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EdTech’s Norm Friesen looks at the ‘long now’ of educational change

Friesen’s eighth book, The Textbook and the LectureEducation in the Age of New Media, has just been published by Johns Hopkins University Press.Norm's Book

In this hard-bound volume, Friesen asks: “Why are the fundamentals of education apparently so little changed in our era of digital technology? Are we really just laggards? Is a high-tech ‘revolution’ just around the corner?”

He answers these questions not by imagining an uncertain future, but by examining a well-documented past—a history of instruction and media extending from Gilgamesh to Google. Friesen considers the long now or more accurately, the longue durée of centuries and millennia to understand the persistence of so many familiar educational arrangements and practices.

His investigation includes the way that reading, writing, and pedagogy are interrelated in the lecture and the textbook—from their pre-modern to their postmodern incarnations. Over hundreds of years, these two forms have integrated textual, oral, and (more recently) digital media and connected them with changing pedagogical and cultural priorities. The Textbook and the Lecture opens new possibilities for understanding not only mediated pedagogical practices and their reform but also gradual changes in our conceptions of the knowing individual and of knowledge itself.

 

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