Week 1 Comments

Post your question/comment about the reading as a comment to this post before class starts on Thursday, January 13.

23 responses to “Week 1 Comments

  1. I found the New York Time article interesting because a lot of the technology it portrayed was created to benefit classrooms or eventually found it’s way into classrooms. I also thought the article went well with the line in Purcell’s intro where he stated that there is assumptions that new technology will completely replace the technology that used to be used for that purpose (fallacy of a total revolution). This can be been with the school slate and chalkboard. In 1900 the pencil was made and supposedly replaced the school slate. But personal white boards were created to use in similar fashion to the school slate, therefore the school slate still lives. It is now being thought that an Ipad is also a school slate just re-imaged but I feel like because an Ipad is the combination of so many other inventions as well (computer and calculator) that that may not necessarily be true although it is another tool that is being integrated into the educational field, and the question is whether Ipads will replace textbooks.

  2. I found both the article and reading interesting, as they fit great together. In the reading on page 2 it is stated, “First, we assume that the new technology will completely replace the technology we used to use for that purpose. Second, we assume that this replacement of one technology with a newer and better one is the only change that will take place. Third, we assume that new technology will only solve problems.” When thinking about these statements it is very true that this is what everyone is thinking as technology is rapidly improving. It’s important to realize that none of the statements listed above are true. As technology is improving new inventions never completely replace the old one, many changes are taking place as new technology is invented it changes many aspects, and as we hear about a new product coming out we automatically assume that it will solve all the problems, which is not true at all and it may not solve any problems or even bring about a better result.
    The book did a great job at giving an example of the understanding and mentioned that we use to always use railroads for transportation. Today people rely more on airplanes, however; we do still use rail roads today so it was never completely replaced. When looking at technology it is important to not just assume anything but look at the bigger picture and meaning behind it.

  3. I think that Pursell was spot on when he said that in recent years social history has been joined by cultural history as they seem to become more intertwined as technology becomes more advanced over time. Technology in the classroom discussed in the NY Times article is a great example of how the two have merged. I can remember having one Apple computer in our classroom as a kid that you got to play learning games on if you earned it via good grades or good behavior. If you were really good then you would get to play Oregon Trail. What a great incentive for a teacher to use to make kids want to learn and behave. I remember getting a “Speak and Spell” for Christmas one year and even though it was a game, I was learning while playing it and wanted to play it all the time. As a parent of two kids currently attending grade school, I definitely appreciate the technology being used now not only makes it easier for kids to learn but makes them want to learn which in turn allows them to learn more about different subjects in order to become more well rounded. Being able to Google something from their iPads or laptops in order to find resources for a paper versus having to go down to the library and find paper sources is a huge time saver and something that I wish I could have utilized when I was attending high school. Even as I’m writing this comment, my son is on his iPad using an app I downloaded for him to prepare for his SATs. Just as with the test results discussed in the article not showing marked improvement, I’m not sure if it will result in him scoring higher on his SATs but it is helping him prepare for them and the questions on the app are getting him to think in a more complex way. He is not a self-motivated student so the iPad has been a great tool to utilize for him. I still think that hand writing notes during lectures is more effective than letting students type the notes during class but with the right technology balance can definitely benefit students now and in the future.

  4. One thing that I think is becoming more prevalent in our culture is the awareness of some negative aspects of technology. Currently, we hear a lot about how it is rude to text when with your friends or illegal to let technology distract you while driving. I’ve always been a very critical person, so I enjoy reading Pursell’s discussion on how the technological fix is actually a fallacy, and technology can both solve and create problems in our lives. We view technology as something that we are not apart of, that we can separate ourselves from if we so choose, but modern technology as well as older technologies are so ingrained in our society that it would be impossible. Pursell mentions that we view our homes as an escape, but the technology we use to cook food and live our modern lifestyle is inescapable. Pursell also identifies that industrialization is a destroyer of the environment, yet another problem that technology has created. I am a big fan of questioning what we are using or doing in our every day lives, and Pursell has begun to do that through the eyes of social history and technology, so I think I’ll end up really enjoying!

    Question: I don’t quite understand the concept of social continuity. The book says that it is “replacing one technology with another will be the only change taking place.” What change is it referring to? Is this referring to a social context?

