Published: Learning and Performance Quarterly 1(3)

The third issue of the Learning and Performance Quarterly (LPQ) speaks to the area of facilitation, teams and mobile support systems. This issue discusses theoretical building blocks for researchers that have a renewed interest in teams and their support. The reemergence of this area of study is important as we move further into the age of social media, personal learning networks and global information exchange. Thank you to our authors, editors, and peer reviewers for their contributions to the Learning and Performance Quarterly, Volume 1, Issue 3.

The Learning and Performance Quarterly (LPQ) is an online, open access peer-review journal designed to make research available to the public and to support a greater exchange of global knowledge. The call for submissions for 2013 is now openhere are the deadlines for manuscripts for Volume 2:

Submission can be made online through the LP Quarterly website. For detailed submission guidelines and instructions on how to make a submission please visit Author Guidelines.

Happy reading,

Laura A. Pasquini & Dr. Jeff Allen, Founding Editors
Learning and Performance Quarterly
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Follow us on Twitter @LPQuarterly
Email: LPquarterly@gmail.com

#BookReview – Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom

A late add to my #summerreading list was Marc Prensky’s Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom. With the start of the semester underway, I finally found some time to review this book. 

Added to my #summerreading list...

The premise of Prensky’s new book looks at how technology is changing and enhancing our minds with digital wisdom:

“Human culture and context is exponentially change for almost everyone. To adapt to and thrive in that context, we all need to extend our abilities. Today’s technology is making this happen, and it is extending and ‘liberating’ our minds in many helpful and valuable ways. Our technology will continue to make us freer and better — but only if we develop and use it wisely” (Prensky, 2012, p. 2).

Prensky shares how technology will “change our minds” to learn new things and produce new thoughts. With our gadgets and technological capabilities, we are able to extend our minds, heighten our cognitive surplus, increase our thinking powers and improve our thought process and concentration. As Albert Einstein stated “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind [and womankind] is to survive and move to higher levels” (Prensky, 2012, p. 35). It might be time to outsource some of our brains limitations, including memory, storage, accuracy, complexity and prediction, to a technological source. Prensky believes that by using technology we have an advantage to be “better thinkers who make wiser decisions and choices” (2012, p. 52). Much of our decision-making can come from the symbiosis of the mind and technology.

Although technology is often viewed in a negative light, this book identifies ways we enhance our “digital wisdom” via technology. Prensky defines wisdom as “the ability to find practical, creative, contextually appropriate and emotionally satisfying solutions to complicated human problems” (2012, p. 45). In contemplating the arguments against this idea of being wise with technology, the author introduces several fallacies, including:

  1. “Human” as Being Special and Always Better
  2. “Genuine”
  3. Longer Always Being Better
  4. Privacy Always Being Better
  5. Depth and Always Being Better
  6. Slower Being Better
  7. “One Thing at a Time” Being Better
  8. “Brain Science” Providing All , or Even Enough, Answers
  9. Relying on “Tried and True” Solutions in New Contexts
  10. “Reflection” Being Slow
  11. “Expertise” Meaning “Knowledge and Analysis of Data” and of Expertise Coming Only from Professionals
  12. Short Attention Spans
  13. “Limited Capacity” and the Need for In-Person/Online Trade-offs
  14. The “Cultural Now”
  15. “Wisdom” as Coming Only from Humans

Throughout this book (especially in Chapter Three) there are a number of examples of digital wisdom to demonstrate how the mind and technology function well with one another. Also scattered throughout the text, there are a number of references to other great technology-focused reads – many I have on my “to read” list or just added. Here are a couple of suggestions you might like shared by Prensky:

The book continues to share examples of digital cleverness and digital stupidity, with suggestions and examples on how we all can be smarter with our technology software, hardware and digital presence. Prensky continues to share how to cultivate digital wisdom in our personal life, at work and finally in education:

“Cultivating digital wisdom means being intellectually curious and active, continually expanding one’s online universe rather than sticking with the same things, and continually bringing more of the new world into our lives” (2012, p. 182).

Although Prensky touches on his former definition of “digital natives,” he digresses to move towards the need for educators to get comfortable with developing wisdom in classrooms with technology. The skills identified with digital wisdom and technology include collaboration, teamwork, decision-making, taking risks, making ethical and moral decisions, employing scientific deduction, thinking laterally and strategically, problem solving, and dealing with foreign environments and cultures (Prensky, 2012). The final chapters discuss the real dangers, things to be wary of, acknowledging problems to fix them, and evolution of the human as being impact by technology and singularity.

