Thursday, November 4

Storming the Syllabus: Introduction to Culture and Technology
Activity leader: Anne Balsamo, University of Southern California

This activity explores and performs the affordances of face-to-face learning in a large “Introduction to Culture and Technology” class. How can a large co-located class of 200+ people contribute to collaborative, participatory learning? This session also introduces an application-in-process called “Learning to Love the Questions,” a semantic web application (a “reverse oracle”) that provides questions, not answers, about the cultural nature of technology. Tools: index cards, markers, butcher paper, a wiki.


200+ Students: University students; sophomore/junior/senior levels; ages: 18-23 (born between 1990-1994); Los Angeles; Private university; All majors; No prior requirements; have laptops; are not NECESSARILY "prosumers."

Key Learning Objectives: To enable students to learn....

1) How to describe key elements of contemporary techno-culture.
This is a categorical learning objective: What is technology? What is culture? How are technology and culture related?

2) How to describe the important elements of technological culture within a particular geographical area: i.e., the U.S., North America, the Pacific Rim.
This is a cross-categorical learning objective: How does techno-culture manifest in different contexts? What are the different ways in which people relate to similar technologies? i.e., the internet, the www, social networking applications.

3) How to use new technologies that are central to the reproduction of contemporary culture: wikis; desktop creative apps; social networking apps (which ones).
This is an instrumental learning objective.

4) How to imagine possible new uses for embryonic technologies. What needs doing in the world? What technologies can help? How do you know if something is unique? Does it matter? How does one acknowledge the influence of the past?
This is a creative learning objective to stimulate the development of the technological imagination.

5) How to critically evaluate the cultural implications of a potential new technology from multiple standpoints.
This is a methodological learning objective: to train students in the arts of critical thinking of something that does not yet exist.

6) How to make personal evaluations about what technologies to use in the future.
This is an ethical learning objective: to inspire students to think about the implications of their own technocultural fascinations and investments.

Live notes from event participants/leaders:

Students from FutureClass demoing the Classroom Attention Barometer--platform independence--ease of use--mobile and desktop--no registration--real-time--open source
What else has been done that is like this? Profs sometimes have after-class surveys, but not real-time. And clickers, designed for large classes. How is this different? Clickers cost $$, this uses existing technology. Clickers require profs to pre-process lectures/map questions and checkin points. This provides real time feedback at any point! Also allows profs to review data to see where attention flags--would have to figure out how to record and sync time with data.
How do you account for no one paying attention for a long period of time? How will you account for divided attention?
Possible--random check ins, timing out the "attention status" after an amount of time, prompts them to update their attention status

Interested in further development of Classroom Attention Barometer, get the source code, connect, etc. @