3 Chapters
Medium 9781942496236

Chapter 1: The Learner’s Digital Domain

Audrey Watters Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 1

The Learner’s Digital Domain

In the third century BC, the Library of Alexandria was tasked with collecting all the world’s knowledge, storing a copy of every written work in scroll and book form. Of course, papyrus isn’t particularly durable, as the infamous burning of the library unfortunately demonstrated. Even without fire, paper records are precariously fragile and temporary.

Now that so much of our writing and recordkeeping are digital, we might presume that all the world’s knowledge is safe from loss or destruction. You’ll often hear people say that the Internet is forever. Once you post something online, it never goes away. And while it’s true that making copies no longer requires labor-intensive transcription or paper-intensive reprinting, we face new challenges. The Internet isn’t forever. Certainly technologies become obsolete. Websites go away. Links “rot,” sometimes faster than paper does.

The preservation of digital materials requires us to think differently about storage, in part because of the ever-changing formats in which we store data—Word documents, WordPerfect documents, Google Docs, PDFs, Rich Text Format—which of these will be around and legible thousands of years from now?

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Medium 9781942496236

Chapter 2: Why Claim Your Domain?

Audrey Watters Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 2

Why Claim Your Domain?

One of the most powerful learning technologies humans have ever created is the World Wide Web. Its power doesn’t lie simply in all the content—a modern version of the Library of Alexandria that contains all the world’s knowledge. We get too distracted by that. The power of the web lies mostly in human connections, the intellectual and social networks that we build.

The fact that schools block and filter the web and discourage its use is a shame. If schools fail to help students learn about how the web works and how it will likely form some aspect of their digital identity, it is a terrible missed opportunity.

In 2010, Wired Magazine tried to argue that the web is dead. Then-editor Chris Anderson and columnist Michael Wolff (2010) write:

As much as we love the open, unfettered web, we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work …. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display.

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Medium 9781942496236

Chapter 3: Controlling Our Own Technologies

Audrey Watters Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 3

Controlling Our Own Technologies

Claiming your domain and building user-centered technologies are both attempts to get closer to what Ivan Illich calls convivial tools. The term comes from his 1973 book Tools for Conviviality, published just two years after the book he’s probably best known for, Deschooling Society (1971). These are just two of a number of very interesting, progressive, if not radical texts about education from roughly the same period, such as Goodman’s Compulsory Mis-education and the Community of Scholars (1964) and Postman and Weingartner’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969).

These books share the same diagnosis: our education system is controlling, exploitative, and imperialist, and despite all our talk about democratization and opportunity, school often serves to reinforce the existing hierarchies of our socioeconomic world—categorizations based on race, class, gender, and nationality.

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