Overall, I think much of this book summarizes the impact of technology and our brain power with gadget and tech consumption. Prensky presents a decent summary and tries to synthesize how our thinking, actions and learning have changed – by curating and compiling examples and theories in a digestible way for the reader. Although the concepts are not novel, I think a number of readers will appreciate the concepts put forth around digital wisdom and technology.

Reference:

Prensky, M. (2012). Brain gain: Technology and the quest for digital wisdom. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

**Full disclosure: This book was sent to me by the Palgrave Macmillian publishing group to review on my blog. Thank you for the read. **

Personal Connections in the Digital Age – A Book Review

Speaking of book reviews… there are a few texts I’m reading now that I will be submitting for #acwri projects and there are others I will blog about from my #SummerReading list, such as Personal Connection in the Digital Age by Nancy K. Baym

Personal Connections in the Digital Age #summerreading

This book was published in 2010 as part of the digital media and society series to share how new technologies are impacting our lives and altering our communication. As I research and compile information on digital media and its impact for learning and training for my literature review I thought this academic work provided a solid overview of digital relationships. By sharing the evolution of technology, mediated communication, and online community development, Nancy Baym presents both theoretical frameworks and historical perspectives about digital media’s influence on our society and personal relationships.

Baym provides an overview of interpersonal communication, and she threads both academic research and societal practices of digital media use in this book. As an academic text, there are a number of detailed references and theoretical underpinnings that I have flagged to follow-up as I edit my own literature review. For others who might not be researching and writing in this area, I think this book is still accessible and an interesting read as digital and social media consumes our lives. The technical jargon is kept to a minimum and the writing flows well with research, examples, and anecdotes intertwined in the text.

As I read this book, it was easy to reflect on my personal connections and how digital media shapes my PLN. I thought about how great it is to have peers and communities that I can interact with and play in – without being geographically close to them. I thought fondly of those relationships that have been either been initiated online or mediated digitally from a distance, and I am thankful for how digital media as evolved. I am able to communicate  and enage with a variety of networks/communities beyond e-mail, discussion forums, and IM (Thanks VoIP, video, web conferencing, photo-sharing, social bookmarks, blogs, Twitter, social networks, and much more!).

For anyone who is interested in personal digital connections and what it means to be “connected” to a learning network, I think you will enjoy this book. As  digital identities and online communities grow, it will be critical to consider the issues Baym introduces in each chapter:

  1. New forms of personal connection – identity of the self online and offline, interactivity on the internet, and reviewing social context for digital media
  2. Making new media make sense – emerging technology reflection, social construction, technological determinism, and how technology shapes the social
  3. Communication in digital spaces - how digital media influences communication and personal expression; digital mediums and modes; context of communication
  4. Communities and networks - online networks, shared practices online, social integration, relationship development, lurkers, virtual “space” and community engagement/civic action; networked individuals vs. the collectivism
  5. New relationships, new selves? - meeting new connections, digital identity development, authenticity, socially mediated/constructed relationships
  6. Digital media in relational development and maintenance - building relationships with those you met online, mediated relationship development – influences & effects, social norms and information sharing

A @PhD2Published Post: A Book Review is #AcWri Too

This blog post is cross-posted at http://www.phd2published.com/. Thanks for the invite to write, @dratarrant.

For graduate students and junior faculty, book reviews can be a way to dip your toes in the publishing realm of academic journals. Although peer-reviewed articles are the pinnacle for publishing and tenure, I do not think academic book reviews should be scoffed at. A book review is a great way to engage, comment, and contribute on a colleague’s work in the field. More importantly, a refereed journal publication review can be a fun piece to hone your writing, develop your analytic reading skills, and provide interesting insights for your fellow researchers to read.

Image c/o EricLanke

The process of writing a book review encourages academic researchers to engage in the literature. Often, the practices of summarizing chapters and restating ideas provides the book reviewer how to read a book to understand the author’s key points. A great book review will weave the text into the current academic subject.

