Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Clay Shirky bans devices

Clay Shirky has banned devices in his classes at NYU: no laptops, no tablets, no phones. A partial explanation:

There is no laissez-faire attitude to take when the degradation of focus is social. Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class  —  it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them.

Why I Just Asked My Students to Put Their Laptops Away (Medium)
I’m not especially impressed by Clay Shirky, who is, after all, the guy who declared that “no one reads War and Peace anymore (“too long, and not so interesting”). I’ve talked with many students who could have explained second-hand distraction to him a long time ago. But Shirky’s change of mind is noteworthy, at a time when at least some college faculty seek to encourage greater student use of digital technology in classrooms. Click. Click. Click.

I’ll invoke my mantra: Technology makes it possible to do things, not necessary to do them. That we can use devices in a class meeting doesn’t mean that we ought to. And the converse: Technology makes it possible not to do things, not necessary not to do them. That we can, say, replace office hours with Skype doesn’t mean that we should.

comments: 5

Marzek said...

"no one reads War and Peace anymore"
Well, Pevear did it no favors, and Dostoevsky is so much more interesting.

(Belated birthday greetings, btw).

Anonymous said...

"Clay Shirky' -- that little Dickens character!

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Marzek.

Clay Shirky . . . related to Phil Squod, maybe?

Slywy said...

I'm reading Our Mutual Friend, and for the first time in my life it dawns on me that this alone makes me an oddball.

Michael Leddy said...

I’ve yet to read it. I thought Bleak House would be the peak, but I’ve been told that OMF is.