GenX women in higher ed from around the globe

Posts Tagged ‘Knowledge’

Crowdsourcing lessons for academics

In Ana's Posts on 2013/01/10 at 11:59
Ana Dinescu, writing from Berlin, Germany

Academics, mainly those from the domain of human sciences, do not like to be reminded too much about various economic and business-like terms. However, some business models and ideas from the world of economics will help not only greatly improve the financial situation, but will also give a new impetus to the quality of the academic work as such.

For instance, one of the first incentives for academics could be towards a more organized system when it comes to writing financial proposals for grants. With the help of a clear plan of objectives, evaluated regularly – weekly or monthly – the scholar(s) will improve to a great extent their chances of getting more funding in the near future. Moreover, it will add quality to new grants and thus create a more successful academic life. As the economic crisis diminished considerably the sources of funding for academic research, mainly in the human sciences, the donors are most likely ready to offer the their support only to those able to cope with the highest standards not only in terms of quality but also those who are able to report as competently as any financial department of a company. Even though it might be a bothersome task – and very often it is the last thing you want to do it after reading thousands of books and reading hundreds of pages of research – doing so it is a message of appreciation for the work behind the funding one receives.

Another important lesson that the academics need to consider when doing their research is the lesson offered by the crowdsourcing methods. The term, introduced relatively recently into business vocabulary, is not such a novelty; even though the core of a book or paper is an original and new angle, it could reveal new aspects of a certain issue. When crowdsourcing, the viability of research is done through a system when the ‘crowds’ (meaning various readerships) give their feedback. This is how the peer review works and this is how dictionaries and encyclopedic works were produced. An example of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia. Even though it is not recommended as an academic source, it involves a multiplicity of sources produced by various contributors. The academics themselves can contribute to increase the accuracy of the information posted there; it is very simple to set up an account and to post information or correct the errors. Some academics may consider such an approach as too futile for their high academic concerns, but being an intellectual means more than being proud of your best achievements and your new book: it means taking stances and sharing your knowledge with the world.

Crowdsourcing your knowledge means also the acknowledgement of the fact that, beyond the hard individual work that each graduate needs to do for his or her academic curriculum vitae, there are other elements that need to be added for a quality work. One of the most important is to rely on the power of the feedback and the need to learn together with others. We do not become scholars overnight, only by going to conferences or participating in different discussions. However, most of the work is done through collaborative efforts and open discussions. Your knowledge does not add any value if not shared, and through sharing, you can help others to have a better understanding. You can also correct and even change your own assumptions. Teaching and sharing knowledge, as a teacher or as a scholar, is more than presenting your conclusions, bibliography and waiting for the others to accept or reject it. It means also understanding that it is important to learn from others and give them the option to share their own opinions.

This post was also published in Inside Higher Ed

Conference 101

In Information Minoration on 2011/03/31 at 05:48

Heather Alderfer, writing from New Haven, Connecticut in the USA

I love conferences; they allow me to be a registrar geek, among over 2,000 people, vendors, university representatives, and governmental policy makers. I was lucky to be in Seattle last week, amongst many other registrars, attending conference sessions on curriculum work flow and classroom scheduling at the annual meeting of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. I have been working in the registrar field (if I can call it that) for about seven years now, a few years longer than entry level jobs require. But this was the first conference where I felt I was beyond entry level in the Registrar’s field. I co-presented, not for the first time, but this time I felt confident in my presentation and my speaking voice.

I am learning to be a relentless networker. I enjoy meeting people and talking registrar-speak, so attending the Registrar’s Conference is a once-a-year opportunity to geek out Registrar-style. The first few conferences I attended, I hardly spoke to anyone, and I was amazed at what other schools were showcasing. In a few sessions, I was interested enough in the topic to speak to the presenter afterwards, but in my mid-twenties I hadn’t yet learned how to ask concise questions and hand over my business card while gracefully moving on to the next presentation. But gradually I got up the courage to talk to more and more people, and have now made several mentors, friends, and peers who I reconnect with each year. They are the ones I can go to when I am confronted with a new problem I’ve never seen before, or a new policy I’m not sure how to implement.

Unfortunately, there are few opportunities for mid-career development in small offices. Even in large universities, there are only a few people who do what I do. Thus, it is even more crucial to maintain relationships with peers at other institutions. Each university culture is unique, and each problem faced by Enrollment Managers will have as many solutions as there are institutions. But how to move things forward? How do I translate the momentum from all the new ideas and approaches I’ve seen from other schools into actual/realized changed at my own institution?

