PERSONAL VIEWS OF TLP:
TEACHING, LEARNING, AND PLAYING!
Charles F. Urbanowicz
Department of Anthropology
and
Kathy Fernandes
Technology and Learning Program
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929
20 September 1996 [1]

ORIGINAL SUBMISSION STATEMENT
CONFERENCE STATEMENT
INTRODUCTION
TECHNOLOGY/TEACHING
LEARNING/LOVING
PROGRAM/PLAYING AND TLP
SEMI-CONCLUSIONS
CONCLUSIONS

ORIGINAL SUBMISSION STATEMENT


The Technology and Learning Program (TLP) has made an impact on this campus, yet TLP can stand for something else: Teaching, Learning, and Playing. The rationale for the creation of the TLP facilities (and gathering the vital individuals to work with faculty and staff) was an excellent one but the co-authors of this 45 minute presentation encourage campus users to go beyond the original goals of TLP and to also think about Teaching, Learning, and Playing. By the end of this century (or even this year), education will radically change and everyone concerned with education had best be prepared to change. Both co-presenters believe that we can learn quite a bit by "playing" around with the new technologies. The illusion of consistency is no more, perhaps initially shattered by Charles Darwin's 1859 publication of the Origin of Species and brought to a particular 20th century fruition by Marshall Mcluhan! We must be ready to deal with change and this proposed September 1996 CELT presentation deals with ideas and techniques concerning (a) the appropriate uses of new technologies available in TLP (and elsewhere on campus), (b) designing course syllabi (utilizing some of the new technologies and the idea of the "World Wide Web"), (c) the importance of faculty-staff research activities, and (d) conveying the amount-of-time and teamwork which is necessary for such a project! One co-presenter is an expert in numerous new technologies and one co-presenter has been interested in various technologies for several years. The objectives of this September 1996 CELT presentation will be (a) to stress the appropriate uses of new technologies, (b) the value of collaborative teamwork in the learning situation, as well as (c) the need for play (or time for experimentation). The 45 minute format will a lecture (augmented by videotapes and a Power Point Presentation, followed by a discussion). The intended audience will be any individuals interested in TLP which can be used for classrooom teaching. [~328 words]


CONFERENCE STATEMENT

TLP is the Technology and Learning Program but it is also Teaching, Learning, and Playing. Discussion of technology and teamwork for individuals interested in TLP.

INTRODUCTION


"Go to the place where the thing you wish to know is native; your best teacher is there. Where the thing you wish to know is so dominant that you must breathe its very atmosphere, there teaching is most thorough, and learning is most easy. You acquire a language most readily in the country where it is spoken; you study minerology best among miners; and so with everything." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [1749-1832])


These translated words of the German author and scientist, Goethe, almost serve as an excellent introduction to the philosophy behind TLP: The Technology and Learning Program; indeed this entire CELT (Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching) Conference contributes to an understanding of using Goethe's phrase for an introduction to the TLP facilities in the MLIB (003) as opposed to the words of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) in The Divine Comedy: "All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

The Technology and Learning Program, part of Information Resources at California State University, Chico, is a new and important program and both us us have a deep comittment to TLP and we both adhere to the alternative expansion of the TLP letters: Teaching, Learning, and Playing! We also both believe in Howard Gardner's ideas of "multiple intelligences" (from his 1983 seminal publication entitled Frames Of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. We also advocate the ideas of Peter Vail who discussed various ways of "learning" in his 1996 publication entitled Learning As A Way Of Being: Strategies For Survival In A World Of Permanent White Water. While the "white water" reference has nothing to do with presidential-poltics, Vail does use the phrase to refer to "events that are surprising, novel, messy, costly, and unpreventable" (1996: 14) and his seven ways of learning are (1) self-directed, (2) creative, (3) expressive, (4) feeling, (5) on-line, (6) continual, and (7) reflexive. While all types of Vail's learning modes cannot be addressed here, the book is called to your attention. We will, however, touch upon various aspects of "learning" available in TLP and adhere to his definition of learning as "Changes a person makes in himself or herself that increase the know-why and/or the know-what and/or the know-how the person possesses with respect to a given subject." (Peter Vail 1996: 21) The aforementioned Gardner publication discusses intelligences such as (1) linguistic, (2) musical, (3) logico-mathematical, (4) spatial, (5) bodily-kinesthetic, and (6) personal intelligences. Various types of "learning" and various types of "intelligences" take part in TLP.

