Ed Tech Reading Group?

I’m just finishing up Kevin Kelly’s “What Technology Wants” (I highly recommend it!) which led me to ask on twitter if anyone else who had read it wanted to connect to discuss it.

"The Kids Reading Together" - CC Attribution Share Alike Some rights reserved by Valerie Everett I didn’t get much of a response but I’m not giving up, and I thought I’d float the idea of a semi-formal “reading group” here to see if I got any takers. I know this seems pretty old school, and certainly if it was just a question of finding anyone else in the world who had read a book I’d just finished that would be simple to do, but context matters. Even if the reading group ended up being comprised of myself and one other person with some shared context, that would be a great step forward from reading some of these books on my own.

And while I called it an “ed tech” reading group in the title, I mean this in a VERY broad sense. My personal practice as an educational technologist is informed by many different perspectives – critical theories of technology, cognitive science, non-dualism and integral studies, emergence and the new science, and various approaches to critical pedagogy too. Part of the fun of forming a group like this is figuring out what to read together – those lists are by no means the only things I am interested in reading with others, but if you see something in one of them you are interested in tackling, let me know.

I don’t read very quickly these days. Or rather – I read so many different things at once that I don’t end up finishing them very quickly. Partly I’m hoping that doing readings as a group can help a bit with this, but I’m also no reading group fascist – we’re all working adults with lots of responsibilities, but if you find that reading, especially in topics slightly outside your field, helps inform your practice, then I’d love to head from you. I don’t have any firm idea on what form this group might take – a couple of google hangout chats? A group blog? We won’t know until we start. Drop me a line, either email or preferably in the comments below, if this seems like it might be of interest. – SWL

18 thoughts on “Ed Tech Reading Group?”

  1. Scott – I haven’t looked at your blog in quite a while. I came to your site looking for an earnest endorsement or critique of Connectivism, something I could show to a colleague who is interested. What I find instead is an appeal for a more traditional sort of reading group – intriguing.

    I may be interested, depending on where this might head. I was part of a reading group a couple of years ago called Motley Read (http://motleyread.posterous.com/) where we read James Joye’s book of short stories, Dubliners. I enjoyed that experience. One of the plusses in that group is that we were a bunch of novices and this activity was entirely a sidebar. It wasn’t aimed at helping with work, certainly not directly. Another plus was that one of the members, Chris Lott, put in a fair amount of effort to facilitate the group.

    Also, while I do continue to teach economics I’m now retired as a learning technologist so perhaps don’t qualify as a “working adult.” And I’m spending hardly any time these days exploring new technologies. My interests have gravitated elsewhere. I’d like to see articulated a coherent yet low to the ground social philosophy that could be articulated to the students I teach and then advocated for in a way that they’d find attractive. Perhaps the technology would be a part of that, but I don’t see it as the defining piece.


    1. Hey Lanny, yes it’s been a while. You won’t find any endorsements of “connectivism” here, nor really any critiques. I don’t know what it is. I use the term “network learning,” (sometimes along with the term “loosely coupled teaching and learning”) and have for years now to describe what I think is a similar phenomenon without any claims to it being a theory or manifesto. While I still think all of these very much represent how real people are learning everyday on the internet, I have mostly lost any interest in trying to persuade the formal educational system of their value.

      I know the Motley Reading group well and admired Chris’ efforts to get it going. He and I and Jared Stein tried something earlier around Joyce’s Ulysses. That is definitely one place to look for inspiration into how this might work. I’m open to others and don’t have any fixed idea or ownership of this other than simple wishing it into being with this post.

      The technology piece, in terms of specific technologies, isn’t of that much interest to me either for such a reading group. I’m much more interested in exploring how technology enframes us and we enframe it, of developing a critical stance that includes the perspectives of political economy, sustainability, social justice, accessibility, etc., in how we engage technological choice rather than the usual “instrumental” approach. I think there’s room for lots of perspectives and I know I absolutely depend on others to keep me “coherent yet low to the ground” so depending on how this evolves, hopefully it might be of interest.

      1. Scott – thanks for the comments about “network learning.” They are helpful.

        And here are two quick points of follow up. About a year after the Motley Read I read Richard Ellmann’s biography of Joyce. It’s not as hard as reading Ulysses but it’s about as long. It helped me understand what Joyce was doing with the writing and the relationship of that to his life.