I return from the AACRAO conference full of ideas for new processes and new software. Only a fraction of what I’ve seen will actually cross my desk in the years to come, but it is so important to rekindle the passion for what I do, for realizing I do have a place in this profession, and that new ideas can win out over cynicism.

 

Places of Learning

In Uncategorized on 2010/10/06 at 17:09

Guest blogger, Melonie Fullick, writing from Toronto, Ontario in Canada

I’ve always felt that the physical environment of educational institutions — their colours, their spaces, their architecture — is one of the least-considered elements in the constellation of educational “success factors,” though possibly the most pervasive one.

Take, for example, the graduate program in which I’m currently completing my PhD. Just before I began my degree, the Faculty of Education—in which my program is housed—was moved from a concrete tower in the centre of campus to a newly-renovated college building. This seemed like a fine plan; however, it wasn’t long after joining the program that I realized the re-design had been a failure. While the Pre-Service Department was housed on the airy, welcoming ground floor, the graduate students’ space, consisting primarily of a computer lab, was relegated to the basement. This separated the grad students from the Graduate Program office and faculty—who were now sequestered on the second floor.

You might be wondering: other than the inconvenience of stair-climbing, what’s wrong with this arrangement? Everyone is housed in the same building, at least, and it looks clean and efficient thanks to the renovation job.

The first problem is that while grad students can probably work in almost any room with a computer, housing them in the basement—which is referred to as “The Dungeon” by some program members—is a poor choice because they will spend more time in this room than most other students will spend on the ground floor. Providing a pleasant working environment means more people will use the lab facilities, and it gives grad students an additional reason to come to the department from off-campus. At a large and isolated commuter campus like ours, this is important, because it helps to create a communal environment and to foster the social and peer support that is so vital to graduate student success.

The second problem relates to the same issue: physically separating faculty members from graduate students makes it more difficult for students to have informal, serendipitous and social contact with professors. So assigning graduate student space to the basement, in a room which is well-equipped but sterile and detached, means adding distance to the existing (non-physical) chasm that often separates students from faculty. Not that the faculty space is well-designed either—it’s standard academic architecture, a loop of corridor lined on each side with offices, following the shape of the building. Most of the office doors are closed.

Part of keeping students in a program, keeping them “engaged” with classes and faculty and other students, involves creating a space where they can feel welcome and included. I feel strongly that educational architecture—the “place” of education—contributes to the kind of educational experience we have, from grade school all the way to the doctoral degree. Institutional architecture sends a message, and affects messages sent; it expresses an idea about the function of the environment it helps create. In the documentary How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand suggests that while buildings may indeed “learn,” people also learn from buildings; our practices and habits, even our feelings, are shaped by our environments—and thus so is the work we do within them.

Amid the current cuts and crises in higher education, it may sound trite to offer this kind of critique. But with graduate school attrition generally hovering around 50%, universities should be taking more seriously the research about what helps students adapt to university life and to academic culture. The effects of physical space are very real. I think it’s no coincidence that in our program, students often find it difficult to “meet” a supervisor. After all, there are few real in-person opportunities to do so, outside of planned events and the classroom—relatively formal occasions.

While we can’t necessarily change the buildings we’re in, we can be sensitive to their use, to our adaptation to the context provided. And we can ask ourselves questions. What would the building look like if we began by asking how people learn? How do people meet each other and form learning relationships? If you could design your own workspace, your own learning space, what would it look like and why? This need not involve a major reconstruction project. If the university had taken these things into account before renovating our program space, the same amount could have been spent and things might have looked, and felt, very different.

Melonie Fullick is currently a Ph.D student working on research in post-secondary education, policy and governance. She previously earned a BA in Communication Studies (2006) and an MA in Linguistics (2007). She can be found in virtual space on Twitter [@qui_oui] and in the blogosphere [http://speculative-diction.blogspot.com/ and http://panoptikal.blogspot.com/%5D.

This post was also published in Inside Higher Ed.

So What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up?

In Graduate Studies & Students on 2010/08/20 at 23:47

Deanna England, writing from Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada.

“So what can you do with a degree in Cultural Studies?” I felt the deer-caught-in-headlights look come over my face as I realized that I couldn’t easily answer the question in the ten words or less the situation required.

