Agenda: Class 3
ET 690 Educational Technology Seminar
"The purpose of this book is not only to put forward reasons
that make sense but to play a role in promoting a serious conversation
about reasons." --Postman, p. 91
"We need to ask what characteristics of the technology
interact with the social context of its use to benefit some people
at the expense of others and to reinforce existing power relations;
and what possibilities exist for constructing alternative contexts
of use favoring more progressive outcomes, for breaking down existing
power relations. The relevant issues are demonstrably not technical
ones; this is what I mean in advocating the view that technology
is a social practice." --Bromley (in Bromley and Apple, p.
- All technological change is a Faustian bargain. For every
advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding
- The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are
never distributed evenly among the population. This means that
every new technology benefits some and harms others.
- Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea, sometimes
two or three powerful ideas. Like language itself, a technology
predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives and accomplishments
and to subordinate others. Every technology has a philosophy,
which is given expression in how the technology makes people
use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how
it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in
which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards.
- A new technology usually makes war against an old technology. It competes with it for time, attention, money, prestige, and
- Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A
new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything.
- Because of the symbolic forms in which information is encoded,
different technologies have different intellectual and
- Because of the accessibility and speed of their information,
different technologies have different political biases.
- Because of their physical form, different technologies have
different sensory biases.
- Because of the conditions in which we attend to them, different
technologies have different social biases.
- Because of their technical and economic structure, different
technologies have different content biases.
--Postman, pp. 192-193
- Questions and Announcements
- Thanks to Steve for Bringing Snacks
- Schedule of Book Discussion
- Class Participation
- Overall, last week's discussion was excellent
- I sent emails emails to several people with concerns or praise
- Discussion: Postman, Chapters 5 - 9
- What is Postman's Most Compelling Narrative?
- An interesting take on The Word Weavers / The World Makers from NPR
- Suggest a Narrative That Postman Missed
example: popularity, political correctness, America first, respect,
pride in country, accountability, enlightenment, rebellion, speed,
from our discussion last class: environmentalism, community, love,
servanthood (men and women for others) knowledge/learning,
opportunity, passion, Wegmans, citizenship. commitment
- Discuss in Small Groups What Makes Your Narrative Compelling
- Example: Kant's Categorical Imperative
- Better Example: Zoe Weil's narrative of "solutionaries"
- Describe ways a broad curriculum could be organized around
- Describe some of the major stories/parables of the narrative
- How would your narrative lead to different choices than some
- You might think about the "Wesley Standard": Can we push
this as a the salvation of our kids, or will it be self-defeating?
(this relates nicely to Kant)
- Discussion: Do Artifacts Have Politics?
- Listen to Technology
and Popular Music from NPR
- Technology is often thought to drive society; i.e. technological
advance is unstoppable, and we are stuck with its consequences.
- On the opposite end, technology is thought to be a creation
of the social and cultural context, and any effect of technology
is a social creation. Technology is, in itself, neutral.
- Winner argues that although technology is a social creation,
technologies contain politics, either designed into them or by
their nature they support or require a particular political or
social order. In issues of design, we can make conscious choices
to redesign the technology. In cases of the nature of the technology,
our choices are to use the technology and suffer the consequences
or avoid the technology altogether.
- For example, Winner discusses the Long Island Parkway system
which has overpasses and bridges that are nine feet tall. This
eliminates buses from the parkways and was designed to keep poor
people and blacks off the parkways and away from the parks and
beaches. He also cites, as unintentional, that many buildings
have been designed without handicapped access, keeping that segment
of the population away.
- Other technologies that, by their nature, support or require
a specific political form include nuclear power and the atomic
bomb (which require a top-down authoritarian hierarchy) and solar
energy (which promotes decentralized control).
- "It is characteristic of societies based on large, complex
technological systems, however, that moral reasons other than
those of practical necessity appear increasingly obsolete, 'idealistic,'
and irrelevant. Whatever claims one may wish to make on behalf
of liberty, justice, or equality can be immediately neutralized
when confronted with arguments to the effect: 'Fine, but that's
no way to run a railroad.'" [Purpose can drive our moral
barometers, and we are often ruled by the purpose of economic
a technology from the hat. Decide whether it is inherently political or
not. Describe how the technology impacts "arrangements of power and
authority in human associations as well as the activities that take
place within those arrangements."
- In preparation for next class:
- Postman Paper due in two classes
- Read, Turkle, Chapters 7-9
- Snacks Next Time: Stacey
Return to ET690 Home Page.
This page was prepared by Dr.
David M. Marcovitz.
Last Updated: September 24, 2013