Those who know my work with digital media may be surprised to read that I largely support this remark by Mark Bauerlein in his article Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind: Slow reading counterbalances Web skimming in the Chronicle of Higher Education (19 Sept 08):
—given the tidal wave of technology in young people's lives, let's frame a number of classrooms and courses as slow-reading (and slow-writing) spaces. Digital technology has become an imperial force, and it should meet more antagonists. Educators must keep a portion of the undergraduate experience disconnected, unplugged, and logged off. Pencils, blackboards, and books are no longer the primary instruments of learning, true, but they still play a critical role in the formation of intelligence, as countermeasures to information-age mores. That is a new mission for educators parallel to the mad rush to digitize learning, one that may seem reactionary and retrograde, but in fact strives to keep students' minds open and literacy broad. Students need to decelerate, and they can't do it by themselves, especially if every inch of the campus is on the grid.
I don't agree with restraining the digitizing of classrooms, which Bauerlein also calls for, but I do agree with ensuring there's a mix of learning spaces available. I also think that teachers should have the imagination to sometimes teach outside of the classroom altogether. In my own case, I teach mostly online and am constantly struggling with ways to bring that slower and more physical engagement into the learning experience.
Most of Bauerlain's approach is the same-old same-old but I do think we must pay attention to the need for slow spaces both in teaching and in life. Slowness is certainly a vital element of transliteracy.
Thanks to Mez at Facebook for the link to Bauerlain's article.