I was alone at a theatre – a friend was performing in a musical that no one wanted to attend with me. I was happy to have the twenty minutes before curtain to get started on reading the first assignment in my newly minted-graduate program (Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” if you’re interested). Unfortunately, the woman next to me was chatty and mistakenly thought I was bored and in need of entertainment.

She asked me about what I was reading (and was surprised to discover that I wasn’t a high school student!), and what my program involved and furrowed her brow as she tried to wrap her head around the concept of taking a degree just for the sake of taking it. I wasn’t trying to become a “Cultural Studyologist.” I just thought that the program sounded interesting. I did recognize that in some hazy, distant day in the future, it would probably serve me well to have a graduate degree if I were to continue my career in a post-secondary setting. But most importantly, I liked the kind of abstract thinking that taking these courses gave me. It’s an exercise in critical thought that doesn’t occur very often in everyday life – outside of Academia that is.

So often we tend to get caught up in the idea that to engage in a Master’s degree automatically means that the next step is seeking out a PhD program followed by a life in the Academy. When surrounded by academics in this kind of environment, we forget that the vastmajority of students do not in fact become professors and researchers and published authors. And that’s OK.

Often I think that students can get immersed in the concept of what they’re supposed to do. What they should take to get further in life. But occasionally there’s simply the idea of education as a joyful experience – one that can enrich you as a person, and broaden your view on the world. There doesn’t necessarily have to be an end goal in view – one can simply appreciate a beautifully crafted program for the simple fact of its existence.

I attempted to explain this to the woman beside me, but I have to confess, I was grateful when then lights began to dim before our conversation was over. I didn’t want to have to justify myself to anyone. I was still reeling from the simple fact of being a graduate student, and having strangers question the validity of my life choices didn’t offer great peace of mind, as innocent as their confusion may be. Having the option to participate in post-secondary education is a beautiful privilege, and one of my wishes would be for the entire world to recognize its value, beyond simply that of finding a higher-paying job.

This post was also published on Inside Higher Ed.

I Need a Wife

In Happy Mondays on 2010/08/09 at 13:08

Mary Churchill, writing from Boston, Massachusetts in the USA.

My office-mate Jessica spat those words out in exasperation one afternoon as she raced into the office with a pile of papers to grade and I raced out, laptop and lecture notes tucked under my arm. We were teaching, working at administrative jobs, finishing up our dissertations, and also working hard on our marriages/partnerships. At that time, neither of us had children but we both knew that we wanted to find time to add a kid or two to the mix and we also knew that something was going to have to give.

Both of us were immersed in reading, research, and writing – in what Nicholas Carr calls “deep thinking.” We found that we had little time for taking care of our partners, cleaning our houses, and cooking fabulous dinners. We needed a “wife” to help us with the caretaking. We found that we could not do it all.

For many of us, this “wife” no longer exists. As a feminist, I am happy to see the demise of the subservient and self-sacrificing “wife.” Although I have made a wise decision in selecting a partner who does his fair share of the caretaking, he is not a wife and neither am I. Perhaps we are both demi-wives, doing the caretaking as a team.

I recently read Jen Howard’s brilliant critique of Carr’s The Shallows. Like Howard, I was struck by the unspoken assumption of privilege. I see the privileged “deep thinker” that Carr and many others mourn the loss of as an upper-middle class white man with a “wife” or caretaker. This deep-thinking “he” has the luxury of time for self-absorption.

“He” is not me.

He is not me because he is not simultaneously attempting to make grocery lists, read the latest book from Hardt and Negri, write up research, prepare for meetings, finish conference papers, respond to urgent emails, unpack and wash the laundry from vacation, decide what to make for dinner, and have engaging conversations with his son on topics ranging from volcanoes and the rules of chess to the Spanish names of fruit and why we should use our words rather than our fists.

The deep thinker is a solitary figure — sitting in his office, in his leather chair, pulled up to hismahogany desk, and pondering the meaning of life. He reads alone — in silence. He writes alone –in silence. He is a genius who creates original ideas that spring forth from his uniquely qualified mind. He is the protagonist of Said’s Orientalism – sitting in England, contemplating the Orient from afar.

Having the time to devote several uninterrupted hours, days, weeks, months, and years to a single task is a rarity. Perhaps it is a relic of the modern age or perhaps it is a romanticized view of the way we never were.

Perhaps the best ideas are not developed in this way. I like to think that Shakespeare, Da Vinci, and Michelangelo worked as leaders of teams. I like to believe that “a-ha” moments happen under an apple tree, in the bathtub, and during animated coffee-date discussions.

