NMC 2006: New Media in Higher Education: Students Looking Forward

After some general introductions and thanks to the institutions sponsoring this year's conference, we started off with our keynote, which was given by Brenda Laurel of Sun Microsystems. Brenda is a “designer, researcher and writer” according to the program notes. She's got a background in Theatre, which is good, and has published on human-computer interactions.

Brenda can break things by looking at them.

Brenda argued that computing is like writing – it's ubiquitous and should no longer be considered separate from educational activities. Brenda's had experience with girls and technology, and while there's something “sexy” about computer nerds, and we love them, we need people who use computers like they use language, like they use movement. When we look at today's kids, they are already competent.

It's not technology that drives them. It's community. Brenda recommends Millennials Rising. Students today are social innovators, content creators, and change agents in a socially responsible way.

Envisioning the Future With Media Technologies

The best way to get things done is to have a vision of the future that's ambiguous enough to allow the details to change but articulated enough to share with everyone. Get the vision, then imagine the technologies that support that vision.

Brenda presented a process model that can be used across disciplines to talk about change.

Process Model

  • Challenge
  • Research & Analysis
  • Values & Creative Leap
  • Narrative
  • Strategy
  • Examples

How do we engage the world?

  • Quality of life
    • One Dog – Working to reduce the number of animals put down in Los Angeles every year.
    • On the Map – Helping kids make transitions as they move with the military.
  • Learning
  • Human Augmentation
  • Strange Design
  • Social Justice
  • Urbanism
    • “The spectacle of trade and the spectacle of prayer” – a balance between both is necessary in Islam for stability.
  • Play
    • BOBI – a large scale guitar, running shoes networked with other runners (green shoes mean you're ahead)
    • BLUX – media messages, social intelligence and manliness
      • reactive toys, with sensors powered by renewable energy, built around a story and quest involving heroism. Using renewable energy to send power back to the Solarians.

In the end,it's not about comptuers. Learning what you need to know to follow your dream to change the world.

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