    • Isabel,

      The “social continuity theory” I believe can be summarized as: older adults maintain activities, behaviors, personalities, and relationships assiciated with their own earlier years of life.
      Other psychosocial theories are the disengagement theory, and the activity theory.

      -Does this help???

  5. I found the article to be very interesting. It was fascinating to see how technology has changed over the years and what has become necessary in society. From the school related items, it seems as if education has taken a higher priority at times , which is shown when the market targets students and new learning devices. Pursell however is able to play devil’s advocate and show how technology can be both beneficial and problematic in society. I do feel, however, that technology when used at the appropriate times can be a useful addition. Pursell also points out that technology comes out of need. Many inventions are not just stumbled upon, but are made out of necessity. These are either war or academic related. It is important to keep in mind that technology can also hold us back if we allow ourselves to become too dependent on certain devices.

  6. Looking at the New York Times article was very interesting because I actually was able to see how much our society has changed and depended on technology. I believe that there are many good uses for technology when used correctly, such as the XO laptop, or the iClicker. Pursell seems to focus on the more negative aspects of technology demonstrating how dangerous or destructive of an impact it may have. I don’t exactly agree, like Pursell, with the assertion that ” technology will only solve problems” (Pursell 2). Most people would not look at technology as a means for solving all problems but merely as a tool to enhance the way we go about solving those problems. I think that the point of technology is to create simpler or easier ways to help us in whatever way we need. In regards to school, having the presence of ever-changing technology can greatly help students learn better and be more engaged with the information. Pursell did a good job of explaining that to understand technology one needs to look at the history of how it was created and then see how it can join other technology. Overall, understanding technology seems to be essential in how we move forward as a society but regardless, there will be some negative impacts from the new technology.

    Question: What would be ways to avoid or control negative outcomes that are associated with new technologies?

    • Leah,

      To answer your question: I believe a true understanding of the technology would first be needed before one can control negative outcomes. For example: The 1/29 article about Dam Technology was eye-opening for many students. The ability to hold back water is seemingly a great idea however, as we saw in the Smith and Clancy article the technology was devastating to many farmers years later.

  7. I like how the learning machines evolved over time in the article. It makes me wonder about the evolution of other various devices throughout history. I would also like to mention that Pursell did a great job at discussing how newer technology does not necessarily replace the the old. You can even see examples of that in the NY Times article with the chalkboard and interactive whiteboard. My question would have to be: Is there anything that we have now that cannot evolve any further in the future?

  8. As I was going through the New York Times article I was surprised by how much of the technology I used in grade school had been created over a century before. I was also surprised by the order in which the technology was created. It was interesting to find out that the Scantron machine had been created over ten years before the creation of the handheld graphing calculator. Yet when I was in school, over ten years later, both devices were still being used. So to me, saying that one piece of technology becomes outdated and invaluable because of new technology is a false statement. This concept was discussed by Pursell as well as why certain technologies compound onto one another rather then replace them. In one example, Pursell discusses how European and African travelers brought their technology to America and then used it for daily laborious activities. They did not create new technology for this new environment but rather used technology that had been around previously. They did though, add new technologies to the old as they were created. To compare that to the case of student technology, smartboards may be becoming the new trend for schools, but many teachers still choose to use their chalkboard with the smartboard as a secondhand resource. In both these examples, people were using old technology in progressive environments and only compounding the technology, not completely erasing it.

    What I do question of Pursell is her statement “technology is the result of both choices and accidents.” I’m curious in what way she finds technology “an accident” because to me it tends to be created when there is a basis and demand for it.

  9. I think the fallacy of the technological fix in the Purcell reading applies all too well to the New York Times article, “The Learning Machines.” While new technology was designed to solve problems in the classroom, it also created other problems. For example, although the Scantron made grading multiple choice tests easy, it contributed to the rise of standardized testing and that series of associated problems. Many of the learning technologies portrayed in the New York Times article, especially those from the 20th century, reflect cultural understandings and expectations for education. The reading accelerator reveals that people of the 1950s stressed the importance of reading with speed, not improved comprehension. Similarly, the language-lab headset shows how people believed that the repetition of audio tapes was the best way to learn a language, despite the fact that language is also spoken and written. These examples show how new technology was introduced in the classroom to improve education, but ultimately stymied some types of learning because of broader social understandings of learning processes and the role of technology in these processes. Paired together, these readings emphasize the importance of critically examining how our understandings of technology and education shape one another. What are the shortcomings and the benefits of combining recent technology like interactive whiteboards, iPads, and iClickers with our current theories about how students learn?

