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As for worrying about seeming disengaged, I find tweeting from my iPad or computer is much more socially acceptable and I feel more comfortable than tweeting from my phone, which is how you were doing it. When you are tweeting from the phone, I feel like people think you are texting someone about something else.
From my perspective, I could see that you were taking paper notes too and moving back and forth between private paper notes and public digital notes. You always seemed engaged, so that did not seem to be a problem from where I sat.
I am glad too that you mention Randall, a favorite of mine, and someone who I engage deeply in my book, Aristotle on the Nature of Truth.
I would like to hear more about your distinction between scientism and the spirit of science.
I need to write an updated post about my workflow now that ZotPad is working well for me.
Your concern about a possible lost generation of trained humanities scholars is an important one too. Part of the stitching there involves establishing fair, reliable teaching positions with specifiable career paths and benefits. It also involves a culture shift in which tenure line faculty become more sensitive to and appreciative of the very important contributions that our lecturers make to the academic mission of our colleges and universities.
But what I want to emphasize is that an excellent education is always rooted in a holistic and thoughtfully crafted curriculum in which individual courses build on one another and the student is drawn into a deeper understanding of the field. Many autodidacts craft curricula of their own, and to great effect.
But part of the point I was trying to make in the post above is that universities and those of us who are faculty members are well positioned to transform haphazard learning into a coherent education by virtue of our ability to craft coherent, relevant and dynamic curricula.
MOOCs challenge those of us in higher education to craft such curricula, even if those curricula might include MOOCs themselves. So I am denying neither that a MOOC can be a valuable learning experience nor that it can be an important part of a curriculum. But when we unbundle courses from the curriculum into which they are integrated, like a song from an album, the education our students receive is impoverished.
One thing it's important to emphasize is that the twitter feed did not work the way I intended it to work when I was crafting the lecture/experience. I wanted the tweets to be moderated so that you needed to demonstrate a certain degree of thoughtfulness to get up on the big screen. When there was no bar for participation, the lowest common denominator prevailed. If there had been a bar, I was hoping that a virtuous circle would develop in which students would try to say something thoughtful or insightful and relevant in order to get on the big screen. I wanted to leverage their desire to be public to create a more enriching public ... that was the plan at least.
The discussion and the twitter feed was much more insightful on Friday when some sections of the FYE course were organized into small groups with discussion questions.
My approach in this case was the opposite of your approach to teaching students a different way of paying attention, though I fully endorse your approach too and think it is necessary to proactively reflect critically upon "our device-centric culture." But in this case, I wanted to use that device centric culture to illustrate its dangers and its possibilities. I was also interested in amplifying the public nature of a technology like twitter, because its publicness is easily forgotten: a very private gesture of clicking "send" on a tweet is a public act with lasting and wide reaching implications.
All this said, I have learned a lot in the past week about the limits and affordances of the technology and of my own attempts to create a public space in the context of a keynote address. I am now much more interested in experimenting with slight changes in the set up to see how the results might differ.