Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thoughts on learning…

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot
read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and
relearn.” - Alvin Toffler

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning
into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” - Jack Welch

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the
lesson afterwards.” - Vernon Saunders Law

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over
the man who cannot read them.” - Mark Twain

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a
thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away” (Isaiah 50:4-5 TNIV).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The life of a dean

I once heard a seminary dean describe leading faculty members as similar to herding cats! Having been an academic dean myself, I think I can relate. Here’s a great video to help you with this image. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Must resist googling…at least sometimes!

More thoughts on Q. J. Schultze (2002) Habits of the High-Tech Heart. Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.

"In spite of the psychological research and publication in the last schultzecentury, it would be difficult to make the case that people are better off psychologically." (Schultze, p. 47)

I have to admit I laughed out loud when I read that sentence in Schultze. However, this statement probably reflects the aphorism "it's funny, but it's not." In chapter 2, Schultze examines the problem of how immoderate informational desires affects our knowing, especially our moral knowing. He describes the problem as "drowning in a deepening sea of fragmented, trivial, and incoherent information…[resulting] in moral confusion, not virtue. (p. 48)

I don't believe Schultze is asserting that despite the abundance of available information, people are not better informed. Rather, it appears his concern is that the "moral value of information depends on distinctly human faculties such as insight, discernment, and judgement. These kinds of interpretive abilities cannot be derived from the secular-rational logic of digital networks and database systems" (pp. 52-53)

Schultze feels the volume of information available and consumed creates an incoherence rooted in a lack of interpretive abilities rather than technological abilities. In support of this notion, he quotes the CEO of one web search engine company as saying "The best search between your ears" (p. 53).

Schultze makes a legitimate point by stressing the need for moral wisdom - "the capacity to recognize what is intrinsically good and right, what is worth knowing and remembering and how to use it wisely, if at all. Without such insight, we will discover that greater quantities of information become more of a curse than a blessing" (p. 53)

What kind of curse can it become? Schultze claims it can lead to moral confusion - a kind of informational gluttony and avarice. However, blogger toniowhola (see points out that he disconnects his computer from the internet for two hours every day—not only to cut down on distraction, but also to force himself to learn better without always defaulting to "just Google it." Toniowhola does not claim the internet is inherently bad, rather, he regularly unplugs to enhance his learning processes. Could it be that informationism might also harm our abilities to learn?

Sometimes I wonder "what would I do on a computer if it wasn't connected to the internet." I actually have done this and found I'm on it significantly less, which is probably a good thing. Although I can still be creative unplugged (e.g. writing, digital photography, etc.), the moderation of my access to the internet is something I should practice more. I think Schultze would appreciate this blogger's habit.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Vision of Students Today

As we seek to develop an understanding and strategy for delivering quality education to the student of the 21st century, we must first recognize the lifestyles and perspectives of today’s learners that attend colleges worldwide, bringing with them an abundance of implications for teachers and educational leaders.

They say the most important thing to effective communication is “know your audience.” Here’s a video that helps teachers know who’s in the classroom today.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Missionaries in Cyberculture

Thoughts on Q. J. Schultze (2002) Habits of the High Tech Heart. Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.

I find it interesting that Schultze's purpose in schultzethis book is to discuss living virtuously in the Information Age. Bearing in mind that the text is eight years old, we are now more likely in what some pundits call the Interaction Age, which distinguishes digital information as not just content accessed by people but as content around which they engage and construct knowledge in a social manner. Still the question of how to live virtuously in this context is just as relevant if not more complicated.

Schultze points out that every technological advance also delivers us to new moral quandaries and he is deeply concerned how we might be letting "instrumental practices unravel the moral fabric of our lives" (p. 13). Instead of a heart that is shaped by virtue, Schultze appears concerned that our hearts are becoming high tech themselves. Therefore, information and communication technologies (ICT) in themselves are not the problem for Schultze. Rather, it is "the habits of our hearts as we do our cyber-endevors" (p. 21).

As a Christian, I certainly agree it's important to understand ICT in the light of rich sources of biblical moral wisdom that can shape our practices around what is "prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair" (Proverbs 1:3 TNIV). Schultze makes a key statement about the problem he is addressing: "Like ethical chameleons, we adapt our moral practices to the latest technologies rather than summoning our technologies to follow a long-term moral vision. Our desire to become skilful technologists increasingly dictates our moral decisions. We rarely think about what it means to be good and wise people; instead, we focus on whether we are technologically connected" (p. 29).

I've been thinking about a recent idea expressed by Apple, Inc.  CEO Steve Jobs in a few recent public presentations. He feels that Apple has always tried to be at the intersection of technology andTech liberal arts liberal arts - pushing the advancement of products from a technology point of view but also making them intuitive, easy and fun to use. In short, to enrich and liberate the user's life. I find his use of the term "liberal arts" a bit stretched (although it's a broad term anyway) but intriguing nonetheless.

Schultze describes the concept of cyberculture as “the technique-laden values, practices, and beliefs of people who spend a great deal of time in cyberspace and who perceive themselves as informationally we connected” (p. 18). Cyberculture socializes people in its values. In light of this, I'm wondering how a Christian can summon "cyberculture" to the intersection of technology and godly character? That is to say, the intersection of both advanced technologies and the virtuous use of them. Even Schultze acknowledges that dismantling all ICT is not realistic nor a good solution. I would think this is quite a missional question and compelling vision for Christians in this networked world.