Reflecting on Responses to “As We May Think”

Wondering whether an associative thinking exercise could weave together reflections from bloggers and gain insight into general and liberal education.  Answer is yes.

Information literacy as a learning outcome offers a hopeful vision of creativity and flow as students develop awareness of their own associative trails and perspective on those of others–in other words as they perceive themselves in context of other learners and dare to try collective learning beyond the print book. As they learn in these new ways, they find it easier to cross disciplinary boundaries and go after the kinds of wicked problems so many educators hope they’ll address.  They could revitalize the humanities through collective historical and interpretive work across disciplines and fields. Problem-centered, creative, engaged learning guides college education. How lovely is that!

Below are the passages I used in the exercise.  It was way fun!

Autumm Caines writes “for me it is a call for better general and liberal education. I think the first step may just be in realizing (and getting students to realize) that my internet is different from your internet. Where possible, taking ownership for our own ‘associative trails’ and demanding that ownership when it is kept from us. Finally, simply realizing that there are political forces and companies with lots of your data… which has always been the case but maybe realizing that they are trying to influence you in increasingly intimate ways” writes: “If we work to understand the hows and whys of information creation and flow, what I would call information literacy, then presumably we will be better able to review our shady present. That would  elevate my spirit. Until then, there’s always Aretha” “One for the Hippie Hub.” 

Morris Pelzel: “Jon Udell, I believe, used the phrase ‘context is a service we provide each other.’ I’m still puzzling out what this means, but I’m guessing that it refers to the ideal of accessing and processing information, not in an abstract and depersonalized manner, but within the context of other learners and practitioners in ‘trust networks.’ And that’s the difference between reading ‘As We May Think’ on my own, and working through it in this community, this network of fellow learners.” “Notes and Trails”

Erin Crane, Librarian reflects on actual challenges of working with students who prefer physical books to annotatable e-text in “Are We There Yet?”

Samantha Veneruso imagines ways to help students learn through integrative thinking and problem solving: “I can see how Bush was looking at the depth of information increasing, but as he talks about new forms of encyclopedias because of new associations of knowledge, I think of the idea of solving wicked problems, and the increasing intersection of disciplines– or the break downs of strict disciplines, which I think is characteristic of where we are going today in education or where we should be going today.” “Connections and Associations” 

John Stewart’s “Open Note Databases” observes, “While we certainly hope that our database will be used by and be useful to historians of chemistry, the real point of the project is to enable the collaborative epistemology proposed by Vannevar Bush. History and humanities more generally are dominated by the single-author article and monograph, so a system built to pool research notes may seem counterintuitive. However, we need to remember that the point of these publications is to share our knowledge. If we all share our coffee stained notebooks, idiosyncratic excel files, and shoeboxes full of notecards, we can engage in deeper and more nuanced studies in the history of chemistry and science more broadly. Without sacrificing traditional academic products, we can collectively populate searchable, interlinked reference guides that will accelerate research and model our methodologies for the generations to come.”

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