The present requires that we multi-task, collaborate, and above all, communicate. The majority of the people in the world have always had to prioritize and work with others. Women are finding that we excel at social intelligence, organization, and multi-tasking – skills necessary in today’s world. In “The End of Men,” Hanna Rosin asks — “What if the economics of the new era are better suited to women?” I ask — What if the economics of the new era are better suited to what Carr erroneously calls “the shallows”? (“Deep thinking” is not necessarily the opposite of shallow thinking and “deep thinking” is not necessarily smarter or better thinking.)

Perhaps it is neither the end of men nor the end of deep thinking. Instead, perhaps it is the end of privileging a narrow masculinist way of acting and thinking. Perhaps the focus has switched from an extremely competitive version of individualism focused on winning at all costs to a multi-tasking collaborative version of teamwork, focused on developing creative solutions.

However, perhaps it is the end of “man and wife.”

Mary Churchill is the Executive Director of University of Venus.



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This post was also published on Inside Higher Ed.

Can the Subaltern Tweet?

In Guest Blogger on 2010/06/28 at 09:00

Guest blogger, Ernesto Priego, writing from London, England in the UK.


I am not sure I could be writing these lines in any other language than English. It is very possible you could not read these words were I writing them in my native language –Spanish–, because there might not be a platform where I could –or perhaps want to– publish it, at least not without me as an author facing the danger of a negative critical backlash. I say this to state my awareness of a relatively privileged position, of me as an author of this text in the present form in which you are reading it as enabled by specific technologies.

The effects of colonialism still disempower individuals, often reducing them to roles of consumption rather than production.

How can we live up to the promise of the Internet and the Web without erasing each other?

I believe a way in which the subaltern can make herself heard/read/seen at a planetary level is through a conscious, often painful process  where individuals learn to see the English language and specific technologies as tools to think with and to do things, not just to consume things passively. This shift is also political: it means to stop seeing oneself as the oppressed of a given hegemonic power.  This shift does not mean abandoning,or even less, repressing national languages or cultural traits. On the contrary, user-generated online content, with metadata in several languages and geo-tagging can be an essential part of this process.

One of the goals would be the inclusion of this content within the network of academic knowledge production. This would work as an act of online self-determination, understood as the freedom of misrepresented individuals and communities to determine their own online content.

In other words, online self-determination is necessary to affect the wider international community of communities by populating the Web with tagged, hyper-linked multilingual content. Online self-determination can also mean one’s technical, and very importantly, financial ability to represent and edit oneself and one’s culture(s) online, and to decide how they will achieve online relevance/visibility/ranking without being overshadowed by more dominant national languages and/or economies.

Perhaps a community of communities may seem idealistic.

Disciplinary, social, geographical, national, linguistic and financial borders are realities that   internet access has not and cannot erase. Deeply rooted cultural traits/practices and beliefs are also obstacles to a practical critique of power dynamics in the language of those who are often perceived as the oppressors.

Computers are not places we live in, but they affect the way we think about ourselves and the planet.

Computers do not make the subaltern or marginalised individual think she can control the “globe”; on the contrary, computers can be windows to an inhospitable world. As means of establishing relations with Others, national languages and online technologies can both create communities and alienate large numbers of individuals. Simultaneously, computers have in fact transformed and continuously transform our ideas of who we are, what we do and how many we are.

A specific politics of planetary online friendship is at stake. Online decolonization and daily exercises of online self-determination are ways of befriending Others by acknowledging them as our contemporaries regardless of the time zone they might be in.

We start by recognizing our current positions.

The hyperlinking will follow.

Ernesto Priego was born in Mexico City and now lives in London. He is a PhD candidate in Information Studies at University College London. He has a background in English, comparative literature and cultural studies. His research sits at the crossroads of comics scholarship, history of the book and digital humanities.

 

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Why I am still away from academia

In Guest Blogger on 2010/06/23 at 09:00

Guest blogger, Ana Dinescu, writing from Berlin, Germany.

For a long time now, I have chosen to stay away from academia. It is neither a confession nor an excuse. It went simply like this: even though I continue to have a strong interest in everything related to intellectual activities of any kind, I decided a long time ago, that  becoming a full part of the academic establishment was never the first, second, or even third or fourth option for my professional career.  And this was and is a decision I will most likely continue observing.