        My experience trying to implement technology and pedagogic innovation in my teaching is that it works reasonably well with honors students but in the regular classes I’m now teaching, many of the students seem to prefer the traditional lecture. So my big issue is whether to cave into their preference or try somehow to jolt them into another approach.

  2. I’m game! In fact, I’m facilitating something like that with Uruguayan teachers, but focusing on short articles about networked learning. I definitely would enjoy something like this, given the broad sense you mention (which I share). I liked the idea of a Google hangout. Keep it small, keep it simple.

    1. Very cool Diego – the times we have spent together over the past few years very much represent the type of broad and deep perspective I love to see from educational technologists (and heck, “humans.”) Would be wonderful to do this together. Are there any titles in particular you are longing to read?

      1. Actually, I’m kind of looking for new things to think about, so at the time I’d follow suggestions.. 😉

        There’s this ‘Imagined communities’ by Benedict Anderson I ran into recently, and that I’m looking forward to read. It not that ed-tech related but I guess it’s a question of looking out for connections.. 😉

        By the way, at the time I’m also a slooooww reader…

  3. I’d be game with the same caveat as you – I’m a slooooow reader. Been working on Netsmart for about a month now. Like the idea of a hangout. I’d also be into doing some timed asynchronous blogging – pick a book, have a deadline, blog thoughts and leave comments. I often gather quotes and snippets from the books I am reading (https://kindle.amazon.com/your_highlights) in the hopes that they might make it into blog posts later but never seem to…this would be good incentive.

  4. I’m interested given the usual caveat of time…

    Like many others of my educational technology generation, my interest in the heavily technological end of the spectrum has ebbed in favor of interest in exploring ideas of technology and culture/personhood/agency/artistry/creativity.

    I read very little in the field of education and technology (or either independently), but I would join in for something like _What Technology Wants_ and _You are Not a Gadget_, or things even less direct–but just as important–such as _The Gift_ or _Reality Hunger_.

    And, greetings, Lanny. Good to see your name on my screen again…

    1. Chris, would love it if you were to participate, your approach to education and technology has always been an inspiration to me and indeed it was on your recommendation that I finally read Hyde’s “The Gift” a few years back.

      I would actually be up for doing Kelly’s “What Technology Wants” as it deserves a second, closer read. I went through my To Read lists and picked out another 5 or so that might be of interest, but will hold off posting these for now as I don’t want to curtail any discussion. When this thread starts to trail off I may set up another site to aggregate posts/try to organize things a bit, and maybe we can have that discussion then.

      1. I’m so amazed at how small the world is, hello Chris, that I’m game to try this. I did verify that the University Library has a copy and its not checked out. I’ve got another book that I should return soon so I will get this when I’m next on campus. And if I start to like it I’ll buy the Kindle version. I prefer reading on the iPad these days.

  5. I tried commenting earlier but, my internet spazzed out so I’m not sure where the comment went to…

    Even though I’ve graduate from college and mostly exist on the periphery of edtech conversations I’d be interested in the reading group. I know I’d get a lot out of it and I hope I would be able to contribute something good to the group.

  6. I’m slowly making my way through “Learning through Digital Media” edited by Trebor Scholz and have been thinking that having a forum to discuss some of the ideas in it and similar works would be interesting. I’ll see if I can grab a copy of What Technology Wants and read that next.

    Keep me posted!

  7. ok, so it sounds like we maybe have some takers! Which is very cool. Summer is fast approaching – if we were able to pick and read something over the summer months, that would be great.

    One of the fun parts is choosing what to read together. Already in this comment thread we had a couple of new suggestions from Diego and Chris and I’ve mentioned I’d be happy to go back and read Kelly’s book with others to dig in deeper.

    I’ve set up a small Google spreadsheet listing these titles and a couple of others that are at the top of my own list. You can see it https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ah68UXI2Wb8-dHp5cmJuMlA1NTRfcGpsLUp3c0xzN0E

    Have a look, and if any of them strike your fancy, add your initials beside them (feel free to add your initials to multiple items). Also feel free to add more titles – at some point we will need to choose and there’s always going to be too many good books to chose from, but at this early stage it’s fun to simply toss some ideas around. I am not proposing a straight “majority rules” voting scenario, but if we start to get a sense of which ones attract more interest we can have some discussion to reach consensus on the specific title. Feel free to use the comments here and/or in the spreadsheet to lobby for a title you feel strongly about, that’s half the fun!

  8. Eeek, I thought I already commente with a hand raise of interest, and thanks for Lanny for harking back to the reading of the Dubliners we did a while back.

    I want in….

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