Book Review: Education for a Digital World

Education for a Digital World: Present Realities and Future Possibilities I just finished Education for a Digital World: Present Realities and Future Possibilities Education for a Digital World: Present Realities and Future Possibilities and I was terribly disappointed and do not recommend the book. From start to finish, and I forced myself to finish, Education for a Digital World was a laborious read which made me want to scream at the editors Rocci Luppicini and A.K. Haghi at least once in every chapter.

Education for a Digital World is a collection of works by 10 contributors. Seven contributors are from the University of Ottawa, Canada and three from the University of Guilan, Iran which added a bit of freshness to the ideas even though they are dated.

I thought Education for a Digital World: Present Realities and Future Possibilities was trying to demonstrate the effects of the Internet and Web 2.0 technology on individuals and society which have occurred thus far and how it will likely progress. I thought they would use that as a foundation for how Education as a system and its methods will need to change.

Instead, the book was a non-linear and often chaotic random disjointed presentation of repetitive thoughts and long winded explanations of the obvious that never really delivered on the author’s own view of what the book was about. According to the authors, the book is divided into three main areas:

  1. e-Technology standards and practices within and beyond the walls of the institution
  2. New approaches to instructional design and teaching around the use of technology inside the classroom and through distance learning
  3. Experiences and challenges of students growing up in a technology infused educational system

The impression I got while reading the book was that it was divided into two main areas of focus. One area would be everything that is instructional technology and delivery systems which emphasizes the LMS and distance education. The other area would be their idea of a Student 2.0.

As a practical matter, the book relies on two central themes in covering these two areas of focus. One is engineering curriculum and the other is the application of collage inquiry and self-study inquiry research methods. In fact, there are 27 collage images in the book but not a single picture of a smartphone or multi-media teaching station.

And yet, the overarching characteristic of the entire book is that it was all dated and reflected the vary narrow experience of its authors. Authors that tried too hard to create a scholarly book filled with parenthetical clarifications (which were tiresome) and references.

At 206 pages there are over 380 reference citations and suggested readings. Yet, despite being a newly published book about the present and future digital world only 6 of the 380+ most current references were from 2010 while the majority of references were from 2009 or earlier, way earlier.

The fact that I actually analyzed the references is very telling. So is the fact the authors presented the chapter “Student 2.0: A Look at Student Values in a Digital Age” based on research done in 2003 and earlier. And so too with the chapter “Beyond the Classroom Walls: A review of the Evidence on Social Networking and Youth” which accounts for nearly 25% of the references relies heavily on research from 2008 and 2009 based on the earliest versions of Facebook, MySpace, instant messenging, and chat rooms. If that was Student 2.0 then we be on Student 3.0 by now.

Several chapters on e-Learning and distance learning are also based on software products, standards, and research from 2005 and 2008 creating another major weakness. This could of course be solely due to delays in publishing but it doesn’t change the relevancy of the information being severely weakened if not minimal.

In other words, this book draws on research published mostly before 2008-2009, That’s over 3 or 4 years ago which is a generation in the technology lifecycle and the current digital world.

So if you were to act on the insights and specifics of this book you would be working to create the past not the likely future of educating students for the digital world of today or tomorrow.

Perhaps with a little editing the authors could republish this book as “The History and Evolution of eLearning”, or “The Infancy of Social Media in Education”, or “Why Faculty Love Collage Projects” (OK that last bit may have been too much).

So I really didn’t like the substance of the book and I difficulty finding a way to enjoy it. I don’t even imagine most faculty will find it useful or inspiring. But I will say that if you are a patient reader and want to explore how some faculty think about academic or instructional technology or how to use collage’s for self-study, then give it a go – I just don’t recommend it.

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