    • Mary,

      To answer your question, one shortcomming I have noticed is that these technologies appear to adhear to a visual learning method. I am very much an audio and Kinesthetic learner, it does very little for me to see notes on a smart-board. I have to focus on listening to the discussion and manipulate the information in a way that makes sense to me for memory.
      If I kept a notebook or wrote on an Ipad, it would not help because the visual cues do not aid my memory.

  10. As is often the case when my grandparents witness my siblings and I using one of our phones, tablets, or other devices while they are visiting us, they will exclaim something along the lines of “kids nowadays” not being able to function without technology. My generation, they’ll say, has too much technology to know what to do with. Technology, as my grandparents understand it, is a recent obsession, with people requiring machines to accomplish what they might otherwise have been able to do themselves. Obviously, this is an incomplete and unfairly negative definition (and Pursell would be much better at explaining this to my grandparents than I would).

    Technology, as Pursell explains, is synonymous with human progress. I would consider myself and my generation as living in a “technological age,” but I realize how absurd it is to believe that ours is any more “technological” than other ages of history. The wooden writing paddle, chalkboard, and Smartboard are continuations of inherently similar technologies as well as indicators of human progress and culture. I found Pursell’s point interesting, that technology doesn’t replace itself or even necessarily improves upon itself; it just evolves along with us. The “blasted iPad,” (as my grandfather lovingly calls it), is not a replacement of the chalk slate, but a modification of the previous technology.

  11. I enjoyed the slide show and seeing the changes in teaching technology throughout time. I was especially intrigued by the changes in projection technology. I thought it was interesting that teachers have been using projections since 1870 with the Magic Lantern and, even though technology for projection has changed, the use of projection in teaching has stayed relatively the same. Simply seeing how we’ve advanced from the Horn-Book with only the alphabet on it to using iPads which gives access to virtually all knowledge was neat.

    In Pursell’s introduction, she says that when people think about technology they tend to think “toward the future, rather than the past.” Until I read this, I hadn’t really noticed that I’ve never thought much about the past of technology – at least not much further back than the 1950s. Reading through the introduction, I found myself becoming more and more interested in learning about where technology came from and how it’s changed as well as looking at how technology and society have influenced each other.

  12. I enjoyed reading both Pursell and the New York Times article. They both touch on different technology that has improved throughout its life as an piece of technology. Pursell discusses three mistakes (she calls them fallacies) that we make while predicting the future of certain technologies (page 2). This really stood out to me because I heave definitely thought that some of the reasons were true. The first one is that we assume that the new technology will completely replace the old. But the slide show proves that wrong with the transition from the school slate to the chalkboard. The school slate was still being used but the chalkboard allowed the school slate to improve. They both still had a purpose even though the chalkboard is the newer piece of technology. You could even say that about the chalk and the pencil. The pencil became another way to write just like chalk did. The technologies in the slide show also build on each other enhance the capabilities of the previous piece.

    Pursell also talks about how different groups of people used the different technologies in their societies. Each culture adapted the technologies differently. She mentions on page 5 that when Europeans brought their technologies over to America they changed the way they were used. She uses Axes as an example.

    She also talks about how other group evolved to use the technologies, how they broke social norms to start using them.

  13. I liked the New York Times article because it gives a timeline of innovative classroom technologies and with this timeline one can see how much or how little classroom technology and society has changed. This can be played back into the Pursell reading in which Pursell clears up the assumption of “technological determinism” (1). Pursell also states that it is “also true that society determines technology” (1) and that technology is what we choose to make of it, which is apparent with the classroom technology timeline.

    I did not know that Overhead Projector was invented and distributed in the 1930s. I thought it came about in the 1980s. There were other technologies that were in the timeline that I have never heard of before until now, for example, the Skinner Teaching Machine and Reading Accelerator.

