 million copies, the daily circulation of American papers fell steadily at a rate of about 1 percent a year until 2004 when it hit 55 million. Since then, the pace of the decline has accelerated. Circulation fell by more than 2 percent in 2005 and by about 3 percent in 2006.A print newspaper is a "bundle" of services but:
When a newspaper moves online, the bundle falls apart. Readers don’t flip through a mix of stories, advertisements, and other bits of content. They go directly to a particular story that interests them, often ignoring everything else.This, it is sometimes argued, is promoting an "unbundling" of traditional newspaper services, with some becoming free on the Internet, and other more specialised services being paid for, yet users do not want to pay online, and:
few newspapers, other than specialized ones like the Wall Street Journal, are able to charge anything for their content online, the success of a story as a product is judged by the advertising revenues it generates. Advertisers no longer have to pay to appear in a bundle.Neither the first article, nor Clay Shirky's followup, which argues that What Newspapers and Journalism Need Now: Experimentation, Not Nostalgia, really offers a clear prediction of the future of investigative journalism, though Clay seems to see blogging filling this role [?] ;).
If you take as a given that academic publishing must change to meet the new realities of the Internet economy (i do), which parts will become essentially free goods, and which parts will continue to require a high level of professional competence. Even more importantly, assuming some of these services can’t be easily replaced, what are the new economic models that will provide the required compensation for them?My answers really haven't changed much over recent years. I still see the "content" of tertiary education (textbooks and lectures typically in the current system) becoming free, or at least dirt cheap. See "Gatekeepers, Open Courseware and the future of the University". That others have joined MIT since 2004 just reinforces this view. Nichthus will ask: How will such content be financed? Basically I suspect long term through either advertising or cheap prices and high volume (a sort of iTunes University ;-)
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Photo Jack Hynes
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“Well, that’s when I banned computers from my classroom,” she said smugly. “That fixed that problem up right quick.”“It’s probably inconvenient for them to have to use pen and paper but it’s just so rude for them not to be focused on my lecture!”.Amber responded:
If liberal education is going to make progress and be of any value in this culture, it has to embrace the way people actually learn and consume information today, not they way they did in the days of Socrates, or even our parents. Or even, truly, us..Amen! She also imagined a start-the-year speech introducing the new batch of students:
They were five years old when Quentin Tarantino gave us Pulp Fiction. They’ve been using the internet since elementary school. They’ve never seen a floppy disk. They barely remember VHS tapes, and have never gotten tangled up in an overly long phone cord because they grew up with cordless phones. They’ve never recorded songs off the radio: they’ve always been able to download them. These are this year’s freshmen.” I’m sure that hearing this, many professors will balk and stammer, and many will think, “God, what do we have in common with these kids?”.But, we still expect students, old and young in the age of MSN and TXT to sit, often in ROWS, and look to the front, while someone "delivers information and ideas"!?
Photo by athena.
Photo from JezIn this first part I'll cover revision, the next post will cover the exam itself. (I covered "How to avoid reading books" in a previous post...)
Is my name for a short simple summary of a subject or topic.
A good noddy guide will be:
- simple but
Ideally, however, it will be written by a real scholar - avoid people with an axe to grind!
For smaller subjects, and for topics, subject "dictionaries" and "encyclopedias" are often a good source (e.g. in Bible the Anchor Bible Dictionary contains thousands of topic level noddy guides it also has quite a few subject level guides).
Photo from CraigBoneyAnother good approach is to divide your pages for the initial notes into two-thirds and one third, then to use the bottom one third to prepare a draft of the one page notes. If you do it this way it is still a good idea to copy the final brief notes onto a separate page.
Many of us try to read wrong
The right way to read is much like the way we "read" the newspaper or a magazine!At this stage you should be able to write a brief summary of the chapter - yes, just like you did for the book earlier.
[u]niversities do not treat the publishing function as an important, mission-centric endeavor. Publishing generally receives little attention from senior leadership at universities and the result has been a scholarly publishing industry that many in the university community find to be increasingly out of step with the important values of the academy.My take on the first point is that Universities (on the whole with a few, largely historic exceptions) have found presses to be good money-losing opportunities, and have failed to notice that "scaling back" their activity risks stultifying the whole academic scene through the commercialisation of academic publishing. I think my second point comments closely on their final careful phrase!
In the past decade, the range and importance of the latter has been dramatically expanded by information technology, as scholars increasingly turn to preprint servers, blogs, listservs, and institutional repositories, to share their work, ideas, data, opinions, and critiques. These forms of informal publication have become pervasive in the university and college environment. As scholars increasingly rely on these channels to share and find information, the boundaries between formal and informal publication will blur. These changes in the behavior of scholars will require changes in the approaches universities take to all kinds of publishing.In other words "take your heads out of the sand people, academic publishing is going through a revolution - whether you like it or not", and that for me is the key point, the revolution WILL happen, the only question is who will be left standing afterwards!