It should be clear, therefore, that both "learning" and "intelligence" are muti-faceted endeavors and TLP (or the Technology and Learning Program) cannot be all things to all individuals; what it can provide, however, is an excellent environment for those who wish to learn about some of the latest computer capabilities as they (a) may be applied to the on-campus classroom situation, (b) as they might apply to the off-campus distant learner, and (c) as they might contribute to grants and contracts and off-campus research and employment opportunities available via the WWW. TLP can be a lot of things and Vail's "permanent White Water" phrase mentioned above ("events that are surprising, novel, messy, costly, and unpreventable") is applicable to industry as well as the domain of California State University, Chico.

As we recognize that there are various "intelligences" within the single individual so should we recognize that what we call "learning" for some individuals may well not be "learning" to other individuals and what we call "play" to some individuals might not be considered "play" to other individuals. Charles Darwin (1809-1882), mentioned in the original submission statement for his 1859 publication entitled The Origin of Species, "played around" for many years before he became famous (and Gardner recently uses Darwin's work and ideas as an example of one type of intelligence as reported in the September 16, 1996 issue of Business Week, page 105).

 

TECHNOLOGY/TEACHING

Although his cartoon-book might be dismissed for its (often) fruitful (and somewhat honest) portrayal of the business word, Scott Adams did end his most recent The Dilbert Principle publication on an extremely positive (and important) note:

"Make sure your employees are learning something every day. Ideally, they should learn things that directly help on the job, but learning anything at all should be encouraged. The more you know, the more connections form in your brain, and the easier every task becomes. Learning creates job satisfaction and supports a person's ego and energy level" [stress added](Scott Adams, 1996, The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View Of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions, page 322).


To these words, we would only change them to read that one should make sure that students and employees of California State University, Chico are learning something every day! It should be clear that not only is the entire world changing, but the specific world of higher education is also changing! The overlap between educational industries and other industries should be clear and the following words are applicable to both:

"Today, corporations essentially all have the same technology, the same networking systems, the same software, she [Shoshana Zuboff] says. The only way they can beat out their competitors is by enabling their biggest asset--their workforce--to be more innovative in using the technology to create new products and new services that sell well" [stress added]. (Karen Penna et al., 1996, "Economic Anxiety" in Business Week, March 11, pp. 50-52, page 52).

We also view a committment to teaching and adhere to the words of Sir Francis Bacon:

"I hold every man [and woman!] a debtor to his profession; from the which as men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavour themselves by way of amends to be a help and ornament thereunto." (Sir Francis Bacon [1561-1626])

Bacon also provided us with a rationale as to why it is important to have a youthful and playful approach when he wrote the following: "Men [or women] of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocity of success." We would like to believe that participating in TLP gets one well beyond a "mediocrity of success."


LEARNING/LOVING

The Canadian prophet (and perhaps mystic) Marshall Mcluhan (1911-1980) wrote of the "global village" that we have to deal with in today's world. In 1968, McLuhan (with Quentin Fiore) wrote War And Peace In The Global Village and stated: "It is well to remind ourselves that the computer made possible the satellite, which ended nature in the sense that it has been understood during the past three thousand years" (Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore, 1968, War And Peace In The Global Village, page 89). Elsewhere McLuhan also wrote:

"When we put satellites around the planet, Darwinian Nature ended. The earth became an art form subject to the same programming as media networks and their environments. The entire evolutionary process shifted, at the moment of Sputnik [in 1957], from biology to technology. Evolution became not an involuntary response of organisms to new conditions but a part of the consensus of human consciousness. Such a revolution is enormously greater and more confusing to past attitudes than anything that can confront a mere culture of civilization" [stress added] (Marshall McLuhan, 1969, Counterblast, page 142.)


Change is ever-present, from Marcus Aurelius, through the voyages of exploration and the Enlightenment, to Darwin's synthesizing work, and (finally) to (and through) the present. It is valuable to go back to the "classics" in general, to see that some interpretations are constant, for we can also read in a translation of Marcus Aurelius (A.D.121-A.D.180), the following:

"The whole of divine economy is pervaded by Providence. Even the vagaries of chance have their place in Nature's scheme; that is, in the intricate tapestry of the ordinances of Providence. Providence is the source from which all things flow; and allied with it is Necessity, and the welfare of the universe. You yourself are a part of the universe; and for any one of nature's parts, that which is assigned to it by the World-Nature or helps to keep it in being is good. Moreover, what keeps the whole world in being is Change: not merely change of the basic elements, but also change of the larger formations they compose. On these thoughts rest content, and ever hold them as principles" [stress added] (Maxwell Staniforth, 1964, Marcus Aurelius Meditations (Penguin Books), pages 45-46)