Here are some general guidelines for book reviews I have seen in academic journals and suggested practices from those who are writing #acwri book reviews:

  • Read – Check out book reviews in journals that you might be interested in publishing in 1st. See what books are being selected for review & check out the format/style.
  • Good Publications to Review – Find a book that highlights issues or resources relevant to the field and/or subject of the academic journal you are submitting to
  • Describe & evaluate- focus on the book’s purpose, contents, format,  and authority
  • Not Just a Summary - Positions and opinions should be supported with a logical argument and review the pertinent literature. Highlight strengths and weaknesses of the publication, and why this book is interesting and/or useful.
  • Be constructive with your criticism. Remember to be kind and respectful to the author(s). A great deal of effort on the author, editorial board, blind review, etc. has been put into this text. Choose to be constructive with your criticism.
  • Provide your thoughts on the book – use quotes sparingly. Readers will be interested in what YOU have to say.
  • Share key ideas. What is the main idea of the work? What does this publication contribute to the field?
  • Review Your Review - try to read from the vantage point of your audience. Is there too much/enough summary? Does your argument or key thoughts about the text make sense?

Typically academic journals will accept book reviews for publications that have been released within the year that highlights issues or resources relevant to that journal topic, genre, or field. If you are lucky, some journals might even purchase the book for you to review. It would be important to select a text that would offer solutions or directions to the field, and it would be helpful to verify with the editor if the publication would be appropriate to review.  Sometimes, journals will give preference in the review process to book review essays that comment on two or more related books

In thinking about the book review requirements for the Learning and Performance Quarterly journal, I took a gander at a number of scholarly sources that published book reviews. Here are some of the common technical requirements* for academic book reviews:

  • Reviews of publications within the recent year, i.e. 2011 or later would be acceptable now
  • Include the title, author(s), year, publisher, publisher location, ISBN, cost, book format, and page numbers of the book(s) under review.
  • Keep it simple. Typically book reviews are between 600 to 2000 words (unless you are reviewing a period or series of books).
  • An abstract of 150 words or less might be required to accompany the book review.
  • Draft a short biography and/or contact information to be included at the end of your book review.
  • *Follow ANY and ALL other book review requirements for your specific journal of choice.

Happy #acwri reading & reviewing!

What They Didn’t Teach You In Graduate School… The #phdchat Edition

What They Didn't Teach You in Graduate School

I finally wrapped up reading What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School during my #summerreading stint. This is the first edition and there is now a 2.0 update. This book is geared towards American doctoral students and academics; however PhD’s outside of the US might find value with these 199 academic hints.

There are a few good hints scattered throughout the book for budding academics and PhD students. Here are a few snippets from Gray and Drew (2008) geared for myself and other #phdchat comrades:

The PhD

  • Finish your PhD as early as possible.
  • You must finish your PhD to move up the academic ladder. The world is full of ABDs.
  • Be aware that the key danger point in any doctoral program is the one where you leave highly structure coursework and enter into the unstructured world of the qualification examiniation and the dissertation.

On Writing

  • Learn how to write clearly.
  • Limit self-plagiarism.
  • One of the most useful things you can develop is a pool of research references stored in your computer [or an online storage space of choice].

On Publishing

  • Submit your papers (other than those you know are stinkers) first to the best journals in the field.
  • Write most of your articles for refereed journals [not for conferences, meetings, etc.]
  • As they say in Chicago, publish early and often.
  • Include single-author papers in your portfolio.
  • Recognize the delays in publishing.

Appendix A – The Dissertation

  • Don’t assume that if you are having trouble defining a dissertation topic that the entire dissetation process will be that arduous.
  • Put a lot of effort into writing your dissertation proposal.
  • Be skillful in whom you select for your dissertation advisory committee.
  • In doing a literature search, use the “chain of references.” Begin with one or two recent articles (a survey article helps!). Look at the references that are cited.
Obviously Appendix A, The Dissertation, is on the forefront of my research this summer as I finish the last of my coursework this Fall. Reading this book provided some great insights and motivation to continue to push through. The book was bluntly written and I found it pretty helpful to read honest advice and expertise from other academics in the field. This book reminded me of previous conversations I have had with my own faculty advisor, Dr. Jeff Allen. For those of you who do not have a faculty advisor or another academic mentor in your life, you should read this… and probably find an academic mentor. Doctoral students need an advisor/mentor (or two) who will give us both a reality check and support as we embark on our academic life. Good luck with your journey!

 

Reference:

Gray, P. & Drew, D.E. (2008). What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.