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The False Promises of the Digital Revolution

How Computers transform Education, Work, and International Development in Ways that are Ecologically Unsustainable

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C.A Bowers

The False Promises of the Digital Revolution examines what currently goes largely unnoticed because of the many important uses of digital technologies. While many people interpret digital technologies as accelerating the global rate of progress, C. A. Bowers focuses attention on how they reinforce the deep and ecologically problematic cultural assumptions of the West: the myth of progress, the substitution of data for different cultural traditions of wisdom, the connections between print and abstract thinking, the myth of individual autonomy, the conduit view of language that hides how words (metaphors) reproduce earlier misconceptions, and a Social Darwinian justification for colonizing other cultures that is now leading to armed resistance – which, in turn, strengthens the ties between corporations, the military, and the computer science industry. The book also investigates how to understand the cultural non-neutrality of digital technologies; how print and the emphasis on data undermine awareness of the tacit information pathways between cultural and natural ecologies; and how to identify educational reforms that will contribute to a more informed public about the uses of digital technologies.
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Appendix: How the Online Revolution in Higher Education Will Lead to the Elimination of Faculty

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Appendix

How the Online Revolution in Higher Education Will Lead to the Elimination of Faculty

In a syndicated New York Times op-ed titled “Come the Revolution,” Thomas Friedman claims that world of higher education is poised to enter a period of revolutionary change. His sense of certainty as well as the evidence for what he interprets as revolutionary change in higher education will be convincing for readers concerned with the huge debt students are now taking on, especially when they study at the elite universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and even at state universities. The convenience of taking online courses, especially when the cost is reduced to $100 per course also gives credibility to Friedman’s announcement of the coming revolution (actually, online university degrees have been offered for several decades, with the British Open University being a prime example). Friedman cites the example of the new online platform developed by two professors at Stanford University, and how one of the originators, Andrew Ng, taught a course on machine learning that was taken by 100,000 students from around the world. The low cost to students, the international reach of online courses, the prospects of obtaining a university degree without being burdened for life with a huge debt, the interactive nature of students with students and with professors, the way in which student performance can be machine evaluated, how the low cost of online courses combined with tens of thousands of students hugely improves...

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