Alvin Toffler once wrote about "future shock" but we argue that there is no such thing as future shock but there is ignorance of the present, Toffler notwithstanding. The present is rapidly developing into the future as the past quickly recedes and being actively involved with TLP gets us to think (and appreciate) how the new technologies may be applied to the classroom situation(s). Returning to McLuhan we read the following:


"The speed of information movement in the global village means that every human action or event involves everybody in the village in the consequences of every event [if they wish to or if they can take part]. The new human settlement in terms of the contracted global village has to take into account the new factor of total involvement of each of us in the lives and actions of all. In the age of electricity and automation, the globe becomes a community of continuous learning, a single campus in which everybody irrespective of age, is involved in learning a living" [stress added] (Marshall Mcluhan, 1969, Counterblast, page 41).


"Learning a living" is a key phrase that we believe in, in both the Technology and Learning Program and in the sub-title of this presentation: Teaching, Learning, and Playing. The Internet is a huge and serendipity, combined with search engines such as Alta Vista or various other search engines, can lead to wondrous things! If one does not constantly learn, one stagnates and dies. More recently, Lacy has written the following:

"The human capacity to communicate has grown with explosive force in the last half-century. We are flooded with print. ... The daily flow of information is enormous, far above the capacity of any individual, indeed, of society itself to absorb as it passes. ... This revolutonary capacity to communicate, to store, and to recall information in quanitities and with speeds never before conceived has come with unparalleled suddeness. ... A major problem is simply one of magnitude [stress added]" (Dan Lacy, 1996, From Grunts To Gigabytes: Communications And Society, pages 152-153).


Neil Postman, an exceptionally astute observer of our own culture, had an interesting point in 1992 when he wrote the following:

"From millions of sources all over the globe, through every possible channel and medium--light waves, airwaves, ticker tapes, computer banks, telephone wires, television cables, satellites, printing presses--information pours in. ... Like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, we are awash in information. ... We are a culture consuming itself with information, and many of us do not even wonder how to control the process. We proceed under the assumption that information is our friend, believing that cultures [or individuals!] may suffer grievously from a lack of information, which, of course, they do. It is only now beginning to be understood that cultures [and individuals!] may also suffer grievously from information glut, information without meaning, information without control mechanisms [stress added]" (Neil Postman, 1992, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (Vintage), pages 69-70)


In his perceptive volume entitled Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse In The Age of Show Business, Postman pointed out the following:

"I bring this all up because what my book is about [or this CELT presentation is about!] is how our own tribe is undergoing a vast and trembling shift from the magic of writing to the magic of electronics [stress added] (Neil Postman, 1985, Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse In The Age of Show Business, page 13.


As individuals involved with TLP (one as Project Manager who works with, interacts, and assists hundreds of individuals every semester and one who is an Anthropology faculty member who interacts with hundreds of students every semester), we both believe that we must make the shift from merely talking about multimedia in the classroom to using multimedia in the classroom. Only by "jumping in" and playing around (with TLP) will we learn how to deal with the electronic aspects cultural change that is developing, or in the Darwinian sense, "evolving" alongside of us. It is also clear that if we, as professional educators do not change, the "privatization" of education (via the eletronic medium) might well become a reality in our lifetimes. A distinguished anthropologist, Gregory Bateson, once wrote that the "unit of survival [or adaptation we add] is organism plus environment" (Steps To An Ecology of Mind, 1972, page 483) and in this presentation we strongly argue that if we, as individuals and as an institution, are to survive we must (a) be aware of and (b) adapt to the ever-changing electronic world around us through the medium of TLP!


PROGRAM/PLAYING AND TLP

We advocate "making time" (not just "taking time") to learn about TLP in the Meriam Library and take part in the TLP @ TLP! As cited earlier, but still appropriate now, we quote Goethe (and not Dante): "Go to the place where the thing you wish to know is native; your best teacher is there." Make time "to play" and encourage people to play makes us recall the words of Montaigne (1533-1592): "It should be noted that children [or adults!] at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity.


SEMI-CONCLUSIONS

"'We used to educate farmers to be farmers, factory workers to be factory workers, teachers to be teachers, men to be men, women to be women.' The future demands 'renaissance people. You can't be productive in the information age if you don't know how to talk to a diverse population, use a computer, understand a world view instead of a parochial view, write, speak.'" [stress added] (In Byrd L. Jones and Robert W. Maloy, 1996, Schools For An Information Age: Reconstructing Foundations For Learning And Teaching, page 15).