One of the first things I became aware of when my capacity of social understanding was surfacing and expanding was my wish for a job where my joy of reading and spending hours in theoretical discussions of any kind, would happily meet with my sense of reality and aspiration for change. My idea of change – mentalities, ideas, people – was still vague, but I was very much aware of the need to go beyond the strict theoretical ruminations. In this case, what else could be more advisable than an academic career? Before taking into consideration this alternative, I knew that I wanted to become a journalist above all else. It was probably a sense of adventure, another kind of daily challenge and, at the time, a huge potential for change in a country such as Romania. I continued to follow my academic interests, with university and after a period, MA studies, while continuing to write about Romanian politics. School was offering me the analytical tools for better understanding and addressing the reality around me. Not always successfully, I must confess. Meanwhile, I remained attached to the academy, starting PhD studies, while making various career shifts in the middle of shifts in Romanian politics. At every decision point in my professional career, academia, again, was left far behind from the list of potential future plans.

As the daughter of a teacher, I am familiar with the pedagogical process, the tremendous work you have ahead of you every day and, not less important, the terrible bureaucratic and administrative challenges. From my friends and acquaintances active in academia, as well as from my direct professional contacts, I was aware of the hours spent dealing with time-consuming procedures, financial pressures and, in some cases, political mismanagement.

Far from being a garden of pleasures of the knowledge and thinking, academia is nowadays, in my perception, less about freedom and more about survival. Not a liberal career, but a professional plan restricted and limited by the demands of the market, as with any other job, independent of the level of one’s education. I am able to understand the mechanisms, but the more I am aware of them, the more I prefer to use my understanding and my energies for independent writing,   thinking on my own and discovering the world through written words. Most probably, being a part of the academic establishment will not be part of my plans in the next professional decade.

Ana Dinescu

Ana is a PhD candidate in history at the Faculty of History, University of Bucharest, with a background in Political Science.  She has been a journalist for ten years for Romanian daily newspapers and is currently a communications consultant, living in Berlin.

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Breadth and Depth: Finding a “Home” of One’s Own

In Information Minoration on 2010/04/08 at 09:00

I’ve noticed a common theme among many of the posts at UVenus about the lack of a sense of security and belonging within academia or even the conflicted process of choosing a single academic “home” –  whether in a department, institution, or discipline. I hope this post is not the final word on the topic, but rather that it starts a conversation about the meaning of belonging for women in academia.

Can breadth and depth be found in the administrator’s career trajectory?

There is a common concept in academia that students, as maturing scholars, should focus on a wide range of disciplines by taking “general education” courses across the curriculum and specialize in a particular knowledge domain by delving into a one area or topic through advanced coursework and (hopefully) original research. As scholars mature, they build on their specialized knowledge through a dissertation, and they keep up with the breadth by teaching introductory classes. Can, or should, breadth and depth also be a part of an administrator’s career?

I am just past the crossroads of a major academic and personal decision, and as I look back on my (still young) professional career and reflect on the future there is a distinct prevalence of breadth over depth. I’ve always had trouble choosing just one discipline, and have gravitated towards interdisciplinary programs. This leaves me feeling a little bit without an intellectual home, and makes pursuing a doctorate more difficult, since my transcripts range from the humanities to education to the young field of information science.

I’ve also been thinking about what is gained by being at multiple universities, and what is gained by staying in one institution. I have a close friend who did her undergrad, master’s, and phd in the same institution, back-to-back, while I’m now moving on to my fourth university. I’ve learned new things in each place, but I’ve also had the suspicion I’m skimming across the surface, and not really gaining the depth of knowledge which comes through time. With time spent in one place, or in one discipline, the nuances become clear. I anticipate the academic calendar like the seasons, and learn how to work with quirky personalities. Over time, one can build an institutional knowledge that informs current relationships and issues.

Working at several institutions, I’ve been able to look at problems with a fresh approach, and bring new ideas to the table where none were being considered. I’m more flexible, since I’m less tied to doing things a particular way. I know I can’t keep moving, and do hope the next institution will be one where I can absorb the subtleties, and in short, build depth of knowledge.

As educators, we want students to build upon previous knowledge, and stretch the bounds of what they are comfortable learning, such as Engineering students taking art. Working in academia allows me to keep building and stretching, to keep striving for a balance of breadth and depth, and eventually allows me to create my own professional and academic home.