Publishing in the future will look very different than it has looked in the past. Consumption patterns have already changed dramatically, as many scholars have increasingly begun to rely on electronic resources to get information that is useful to their research and teaching. Transformation on the creation and production sides is taking longer, but ultimately may have an even more profound impact on the way scholars work. Publishers have made progress putting their legacy content online, especially with journals. We believe the next stage will be the creation of new formats made possible by digital technologies, ultimately allowing scholars to work in deeply integrated electronic research and publishing environments that will enable real-time dissemination, collaboration, dynamically-updated content, and usage of new media.
Administrators, librarians and presses each have a role to play (as do scholars, though this report is not directed at them).Yes, people, this brave new world may be digital and electronic and cool, but lets make sure that scholars do not get their inky hands on the levers of power or horror of horrors learn to take control of their own work. We administrators, along with senior librarians who have learned across the years to "speak our language" are better able to decide the future of academic publishing, so we must make sure scholars do not worry their pointy heads about it. They might rock the boat.... At least I think that's what this sentence means:
Their efforts should be closely and intelligently connected to their campuses’ academic programs and priorities in order to ensure their relevancy and institutional commitment.
Clearly defined student outcomes that focus on the development of the learner rather than content coverage (already a standard feature of instructional design).The trick is that we need:
Assessment tasks that encourage process rather than outcome, and that are flexible enough to permit reference to a variety of real world contexts. Linking students in with their real worlds as the context for theological and exegetical engagement (yes, already an established theme in general educational literature).Here, many of us already agree in principle, so this task is easier. But again, since we were not taught this way, we need help. It is so much easier to set an essay from the list that old Dr Brown used.
Shifting the classroom and meeting experience from didactic teaching first, conversation and dialogue supplemental to conversation and dialogue first, didactic teaching supplemental (this could be achieved with a national resource-based approach).From where I sit the key here is the little term "resource-based". The conversation thing is common, dialogue is present (not as often as we'd like, because hierarchical structures oppose it, but it occurs), but no way is current practice resource-based! This depends (I think) on the conversion mentioned above - if theological teachers really accepted that they teach students not subjects, people not content, really really believed that, then resourced-based teaching would be easy to encourage.
Viewing church history and established dogma as a resource, not as the subject. The subject is now, the student context, the today world. We do not need to reinvent; rather, we need to discover how we can make relevant. We must enter the future looking forwards, but still with a sense of continuing the Christian story and writing its current chapters in the context of what has been written before. To ignore theological tradition makes us ignorant and impoverished. To focus solely on it without reference to the current context makes us irrelevant and impotent.And maybe this is the way into the whole conversion...
We must design with an appreciation of the gradual development of the learner. Yes, level 5 study ought to be more structured and foundational. Yes, levels 6 and 7 should be far more open-ended and conversational. Wisdom must guide our pedagogies. Faith in the Spirit’s work in developing the learner must be apparent.Though, of course, this is the real key...
In some fields, we expect practitioners to have mastered a field of vitally-important facts. I do not care how my civil engineer feels about cement, steel, and roadHe notes the lack of consistency and clarity among people about the goals of theological education, and then writes:
surfaces; I care urgently that the overpass stays up while I drive over (or under) it.
For my part, I take the consequences of “untrue” theological practice as much more grievous than of, let's say, a very unpalatable, vacuous performance routine.AKMA's position on this is strikingly similar to what Nichthus' writes from a different part odf the theo-ecclessial spectrum:
It’s great to embrace post-modernism and to engage in ‘free-field’ thinking. But we must remember that those participating in such discussion must first have a reliable framework and point of reference. Particularly in theological education, we need to take careful steps to create boundaries for participants. There are some things in evangelical Christianity that we simply must take for granted in a modernistic sense. The resurrection and Lordship of Jesus. The authority of Scripture. Salvation by faith, expressed through works. There is a core cluster of landmarks that we must have in place before embarking on theological dialogue. Novices can drown in an open sea of conversation.I tend both to agree, and to dissagree! God knows (to quote Oscar Wilde out of context) I am with them in some things. And Mark's list looks about right. And yet... I wonder if even here the passion for truth needs to be preceded by a passion for people... Does conversation and dialogue even here precede understanding of why these truths (whatever list you or I hold as basic) are the ones and not others like them but different. The "why" is perhaps at least as important as the "what"!
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