Shoshana Zuboff, author of In The Age Of The Smart Machine, has already been cited; in that 1988 volume, Sally Helgesen points out that Zuboff examined the "processes by which information technology forces front-line people to develop a comprehensive grasp and a theoretical understanding of their work and their organizations" and to these presenters both Hegelsen and Zuboff sound like an anthropologist at work. (Incidentally, numerous anthropologists are involved in distributing information via the electronic medium: from Physical Anthropology courses, to cyberspace-type courses and national museums and local museums and general information.) Returning to Zuboff, and a very "anthropological-type" statement, we read her quoting from the officer of a branch bank:

"The new technology makes you look at the whole. Tasks become more comprehensive as a result. You need to know where to look for what you need and how to get it. You need to see patterns in relation to the whole [stress added]" (Sally Helgesen, 1995, The Web Of Inclusion, page 160)


This looking for the "pattern in relation to the whole" or getting the "big picture" is precisely what the anthropologist does when he or she tells an ethnographic story of a specific group of people. This "anthropological approach" is also cited by the aforementioned Vail in his 1996 publication entitled Learning As A Way Of Being: Strategies For Survival In A World Of Permanent White Water. Vail wrote:

"May and Roethlisberger found additonal support for systems approaches to human organizations in the anthropological writings of such researchers as A.R. Radcliffe-Brown (1957) and Bronislaw Malinowski (1944). When one does not understand a phenomenon at all, as an anthropologist coming to a new society may not, a systems approach is indispensible. Otherwise, the alien sights and sounds are a hopelessly swirling jumble. One does not know what to pay attention to nor how anything is connected to anything else. A systems approach at least helps an investigator understand that the problem is to discover the underlying connections and interdependencies." (Peter B. Vail, 1996, Learning As A Way Of Being: Strategies For Survival In A World Of Permanent White Water, page 108)


It is clear that TLP provides faculty, students, and staff with a chance to learn and play and be innovative and conduct research into the new capabilities of the new technology at their leisure (when they have time!) and at their own pace; McLuhan's "global village" (with digital connectivity) is here to stay! Innovative leisure for individuals is important, because as Peter F. Drucker wrote in his 1992 publication entitled Managing For The Future: The 1990s and Beyond:

"Research is not one effort--it is three: improvement, managed evolution, and innovation. They are complementary but quite different. Improvement aims at making the already successful better still. It is a never-ending activity....Managed evolution is the use of a new product, process, or service to spawn an even newer product, process, or service. Its motto is 'each successful new product is the stepping stone to the next one.' ... Innovation, finally, is the systematic use of opportunity of changes: in society and the economy, in demographics, and in technology [stress added]" [Peter F. Drucker, 1992, Managing For The Future: The 1990s and Beyond, pp. 282-283]


CONCLUSIONS

The objectives of this September 1996 CELT presentation have been to (a) stress the appropriate uses of new technologies, (b) the value of collaborative teamwork in the learning situation, as well as (c) the need for play (or time for experimentation); we also like (d) "the systematic use of opportunity of changes" and last year's CELT Conference, as well as this year's CELT Conference, is an excellent opportunity to begin changes.

What of the future? We must realize that books and journals and the web and cyberspace and multimedia and MBONE and CD-Roms and ... won't go away; we must learn how to play and co-exist with them all and we end this paper with the Common Sense words of Thomas Paine (1737-1809): "Time makes more converts than reason."

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[1] © For the September 20, 1996 presentation at the Second Annual CELT [Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching] Conference, September 20-21, 1996, at California State University, Chico. Urbanowicz has a Ph.D. (1972) in Anthropology and has been a member of the faculty since 1973; he is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Fernandes has a B.A. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Computer Science (1985) as well as an M.A. (1996) in Information and Communication Studies (Instructional Technology) and has been with CSU, Chico since 1988. She is the Project Manager in the Technology and Learning Program. This electronic version was placed on the WWW (http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/TLPatCELT.html) on September 18, 1996. Kathy is VERY involved in all aspects of CELT and TLP and this is Charlie's second involvement in a CELT/TLP presentation, the first being one year ago in September 1995. Fernandes may be contacted by clicking here and Urbanowicz may be contacted by e-mail by clicking here. To return to the beginning of this paper, please click here.


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