  14. Alli Leibowitz

    I enjoyed browsing the NY Times article–however, I wish it did not end with the iPad, and it left a lot technology out and is pretty outdated now in 2015. However, I liked how the article pointed out technology that in more modern times, most people would describe as technology like a pencil or chalkboard. I wish the article gave a little more detail on the items, such as when they became more common in the classroom versus just when they were invented.

    I thought the introduction of Pursell’s book was very informative and I especially attentive to stepping outside the white male dominant lens that technology and the history of technology often fall into.

  15. I enjoyed Pursell’s focus on the study of the social and cultural history of technology. I think it is very important, like Pursell says, to study the people who used and experienced the technology that we will be studying. While the inventors are important, the consumers who actually used these products were the ones who are most affected will therefore make a more relevant contribution to social and cultural history.
    The New York Times article gave some unexpected information about when certain pieces of technology still in use today were invented. For example, the pencil, which people around the world use every day, was not introduced until 1900. I had never really thought about the invention of the pencil, but I assumed that they had always been around. Realizing that people did not use messy quills and ink out of a desire to be fancy, but because there was no other option, helped me to think a little harder about some of the technologies that I take for granted every day.

  16. In Pursell’s chapter and in the New York Times article both focus the progression of technology through time. The New York Times article primarily used images to display objects that the article considers as technology in the classroom and focused on the images in a purely linear way. Pursell however supports a broader approach focusing on technology in general and how it comes from both the combination of choices and accidents. Pursell also brings up the important idea that “society determines technology,” understanding this gives more background to why the changes you see in the New York Times article occurred in schools. As needs changed so did technology, which seems like common sense but often this idea is over looked because it seems so simple. Pursell again keenly points out another transition of how technology was originally thought to be more in the realm of adulthood, while now younger people are considered to be more technologically inclined.
    Defining the actual “history of technology” however for me was a struggle. I understood how Pursell mentioned all the fallacies people fall into, such as the fallacies of social continuity, revolution, and technological fix. However I was unsure of how to technically define it even after reading both articles.

  17. Ashley Beasley

    The article in the New York times was very interesting not only because it showed how technology has changed, but also showed how teaching techniques have changed over time. The timeline began with the Horn book paddle and the Ferule that were used for both teaching and punishment; the timeline ended with the IPad that is used to allow children to learn through electronics. I found it intriguing that technology for teaching has gone from a more hands-on approach to the use of electronics for a more less involved approach. The reading from Pursell raised a question for me since I am both a History and psychology major in relation to the New York Times article: How much will the evolving technology effect our interactions with other people when the technology exceeds the need for human interaction?

  18. Athena Tavuchis

    The New York Times article was really interesting. It opened my eyes to how much technology has evolved in our society. It showed how big of a role technology has become in the classroom. While the article seemed to show the positive aspects of technology Pursell seemed to focus more on the negative effects it has had and how our dependence on it could be considered destructive. What I took from both articles was that in relation to technology in the classroom, having developing technologies can supplement students learning and engage a student more and that to understand technology we must look at the broader history of its development and change while melding new technologies with old ones. When looking at technology you have to look at the deeper need and meaning behind it to properly understand it

    Question: What negative aspects of technology have you experienced?

    • Athena,

      Negative aspects of technology? I cannot stand dating a girl that cannot put down her cell phone. I enjoy talking to people face-to-face. I save the things other people generally text for personal social interaction time. I find it keeps the personal conversation more fluid and because of the fluidity, I am less tempted to text others. ( :

  19. The NY Times article introduces material culture but fails to answer key questions such as: “Where did it come from? How did it work? Who owned it and who used it? What effects did it have? and What did it mean?”
    Pursell suggests that technology is largely granted to adults in the community, however, the NY Times article suggests that a whole realm of technology exists solely for use by children.
    This Times article would be a great place to start research, however one would need to find a primary source that details each material. The detail about the 1925 film projector exemplifies our false assumption of technology. For example, the film projector did not completely replace the book, as Edison suggested. Edison further failed to predict the computer’s replacement of the projector. Furthermore, film can be used for more than educational purposes- Hitler used biographical film as a propaganda aid when he took power.