Work and Technology in Higher Education
The Social Construction of Academic Computing
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Since the early 1980s, U.S. colleges and universities have become extremely important not only as computational research and development centers, but also as field sites for examining the relationship between technological innovation and sociocultural change. In spite of this, neither academic analysts of technological change nor the broader audience of computer professionals have a full understanding of higher education's catalytic role in shaping the so-called microcomputer revolution. This volume makes a major contribution to that understanding.
In contrast to previous publications about computers in higher education -- most of which focus narrowly on technology deployment, use, and management strategies -- this volume takes a comprehensive look at academic computing as a sociocultural phenomenon. Conceptually and methodologically unique, it is the only collection of in-depth, mainly ethnographic studies of the "academic computing revolution" -- its consequences, meanings, and significance. Most of the contributors are university-based social scientists who have been at the forefront of studying computing in higher education, beginning over a decade ago.
The volume consists of a series of case studies, developed during years of careful fieldwork and analysis, that document the open-ended, socially constructed, interpretively flexible character of computer-mediated academic work. Drawing on core ideas of cultural anthropology, interpretive sociology, and the social construction of technology, this book also makes a contribution to the growing, multidisciplinary study of technology and society.
Work and Technology in Higher Education will inform not only educators and social scientists interested in computing and technology studies, but also academic administrators who want to understand the sociocultural context of technological change as a basis for better decision making.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. M.A. Shields, The Social Construction of Academic Computing. P. Lyman, Is Using a Computer Like Driving a Car, Reading a Book, or Solving a Problem? The Computer as Machine, Text, and Culture. S. Turkle, Paradoxical Reactions and Powerful Ideas: Educational Computing in a Department of Physics. W. Graves, III, Ideologies of Computerization. W.O. Beeman, Stalking the Art Historian. P. McQuillan, Computers and Pedagogy: The Invisible Presence. J.M. Nyce, G. Bader, To Move Away From Meaning: Collaboration, Consensus, and Work in a Hypermedia Project. K.T. Anderson, A.P. McClard, J. Larkin, The Social Ecology of Student Life: The Integration of Technological Innovation in a Residence Hall. M.A. Shields, The Legitimation of Academic Computing in the 1980s.
Work and Technology in Higher Education: The Social Construction of Academic Computing, will certainly become a catalyst for re-evaluating and encouraging further research on technology and its use within educational institutions. Shields concludes the text with what I believe to be the most important and provocative chapter of the book. Anyone curious about what is happening in higher education today will be attracted to the provocative ideas in this book. This book is a lucid and thoughtful compilation that should greatly assist such an understanding.
—Education Technology Research and Development
One common theme that emerges is that it is not the computer itself but teachers' beliefs about the computer that most often head to pedagogical changes.
—Technology and Culture