Heather Alderfer

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Muslim Women Scholars and the Production of Knowledge

In El Ustaza (the Lady Professor) on 2010/03/23 at 09:00

During the past two decades, reform-oriented Muslim women scholars, also known as Islamic feminists, started “speaking for themselves”. Their voices seek to correct the narrow representation of their struggle and craft a better understanding of how to engage in a two-front battle (against Islamic traditionalism and Western imperialism) and the difficulties they endure. Their fundamental questions about Islam and women may help in transforming Islamic laws and bringing about modern, egalitarian Muslim societies.  Muslim women scholars are playing a key role in the reinterpretation of their religion and the modernization of their societies.

Faced with Islamic revival, more and more Muslim women intellectuals are finding it necessary and beneficial to engage in the dialogue about their religious and gender identities. They articulate a gender-sensitive discourse within an Islamic framework or paradigm. They use ijtihad (independent investigation of the religious sources) and tafsir (interpretation of the Qur’an) as their basic methodology in order to establish a new gender-sensitive hermeneutics in order to confirm gender equality in the Qur’an that was lost sight as male interpreters constructed a corpus of tafsir promoting a doctrine of male superiority, reflecting the mindset of the prevailing patriarchal cultures.

Critical to the work of Muslim women scholars is the role of spirituality and religious knowledge in strengthening and empowering the self and the collective to resist marginalization (i.e. social agency). Religious knowledge becomes the foundation for social transformation and collective struggle. Muslim women scholars evoke spiritual knowledge to transform society and challenge oppressive systems and structures.

Muslim women who claim authoritative and authentic knowledge should be able to use their intellectual skills to convince a skeptical public audience (Muslim men and women). This task should not be so hard as long as the sanctity of the Qur’an is maintained and that the alternative Qur’anic exegesis is rooted in the Islamic tradition untainted by either culture or gender discrimination.

Unlike other approaches to gender and social change, the “new knowledge” produced by Muslim women intellectuals could be the foundation of the most far-reaching and meaningful social change in the Muslim world as well as a useful mechanism for norms internalization in Islamic social settings. In contrast, in order to promote women’s rights, Western governments used strategic bargaining or coercion, and in turn governments in the Muslim world responded either by making some concession in order to increase their international legitimacy or rejecting women’s right as Western concept. In both situations, change was not gradual; norms were seen as imposed and alien to the local culture and hence rejected or not applied.

Riham Bahi

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Information Diet

In Information Minoration on 2010/02/16 at 09:00
The evolved human cognitive system has an extraordinarily sophisticated capacity for ignoring, filtering, and occasionally purposefully selecting information. (From time to time, some of us stand in awe as we witness multitasking students).

The question of whether or not laptops or WiFi are permitted in classrooms is increasingly passe. A more engaging question is: how are students paying attention and what is the quality of that attention? With a multitude of information channels ever present while they listen to a professor lecture, or while they study in newly-built library information commons, how has “paying attention” changed, and what does it mean for learning?

Taking a step back, what exactly is information? I’m currently studying Information Science, and I can’t quite grasp the enormity of information being created and available on my blackberry and my laptop, waiting for me to tune in to the stream. The average American diet of information was recently reported to be 34 gigabytes per day, the equivalent of 100,000 words. The question is: what is our capacity as humans to absorb information? At some level, this is synonymous with our ability to learn. As educators, we spend a lot of time thinking about how students learn.

Last semester, one of my professors stopped in the middle of a lecture, and asked the students to close their laptops, stop Facebooking, Twittering, and taking Sporcle quizzes. Another professor told us on the first day of class that he doesn’t care if we come to lecture, if we come to lecture and sleep, or if we come to lecture and look at Facebook. His theory is that students today absorb information in a variety of ways, and we know ourselves well enough to pay attention in a way that works for us. While this works for engaged graduate students, would it be the same for undergrads?

Although I am young enough to have brought a laptop with me to college my freshman year, the very nature of learning in the classroom is different today than it was twelve years ago. I no longer have a spiral bound notebook for notes and a folder for handouts for each class. Now I edit papers as they are being written by group members in a shared Google doc, record lectures and take notes in Word documents, and download my PDF readings from course managment systems.

How technology serves academic learning is an endless debate. As Rosalie pointed out in her post, students expect a WiFi-enabled library, feeding them a constant stream of updates and google searching to supplement their academic work. Students enjoy a rich information diet while learning.

Each year in January the resolutions for healthy eating habits spawn advertisements and promotions for gyms and the latest diet craze.  What are we feeding our brains? And what type of information do our brains want to absorb? What is our information diet?

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