Kleinman, Sharon, editor. The Culture of Efficiency.

2009. New York:

Peter Lang ISBN 9781433104206


Pages 187-88 from “E-tymology of Inefficiency” by Michael Bugeja

The most effective rather than efficient mode of education is to transform our learners intellectually rather than to engage them digitally. The goal is inspire students to make education a lifelong experience and experience lifelong education. Machines calibrate, calculate, and simulate. But they not transform. Teachers do. Teachers also have a moral obligation to instill in learners a sense of commitment rather than engagement, because they will need commitment to meet the challenges of the warring, starving, thirsting, and suffering developing countries that do not require the "One Laptop per Child" program of Nicholas Negroponte, lost in his own technostalgia; they need One Net per Child to prevent malaria. In a few years, Americans, too, will undergo social change on a level not seen before in modern times. There is only so much time before the abundance that has allowed our amusements will deplete, along with oil, food, fuel, and water. The more we focus on engagement, the more we delude ourselves about the state of the world and the global economy.

This is why I am challenging the educators reading this text to set the standard for higher education: I am asking you to disengage digitally, over] your curricula to facilitate critical thinking, and temper your use of technology so that your efforts over time result in reductions in tuition and fees. I am asking you to endorse the pedagogy of commitment, rather than the cottage industry of engagement, so as to prepare learners for the challenges that they will encounter. I am asking you to double your efforts at cost containment so that college enrollment rises in inverse proportion to the tuition base.

The irony of technological disengagement is a reduction in workload precisely because our pre- Internet standards were more effective as well as efficient. Educators who recommit to them will also regain time spent frittering with inefficient technology. They can refocus coursework and enjoy more time to do research, mastering their disciplines, updating lesson plans and advising and engaging students in their offices rather than online. They can assess technology empirically to ascertain which systems actually enhance our educational missions rather than investing in the latest technical toy and learning, in the end, that it could not deliver what promoters promise. Finally, I hope that I and other authors in this book have proved that written word still can engage the mind, whose journey is sparked more the breadth of interpersonal actions than by the bandwidth of interactive ones, and by the content of our character more than by the pixel of our avatars.

Pages 207-08 from “Mobile Learning in the Digital Age – A Clash of Cultures” by Letizia Caronia and Andre H. Caron

From the students' point of view, efficient learning does not imply transforming every single moment and place into a learning environment, nor does it imply demolishing the boundaries between formal and informal education. Rather, efficient learning implies differentiating the ways and the contexts ere popular culture and academic culture are consumed. What may be and actually is relevant for an efficient social life, multitasking, mobile consumption of culture, mobile networking, and even the use of the iPod are not necessarily relevant for efficient academic life, and vice versa. These differences are not ontological, nor do they represent permanent and essential traits of academic and social life. Rather, they operate on a symbolic level: they are the differences that make the difference and thus give order and and organization to everyday life. Although local and symbolic, this way of differentiating and defining which processes and technologies belong to which contexts and activities is part of students' culture, and differs from the basic assumptions of the mainstream culture of education.

Elucidating these cultural differences is not an argument for or against the integration of mobile devices into the teaching and learning process. The cultural frames of reference and the interpretive repertoires that are at stake in an educational context may change over time, and technological innovation contributes to such change. Yet these frames of reference and interpretive repertoires remain relevant factors in the process of technology adoption in education.

By subverting the logic inscribed in the technology, by defining the learning process and environment according to their specific worldview, the students involved in our study diverted the educational project from the trajectory anticipated by the professors and even by the research team. In so doing they revealed the crucial, albeit often unnoticed, role of culture and of human intentionality in the appropriation of a technology. This finding has ho theoretical and practical implications. From a theoretical point of view, · leads us inexorably away from any deterministic or functionalistic approac±. to technological innovation in education. This process - like any educational process - has an unavoidable degree of indeterminacy as it depends on the unique ways people interpret technologies and make sense of the learning process. Taking into account human agency and individuals' intentionality thus becomes imperative for understanding and even foreseeing technological innovation in education.

From a practical point of view, our results underscore the risks of innovating without knowing. Before launching extensive and expensive programs promoting the adoption of mobile devices, institutions, leaders, policy makers, and professors need to take into account the different operational cultures that prevail in their educational context. Also, they should not presume that a technology is a mere tool endowed with functions and utilities. As we have seen, technologies also carry praxis and have symbolic functions am meanings. Their use, and even definition, is always cultural, that is to say it is mediated by the cultural frames of reference the users live by. The efficiency-oriented culture of contemporary educational institutions and the students' specific culture are not necessarily the same. It is perhaps this cutural clash that could illuminate the reasons for different perceptions related to managing, exploiting, and even resisting the contemporary mobile turn in education.

Pages 226-27 from “Procrustian Pedagology – The Architecture of Efficiency in a New Medium” by Julian Kilker

Although online pedagogical environments have the potential to be more flexible and efficient than their physical precedents, this potential has yet to be realized in what appears to be thus far a surprisingly Procrustean approach to teaching and learning.

This case study indicates that (1) the design of the major commercial learning management systems limits their efficient use in practice; (2) these limitations, while in many cases technically minor, can in aggregate shape how people use the system; and, ultimately, (3) that such limitations result from simplistic understandings of efficiency that privilege specific perspectives – in particular, technical and administrative - among the multiple groups of people that the technology connects. These notions of efficiency are less apparent than with existing physical environments because learning management systems are conceptually opaque ("black boxes") to users, like many consumer technologies (Kilker, 2003). People who do not understand a technology do not appreciate how it can be modified or further optimized; the converse is true, too (Kilker, 2007).

Learning management systems shape educational interactions, and their designs have important implications for how people understand education and structure teaching situations. When analyzing what makes an environment for education efficient, we must ask, "efficient for whom?" and incorporate experiences from related contexts (for example, architecture and usability design) as well as encourage spirited discussion among the groups of people who will use the technology, much as the public design charrette is used in urban planning to incorporate perspectives from multiple stakeholders.

Page 297 from “Mind Over Multitasking: What Would Buddha Do?” by Peg Oliveira

The pressure and pace of the current culture of efficiency seem almost purposely intent on obstructing our ability to stay mindful. There are innumerable incentives to work harder and faster and little encouragement to slow down and experience life. If these outer forces are not enough, there are powerful inner forces that sabotage our attempts to create calm in the midst of a chaotic world. At the core is the monkey mind, obsessed with thinking, judging, planning, and doing. The reality is that no matter how still we can be on the meditation cushion or off, doing is always happening. The point is not to become non-doers, but, rather, to relate to our doing in the most healthful way possible. Mindfulness is the space within which the doing takes place. A culture of efficiency is not synonymous with a culture of busyness. The gift of mindfulness is the efficiency that is derived from maintaining balance between a deep connection to our actions, being in touch with our feelings about the actions, and getting things done consciously.